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Diwali-Eid Dinner: An Interfaith Celebration

Geetha Patil

An impressive and sociable Diwali and Eid Dinner was arranged by the South Asian Center on Saturday October 29, 2016 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Cambridge, MA. Hundreds of people from different communities of South Asia and the city of Cambridge gathered to celebrate Eid and Diwali which are two of the most important South Asian religious festivals. It provided a vibrant cultural learning experience to the participants of the event.

Ms. Rupal Shah the moderator of the event welcomed warmly all the participants and invited the president of the South Asian Center of the Greater Boston area, Mr. Rajesh Kasturirangan to talk about the history and role of the center that it plays in these countries and here in the United States. Mr. Rajesh said that this center is celebrating Eid and Diwali together with exotic dinner since 20 years without any break. We want to involve people who came to the event to learn more about the festivals, cultures, music and art of South Asian region and become aware and thoughtful of the socio-economic and environmental problems prevailing in this region and contribute in their own capacity to make this region better than just a taste of the rich cuisine. Mr. Aarif and Ms. Kshama Anantapura shared the story of Diwali and Eid right before the eating started. Diwali holds different significances in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, but in the explanation she said that Diwali celebrates the return and coronation of Rama, the avatar of Vishnu. The lighting of candles or lanterns depicts the victorious Rama coming back to home after having rescued his wife Sita and defeated the demon Ravana. Mr. Aarif  said that Eid al-Adha, otherwise known as the Feast of Sacrifice, marks the celebration of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in accordance with a command of Allah; Allah intervened then intervened and required the sacrifice of an animal instead. People celebrate with feasts and acts of goodwill.

All guests were welcomed by Prof. Jaspal Singh and Smt. Hardeep Mann in a traditional way of hugging and saying “Happy Diwali or Eid Mubarak”. Most participants were dressed in traditional South Asian clothes like Sarees, Kurtas and suits. The night started a melodious singing of Diwali song by young children and poetry reading by Smt. Neena Wahi. This performance was followed by a traditional dinner that was prepared by the members. The festival food was appreciated by the majority of people, it was full of flavor, color and variety.

“I think, I really just love seeing people of different community sitting together at the tables enjoying, happy and sharing the culture, food, space, and experience together” one of the participants said.


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