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HTW Diwali Mela 2017: A True Carnival of Lights!

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By Priya Subramanian

THE WOODLANDS:  Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya – these immortal words were the guiding inspiration for the vibrant Diwali celebrations of The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands (HTW) Diwali Mela 2017. The mela was held on Saturday, October 14, at the temple’s premises and had about 4,000 visitors. Many were local residents who came with their neighbors to enjoy a day filled with shopping, tasty and authentic food, cultural programs, and fireworks. Completely planned and executed by volunteers, the event showcased yet again, the shining spirit of volunteerism in The Woodlands community.

The Diwali Mela, organized by HTW each fall, celebrates the auspicious Hindu festival of lights – Diwali. The event has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. The crowds seem to get bigger each year. HTW volunteers work round-the-clock to provide something new and exciting each year. Diwali Mela 2017 introduced many novel activities, which were instant hits among the diverse crowd.

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This year’s festivities had the central theme of ‘Discover India’, to represent different facets of the Indian sub-continent. The live entertainment throughout the day had children and adults present a variety of music and dance programs from different Indian states – such as Bharatanatyam, Odissi Bollywood, Assamese dance; classical and fusion music; and yoga. Highlights in the evening segment included a live music tamasha (music show), Marathi Dhol Pasha, and Kerala’s famous Chendu presentation (percussion performance).

Also new this year was the ‘Photo Booth’ which was a crowd-puller, especially among non-Indians. HTW volunteers helped visitors don beautiful Indian outfits and accessories after which, they were able to take pictures in the photo kiosk, to capture unforgettable fun moments at the mela!

The Diya Wall (wall of lights) was perhaps the most beautiful attraction at the mela this year. Diyas, or oil lamps, have traditionally been used as a decoration and a source of light. The set-up at HTW Diwali Mela at twilight time was indeed divine, with dozens of such diyas flickering against a beautiful backdrop of silk drapes, surrounding a statue of the all-powerful Devi, or Mother Goddess. The illuminations, along with colorful hand-made paper lanterns and incandescent outdoor lights arranged all around the temple arena, contributed towards creating a mesmerizing atmosphere of the festival of lights.

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The food stalls with their delicacies and cheerful volunteers cooking and serving, while braving the 95°F temperatures the entire day, made visitors feel welcome to HTW. Dosas, channa batura, pav bhaji, vada pav, chaat, desserts, coffee, masala tea, mango lassi, and more, had long lines of people, especially in the evening hours. Kitchen prep work had begun almost a week prior, with dedicated volunteers contributing many hours of effort towards procuring groceries and chopping vegetables.

Over 40 vendors participated in the event offering a variety of clothing, jewelry, artifacts, home goods, beauty, insurance, and realty services. Several HTW clubs such as language classes, youth services, yoga classes, and seniors’ club exhibited information on their activities and services. Enthusiastic youth club volunteers took charge of entertainment for children, offering many activities such as face painting, games, toys’ stalls and a bouncy house. A special firework display at night was the grand finale of the event. Children and adults alike enjoyed these, as well as sparklers, earlier in the evening.

The event would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the HTW logistics team that had carefully planned a safe entry and exit for all guests, as also stall fixings and banners. Ample parking had been arranged at a nearby medical center from where volunteers ran shuttles to transport guests to and from the venue.

HTW’s Diwali Mela 2017 was a resounding success. With its many attractions for all age-groups and friendly, enthusiastic volunteers, many in the Greater Houston area are already looking forward to next year’s Mela!

The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands is located at 7601 S Forestgate Drive, just off Woodlands Parkway, in The Woodlands (Spring), TX  77382. Established in 2005 and inaugurated in 2011, it serves the religious, cultural, educational, and social needs of the surrounding Hindu community. It also provides services, such as six free yoga classes per week including for non-Hindu neighbors and donations of food, clothing, and other items to the less fortunate through local non-profit agencies.

More information is on the temple’s website, www.woodlandshindutemple.org.

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One Response to HTW Diwali Mela 2017: A True Carnival of Lights!

  1. Som November 4, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Fantastic work guys. And very well written Priya.

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