The colours and lights of India inundated Times Square here as hundreds of Indian-Americans gathered at the iconic city destination for an early start to Diwali festivities that brought together renowned artists from the Indian film industry.
Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapur
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation presented the 'Diwali at Times Square' extravaganza here yesterday showcasing Indian culture, heritage, diversity and cuisine.
The event was attended by India's environment minister Prakash Javadekar, Indian Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and US Representative Joseph Crowley. Indian actors Aditya Roy Kapur and Parineeti Chopra, promoting their new film, 'Daawat-e-Ishq' made a special appearance at the concert that featured performances by singer Shaan and other artists.
Javadekar is in the city to represent India at the Climate Summit to be hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23. Addressing the crowd, Javadekar said as a representative of the Narendra Modi government he is extending Diwali greetings to the New Yorkers.
Crowley said that the festival of Diwali symbolises "enlightenment over ignorance" and brings people of different race and ethnicity together. Against the backdrop of recent hate crime against Sikhs in the city, Crowley urged the crowd to keep the community in its thoughts, saying "they are under great duress recently in US and we have to do more to enlighten our American people as to what the Sikh community is really about."
While the Indian festival of Diwali is nearly a month away, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director said the event showcases the rich culture, cuisine, historical and natural heritage of Maharashtra and India to a global audience.
A section of the very popular and crowded Times Square was bustling with people dressed in traditional attire as they lined up before booths set up to showcase Indian cuisine, music and fashion.
Dancers, including several Indian-American women, entertained the crowd with their performance on traditional Indian and film music during the nearly four-hour long event. Images of the traditional diyas that are lit during Diwali were beamed onto the giant billboards that illuminate Times Square.
Mulay said this was second year that the event was held at Times Square to celebrate Diwali and expressed hope that it would grow bigger with each passing year.
Last year, actor Ranbir Kapoor, his parents Rishi and Neetu Kapoor and singer Shankar Mahadevan had enthralled the audience with their performance.