Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know Festival Of Lights Dances, music, vegan cuisine, free gifts and fireworks marked the 32nd South Street Seaport Deepavali festival By StaffWriter here was something for everyone of the estimated 50,000 people who came to enjoy this year's South Street Seaport Deepavali Festival Sunday, Oct. 6, from noon to 8 pm. This was the 32nd Deepavali festival organized by the Association of Indians in America (AIA), NewYork chapter, one of the oldest Indian-American organizations in this country. Classical fusion performances, a fash- ion show, a vegan expo, and fun-filled children’s activities were only some of the attractions. There were booths with a vari- ety of fine cuisine, sales of handicrafts and gift items, as well as an exhibition of the works of contemporary Indian artists. The Deepavali festival at South Street is known for attracting elected officials and representatives of various government and non-government agencies. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, as well as NewYork State Assemblyman DavidWeprin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were among the public officials who came and spoke at the festival. Maloney dwelt on the history of AIA, as well as Diwali celebrations at the White House since 2003, and her involve- ment in making the Diwali stamp a reality. She also spoke about the 150th anniver- sary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. Harish Thakkar, president of AIA, told Desi Talk that Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was slated to attend, cancelled but sent a representative to present his message and a proclamation recognizing the event. This flagship event of AIA-NY attracts tens of thousands of NewYorkers every year and according to organizers visitors numbered around 50,000, a press release from AIA indicated. They also say the event is considered by far the largest attraction for Indian Americans from around the tri-state area, there to enjoy the music and dance programs along with the other entertainment. It is a way to showcase Indian ideals and cultural values and tradi- tions. "We will do our part to edu- cate our children and impress the need to keep our culture and traditions." Harish Thakkar, president of AIA is quoted saying in the press release. Speaking at the event, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh said he had been coming to AIA's Deepavali event every year since 1992. "Thank you President (Thakkar) for your hard work, the great work. You can always come to our Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV for any help. This (event) is a great (way) to empower our second and third generation, connect to our culture and our reli- gion." One of the highlights of the day was the "Nache Inferno" dance competition where seven teams from colleges around the country, including Boston and Maryland, apart from the tri-state area, participated. The Vegan Expo hosted byWorld Vegan Vision saw interested crowds there to sample some of the foods and the cooking demonstration. Two doctors spoke about the benefits of going vegan; a vegan standup comic, and a vegan music band played for those who came. World Vegan Vision president H.K. Shah also gave out three free iPads to lucky winners of the raffle draw. Dallas -born Urban Desi star Amar Sandhu came from the United Kingdom to perform to an excited crowd. Since 1987, when the festive event was started by AIA, the South Street Deepavali event has become a NewYork tradition, much anticipated every year by not just Indians and Indian-Americans in the tri- state area, but also other eth- nicities interested in the color and pageantry of the culture. The AIA was founded on Aug. 20, 1967. The NewYork Chapter was established in 1968 and is well known for its social, cultural and education- al activities. "AIA represents the hopes and aspirations of those immigrants who are united by their common Indian heritage and American commitment," organizers say. The evening celebrations culminated in a 22-minute fireworks display on the water, sponsored by CheapOair and Qatar Airways. Other sponsors included McDonald’s, New York Life, ICICI Bank, Sony Entertainment Air India, and several media partners including ParikhWorldwide Media. T Photos courtesyAIA The 32nd annual South Street Deepavali festival held at the tip of Manhattan from 12 noon to 8 pm, concluded with a 22-minute fireworks display on the waters. Urban Desi singer Amar Sandhu, came from the United Kingdom to perform at the 32nd annual South Street Deepavali festival held Oct. 6, in Manhattan, organized by the Association of Indians in America. Dance groups which participated in the "Nache Inferno" competition held during the 32nd annual South Street Deepavali festival held Oct. 6, in Manhattan, organized by the Association of Indians in America (AIA). Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, poses with a picture of Mahatma Gandhi, during her speech at the 32nd annual South Street Deepavali festival held Oct. 6, in Manhattan, organized by the Association of Indians in America. Members of AIA look on. 4 October 11, 2019 COVER STORY