Diwali Festival on the High Line

Samosas with traditional sweets called jalebi and kaju katli, surrounded by candles, Indian music, and telescopes must mean it’s the annual AAA Diwali Festival. We held our 2nd annual Diwali on Nov. 2 from the AAA observing site on the High Line. The moon appeared occasionally through fast-moving clouds for the five telescopes and three monoculars, but everyone seemed to have a good time regardless.

Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. We used the theme of this traditional Indian Festival of Lights for our own mini-festival.

Thanks to member Carey Horwitz for securing our High Line location, just south of the Standard Hotel. Bhaswan Kurra, wearing a traditional sherwani, brought a sari donated by his wife as a table covering, and LED candles to decorate our area. Bringing the delicious food was Gowrishankar L., who wore traditional kurta, pajama, and Nehru jacket.

Our two boxes of glowsticks ran out in about two hours, so at least 100 people stopped by to take a look through the telescopes, learn to use monoculars, and taste the sweets. Tom Haeberle used an Indian Sky Map App on his iPad to show people Hindu names of planets, stars, and constellations.

Thanks also to the AAA members who helped with the glowsticks and brought telescopes and handhelds.