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Diwali Festival

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The second community Diwali Festival, the Indian Festival of Lights, takes place in Balboa Park on Sunday, October 25, from 4-8pm, and will feature arts, a cultural program and colorful procession, music, dancing, Indian food, henna artists, family activities, and the traditional ceremonial lighting of lamps made in India and brought to San Diego for this special event. Over 1,000 small lamps and 50 large brass lamps, some nearly five feet high, will be lighted at sunset by distinguished women, starting with the event’s guest of honor, Ambassador Sushmita Thomas, Consul General of India, San Francisco. Indian food and beverages will be provided by local restaurants including Ashoka the Great, Bombay Exotic Cuisine of India, Royal India, and Bombay Coast, along with beverages by the House of India in Balboa Park.
 
The Diwali Festival will feature lamps used in different eras, traditions, and regions of India in a fascinating array that displays the continuing art of creative craftsmen from the past to the present, with many lamps recreated from ancient designs. The 1,008 small lamps will be lighted just as they are in Indian homes at the time of Diwali.
 
A symbol of surya (sun) and agni (fire), the lamp plays an important role in Indian daily life. Lighting lamps is an essential form of worship believed to carry one’s prayer to God, and at every stage of life lamps are lit to celebrate the eternal life force. Diwali is a significant festival for Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, and a public holiday in India. Homes are decorated with lights; fireworks are displayed and sweets and gifts are exchanged. Its date changes according to the time of the full moon, but it always falls in October or November on the Western calendar.
 
Admission for the Diwali Festival is $10 for individuals and $15 for families. Tickets are available in advance at Mingei International Museum and at the festival. The Diwali Festival is sponsored by Mingei International Museum and the San Diego Indian American Society, in association with the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA). Also supporting the event are Urban Corps of San Diego, Meeting Services Incorporated, Cohabitat and San Diego CityBeat.
 
Parking for the festival is in the Inspiration Point parking lot at the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way. Tram service is available into and out of the park until 8pm. Mingei International Museum and San Diego Museum of Art are located on the Plaza de Panama in the center of Balboa Park. (619/239-0003, ext. 113, www.mingei.org)

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