Published: December 6, 2012
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Whether it be celebrating the return of a kidnapped princess or a king's annual visit to his kingdom after being banished to the netherworld, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
This Saturday, Dec. 8, the Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St., will host a Diwali experience, complete with food donated by the Amber Indian Restaurant in Moosic, rangoli sand art designs, stories, dance and music, from 4-6 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for children.
Although the actual Diwali celebration takes place in November, the arrival of Hurricane Sandy forced the library to schedule the event for December. According to library director Leah Ducato Rudolph, the timing of the event fits in perfectly with the arrival of the December holiday season.
"This Diwali experience places nicely into this time of year because it is known as a festival of lights," she said. "The lights place prominently in many cultures, such as the Christian, Jewish and Indian cultures."
Diwali is a traditional Hindu holiday that takes place throughout the world. The festival spreads out over five days where people purify the home, pray, exchange presents and forgive past hurts. Lights, sparklers and fireworks are traditionally used as a part of the festivities.
"If someone were to try to understand it in America, the way I've always explained Diwali is that it is a combination of Christmas, New Year's and the Fourth of July all rolled up into a five-day period," said Dipti Pancholy, one of the event organizers. "It is a celebration of good over evil, light coming out of darkness."
Part of the event will also include special story times for children as well as mehndi henna designs for $2 for children younger than age 10 and $4 for all others. Diya lights will be available for $1 each.
Pancholy explained that the diya lights hold a special significance in the festival because they lit the way home for a prince who had just saved his princess from kidnappers.
"When their kingdom heard they were coming home, that night was supposed to be a very dark night," she said. "So the people in the kingdom decided to light oil lamps and keep them lit for as many days as possible so the good could find its way home."
Leela Baikadi, who is also a committee member, explained that in her tradition, Diwali celebrates a king who was unjustly banished from his kingdom.
"In one state in Southern India, it is about a just king who was sent to the netherworld because other gods were jealous," she said. "The king asked to come back once a year and look at his kingdom and make sure everyone was okay. We tell him to come and look at his kingdom. The different stories of Diwali just show the diversity of India."
For more information, call the library at 587-3440 or visit www.lclshome.org/abington.