Underneath a golden crescent moon Saturday night, the thirteenth annual Diwali San Antonio competition saturated the timber, walkways, and buildings of Hemisfair with rhythmic lights, conventional music and dance, and the flavors of India.
The “competition of lights,” organized by Anuja SA additionally honors the Sister Metropolis relationship between San Antonio and Chennai, India, fashioned in 2008. Sister Cities is a program meant to develop financial, cultural, and technical exchanges between U.S. cities.
In that point, it has grown to grow to be the third-largest Diwali competition on the earth exterior of India, in keeping with organizers. Between 20,000 and 40,000 individuals attend the one-night occasion every year.
The San Antonio model of Diwali was a primary for Parthiban Manoharan and Sumitha Parthiban, who had been visiting their daughter from their residence in Chennai, India. The couple strolled the park with their 1-year-old granddaughter whereas their daughter, Beneta Parthiban, helped welcome dignitaries to the competition.
“Having this occasion is like celebrating India, and San Antonio, and Texas, goes all out to have fun India,” Manoharan stated. “We’re so blissful and proud being Indians [and] that our competition is well known right here.”
The occasion started in 2009 throughout Phil Hardberger’s time period as mayor of San Antonio after he led a delegation to Chennai to forge a relationship between the 2 cities. After experiencing Diwali there, he requested a number of members of the Indian group residing in San Antonio to arrange a competition right here.
“The concept is that the symbolic lights will chase ignorance out of the world and get replaced by intelligence,” Hardberger stated. “And I all the time thought that’s one thing we may need right here in Texas.”
1000’s attended the competition Saturday, milling about meals cubicles promoting rooster biryani and fusion Indian tacos, eyeing the positive silks and gold necklaces and complex earrings offered by retailers. Henna tattoo artists and selfie stations — one with strings of vivid orange and yellow marigolds — additionally drew within the crowds.
In entrance of a stage perched beneath the Tower of the Americas, a whole lot of individuals watched dancers carrying vibrant regional apparel carry out conventional Indian dances, their ankle bells, or gajje, beckoning festival-goers.
Following the efficiency, 13 teams of individuals (representing varied areas in that nation of 1.4 billion) and the Indian Association of San Antonio positioned the oil lamps, or diyas, within the park fountains. The floating diya symbolizes goodness and purity and a dispelling of darkness.
Final yr’s occasion was held just about because of the pandemic. The organizers of this yr’s Diwali, decided to carry the competition in particular person or under no circumstances, unfold it out throughout the park to encourage social distancing. The customary fireworks present was additionally nixed to keep away from tight gatherings of individuals.
As a result of the 2022 competition will coincide with the seventy fifth anniversary of India’s independence, the occasion shall be even higher subsequent yr, stated Vijaya Botla, who helped to emcee the occasion. However she stated she all the time appears ahead to Diwali SA.
“It’s so heartwarming as a result of … greater than half the folks that come aren’t even Indian,” Botla stated. “However they’ll expertise Indian tradition proper right here in San Antonio and I believe it’s so fantastic that we, as a metropolis, can present that.
“To me, that’s one of the best half.”