Sold Out Houston Diwali Mela Brimming with Mumbai Style Celebrations

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Photos: Meedu’s Fotografy, Murali Santhana, and Nilo Armanamendez.


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By IAN Correspondent

HOUSTON: A record early turnout marked this year’s Houston Diwali Mela at the Skeeters Stadium on October 25.  The benevolent Gods cancelled all rain for the week, instead sending halka sa cooling evening breezes to nearly 10,000 patrons in a yet again sold out event sponsored by the Zee TV, Zee Family,, and Tara Energy.

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Masala Radio organizers Sunil and Sandhya Thakkar reflected, “Third time’s the charm!”  noting their team’s flawless execution of gorgeously decorated booths, gigantic 3-level stage with impeccable sound and lights, new magician act, CO2 and pyro effects that upped the standards for Indian events.

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Starting at 5PM, from outside the Main Entrance, guests were dazzled with amazing lights, DJ Rizz music, pink and orange Indian designed structures laced with nostalgic Indian cars like the Fiat, Mumbai Taxi, Rikshaw and new matching Orange Masala Radio Hummer.  Ganpati welcomed all from within a specially flown in Indian Raj Tent by Favored Events.   A Living Statue of Divine Goddess Laxmi along with beautiful chunia-choli clad Apsaras invited all in to peruse the House of Spices Grand Bazaar of 40 merchandise and corporate booths bursting with Diwali fashions, jewelry, and home decor, followed by 8 very busy chatpata street food vendors Chowpatty Chaat, Mirch Masala, Hyderabad House, Vishala Foods, Maharaja Bhog, Udipi Café, Baloch Ice Cream, and Rani Foods. Kids enjoyed a throng of giant McDonalds inflatable rides, electric Carousel, playground, and hourly magic shows by Curt Miller!

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Soon after 7 PM, Emcee Sunil Thakkar opened the stage with an electrifying welcome as City of Sugarland Mayor pro-tem Harish Jajoo lit up the traditional multi-level brass diya.  The Masala Team tightened the Tara Energized stage show to 3 hours embarking on this year’s journey through the decades of Bollywood, beginning with the 60’s as presented by the tiny darlings of Ek Do Teen Academy.  Jasmeeta’s Creations added a nostalgic twist with a bicyclist performer.  70’s was represented by Sunanda Nair Dance Academy through the era’s semi classical and folk songs like “Aaj Phir Jine Ka Tamanna Hai.”  Nitya Hari’s Dancing Stars and Bollywood Shake brought in the rocking 80s, followed by Ramji & Associates presenting the winners of the Rangoli competition their giant checks:  $501 to First Place Rachana Bhutala, $301 Second Place Viki Shah, and $201 to Third Place Amruta Sarda.

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While the stage was rocking with dance, song, and lights, a heavenly procession of Hindu Gods was stirring up the already extremely packed promenade.  20 Malayali folk drummers, Torch holders (OK LED light holders), Apsaras with flowers and fans preceded 10 young, beautiful Hindu Gods: Radha-Krishna, Sita-Ram Laxman and Hanuman, Shiva-Parvati Ganesh, and of course the glittering Laxmi.  Invoked by SKAI Foundation and adorned by the Gujarati Samaj of Houston, the Gods descended among delighted audiences to the 2 dugouts to kick off the Hindus of Greater Houston 3000-diya Maha Arti.  The Maha Arti was led by the generous major sponsors of the event: Grand Sponsors Zee TV,, Tara Energy, Diamond Concert Sponsor Maharaja Jewelers, Platinum Fireworks Sponsor Mercedes Benz, Gold Sponsors Jugal & Raj Malani, Alings Hakka, Ramji & Associates, Keemat Grocers and House of Spices.  Silver Sponors Tilak & Manju Agarwal, Brij & Sunita Agarwal, Govind & Renu Agarwal, Sanjay & Anjali Khanna, Memorial Hermann, SKAI Foundation, Sutherland Mortgage, Fiesta, One Step Diagnostic, Maharashtra Tourism, St. Lukes, Darling Homes, Sienna Plantation-Cross Creek Ranch-Riverstone-Imperial Sugarland, Perry Homes, and GSH, ICC, and HGH.

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Next was a romantic 90’s medley by UH’s Houston Jannat, followed by the heated Alings Hakka Fire Dancers.  The energy level peaked with the 2000’s finale series by Rhythm India, Infused Performing Arts, and Naach Houston.
This frenzy of excitement could only be met by the Maharaja Jewelers sponsored headliner for the evening, the king of pop bhangra, MANJ MUSIK formerly known as RDB along with Dholi Deep!  The Fire Marshall had to block a thousand guests from jumping the walls to join the dancing VIPs around the stage as Manj delivered hit after hit “Sadi Galli” “Whistle Baja” “Om Mangalam” and “Paisa Paisa”.  He then shocked the audience with an Amitabh Medley, and then pleased the hard core Punjabis with a string of his immensely popular Punjabi songs.   The stage was filled with synchronized colorful dancers by Infused Performing Arts, and alternate teams of Naach Houston.  This combined with Pyro and C02 effects provided the rock concert celebration the young audience thirsted for.

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Mercedes Benz engaged the audience in a countdown to the stadium-sized fireworks spectacular, creating an effect of thousands of Diyas lighting the Skies to mark Lord Ram’s conquest over the evil Ravan.  Guests beckoned Manj for an encore with a grand finale of “Singh is King” accompanied by the deft Naach Houston dancers.  VIPs and Sponsors enjoyed rows and rows of front and center seats as the stadium provided new specialty decking to cover the precious infield grass.

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Masala Radio remains committed to setting the standards for Indian events, and creating the same Diwali anticipation for kids and young adults that their parents and grandparents experienced decades ago in India.  Next year organizers are already planning to build a giant temple darshan area with deities from leading Hindu temples.  To participate or provide feedback, contact  Next year’s Houston Diwali will be a few weeks before Diwali so families can celebrate actual Diwali days at home.

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Masala Radio would like to thanks its dream management teams:  Office: Munira, Rinku, Shah, Akshay, Devangi & Nathan.  Event Team: Ruchir, Shivani, Ninad, Krupa, Nimi, Sameep, Amisha, Ina, Nimi, Naina, Priti and Yogina. Stage Team: Vikas, Sunny T, Preanka, Dilip, Dj Zee, Sushil, Sonali, Sunny K, Rupal, and Pari. Dancers Mehran, Ashka, Meena and Sheezan.  Special Thanks to the excellent volunteers from UH ISA.

Photos and Video coming soon to or