Alameda County Fairgrounds celebrates Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights


Zenil Koovejee

Over 4,000 people from all over the Bay Area attended the event, spending time with their loved ones in a true celebration of Indian culture.

On October 15, the Association of Indo-Americans hosted its annual Dussehra-Diwali Dhamaka at Alameda County Fairgrounds. The day’s events featured vendor booths, performances, and fashion shows. Not to mention the carnival rides and games, fireworks, and additional exhibitions of traditional Indian culture. 

“This event was really just superb. I found it so nice to spend time with family and celebrate our culture like we do back home,” said event attendee Taramati Vithal. 

During the celebration, attendees could purchase traditional Indian attire, gold jewelry, hand-made artifacts, household decor, cultural literature, and more. Furthermore, a variety of stalls provided individuals with a wide range of menu options, primarily featuring cultural Hindu dishes.

“We are here with authentic Lucknow suits, sarees, and kurtis. We are the Art of Lucknow – each kurti takes about forty days to be made, and are crafted by artisans in India,” said vendor booth facilitator Shefali Tutjhi. 

The widely celebrated fireworks display also featured the burning of Ravan Dahan (celebrating the Indian festival of Dussehra). The fiery effigy marked the symbolic victory of Lord Rama over demon-king Ravana as exemplified and explained in ancient Hindu mythology, more specifically, the Ramayana. 

“The burning of Ravan Dahan is a widely employed practice in India and in Indian communities around the world. The way they did it here in Pleasanton was really nice. The light from the fire and the overall feel from the crowd really made it feel so great to celebrate our culture and this enactment of the Ramayana war,” said Vithal.

In addition, the event hosted a variety of Indian cultural performances. There were Bollywood dances, Bharatanatyam and Kathak shows, traditional Tamil choruses, and Telugu entertainment, among others. 

“The performances were top-notch. It was a show of Indian parampara [tradition] and represented almost every part of India. I really appreciated how they had Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu performances,” said event attendee Prashilbhai Sukla

Religious activities, such as the Rath Yatra (commemoration of Lord Jagannatha’s annual visit to Gundicha Mata temple) and Maha Mangal Aarti (commemoration of Sathya Sai Baba), were also conducted. Together with various cultural, religious, and ancestral programs, they aimed to promote traditional Indian cultural values. 

“I am an author, I have written two books for kids. So, I am trying to promote and sell them. I have written Sri Sai Sat Charitra which are stories and miracles of Sai Baba and Sri Devi Mahatmyam for Kids which are stories of the feminine goddess. I think the event is a great mix of culture,” said best-selling author and cultural booth facilitator Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar

Diwali is the festival of lights. It celebrates the lights in people’s lives, for instance, and the light they could be for others as well. And, the Diwali-Dussehra Dhamaka hosted by Alameda County Fairgrounds not only was a fun-filled affair, but also an embodiment of the Indian spirit, heart, and soul. 

“The event was really good. It is a great opportunity for the Indian community to connect with their culture, especially for kids. I think it’s a great mix of everything – fun, shopping, food, and culture. It’s a very unique experience and I am proud to be a part of it,” said Joshi.

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  • The Diwali and Dussehra element of the day’s event were celebrated in full religious style, allowing for the inclusion of various murtis (holy statues of Hindu deities).

  • Vendor booths offered attendees with various traditional attire, ranging from banaras sarees, kurti tops, and punjabis to ghagras, kurtas, and more.

  • Tables were provided for guests to relax and enjoy the many performances that radiated through the crowd.

  • A variety of Indian-style jewelry were offered for purchase, ranging from wedding sets to everyday wear.