CDM Celebrates Annual Diwali Festival of Lights


By Sindhu Ravuri

To sophomore Abhinav, Diwali brings in new year for Indians. "It's really awesome everyone is in such a happy mood. our family considers it as one of the biggest festivals of the year. we just meet at someones house and put on a lot of lights"

To Junior Charita, Diwali is festival of lights. " For my family it's just a day where we get together with family friends and have a good time and enjoy firecrackers." Diwali or Deepavali as it is called meaning "row of lamps," is an official holiday not just in India but also in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

For many Indians, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. It is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil by lighting small clay lamps to drive away the darkness. It traditionally signifies the arrival of King Rama and his wife Sita to claim thier kingdom after killing the evil king Ravana thus bringing joy and prosperity to thier people.

At Children Discovery Museum (CDM), where Diwali has taken its turn to be an annual celebration in line of Cultural Awareness Initiative Program since 2011, many children perform at the much awaited Diwali dance, music and special events that will take take place on October 19 and 20, 2019.

"This is the ninth time CDM has this event, largely because of the huge success it has received," elucidated Usha Panja, a Harker mom, who choreographed Fashion show with about 30 kids, most belonging to Harker for three years in a row. "CDM is a unique platform to conduct this fashion show since it brings incredible diversity of participants and audiences which really is something that I enjoy and look forward to," she said.

"CDM synthesizes it into a single event for the benefit of main stream Americans and highlights Diwali in a secular fashion. Most Americans and Indian Americans don't get this perspective in similar Diwali events."

CDM is a non profit organization, and by participating in such cross cultural activities, school kids are giving back to the community while promoting the message of Diwali to families for main stream Americans," MinhAn Nguyen, Cultural Liaison at CDM further elaborated. "The fashion show itself celebrates color and diversity and participants always feel good about themselves and how they project their personality. It is not often, that kids from all walks of life get an opportunity to drape themselves in colorful Diwali attire. In addition, since this is truly a community service, the time they spend for this cause can also be used as part of their community service hours."

Cecilia Clark, marketing head of CDM said that she is very excited with the success of this year's two-day celebrations which includes Rangoli & Henna in addition to many community activities such as Diya painting, Dandiya (dancing sticks) painting, stroy time, dance, music and food!

"San Jose is one of the most diverse cultures in the nation," said Clark. We have over a 100 languages spoken here. And so with that in mind how do we help families get to know a little bit about the community that they live in? The South Asian population is one that has wonderful celebrations and the feedback we get from the families from all different backgrounds that come as our member base is vey diverse. They want to know more about their community they live in and this is one way for them to do it. We (CDM) enjoy being part of that learning for the community." She further explained that Diwali is part of their community awareness services. Similarly CDM also celebrates Chinese, Vietnamese and Latino special days amongst others.

Remembering the cultural show last year which had many young students taking part, Clarkgushed with admiration. "Oh my god they were so professional and amazing.

The carriage of the performers even the little boys was really wonderful. What I liked about it is the diversity. It's just not Indian kids but children of every background were part of it. And they all came out in traditional attire and it was simply wonderful. And so not only were they a rainbow of rich fabrics but there is rainbow of children. And I think that to me signifies what I want to see in my community which is we are all connected and this is a way to share culture, a way to feel amazing and proud and beautiful."

"We're thrilled that our ninth Diwali celebration will celebrate many new additions in the museum," said CDM Executive Director Marilee Jennings. "We are very grateful for the generous, enthusiastic support of our Advisory Committee who helped make the event a resounding success, and we look forward to celebrating the festival for many years to come."

Designed to engage the entire community in activities reflective of South Asian traditions, CDM's Ninth Annual Diwali Festival of Lights will feature stage performances , storytelling, and arts activities. The Bay Area's Altu and Phaltu Pyare, hosts of the blockbuster radio show will take over the stage as Emcees for performances, which will include Vishal RAmani's students performance, excellent Bhangra dances, Dol, Hand Gesture workshop.

In addition, children learned to make Diwali diya lamps and Dandia Sticks, hear stories about Diwali, and help create colorful decorative chalk rangoli designs in the portico outside the Museum.

Children's Discovery Museum is committed to promoting the culture and diversity of our region. Diwali festivities join a host of other cultural events at the Museum such Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos, a Latino celebration; Chinese Lunar New Year; and the Children of the Dragon Vietnamese heritage festival. Through exploring the traditions of Diwali with the community, Children's Discovery Museum provides families of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn more about the rich fabric of culture and traditions in Silicon Valley.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose has been ranked by Child Magazine as one of the top 10 children's museums in the U.S. and selected by the London Observer as one of the top 5 science centers in the world. Since opening its doors in 1990, CDM has welcomed over 5 million visitors and has offered new interactive exhibits each year that respond to children's diverse educational needs. The striking 52,000 square foot purple building was designed by Mexico City-based architect Ricardo Legorreta, and is a beacon of discovery. Encompassing the broad themes of community, connections and creativity, interactive exhibits invite self-directed, open-ended explorations, while programs such as BioSITE and Discovery Youth provide facilitated, focused, and sustained learning. For more information about the Museum, visit