Diwali, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. Getting its name from the row of clay lamps lit to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness, Diwali is usually celebrated sometime between October and November.
This year the festival takes place from Saturday, October 22 through Wednesday, October 26. Each day of the festival has its own festive day which varies according to community regions and rituals, and Diwali, the “Day of Light,” is celebrated Monday, October 24.
this festival brings with it a ton of fun and exciting ways to honor this festival and NYC. Here are some Diwali events you’ll find around the city:
1. Enjoy an afternoon of creativity and self-exploration at Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art presents art that traverses Asia’s diverse cultures, regions, and narratives, and this year they’re hosting two days of creative events to celebrate Diwali for kids and adults alike. The program is free and allows for attendees to create their own art centered around Diwali. A Museum educator will do a brief demonstration of the project, teach art-making techniques, and let you explore ways to make the project your own. The program also includes access to the Museum’s galleries. Though its free, reservation is required. You can reserve your spot here.
Where: Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W. 17th St.
When: Sunday, October 23 and Sunday, October 30, 1p.m. and 2p.m.
2. Enjoy Indian musical dance performance, food, and more at Diwali In Manhattan!
Bhakti Center will host their fifth annual ‘Diwali – Festival of Lights’ celebration. The celebration will feature traditional Indian musical dance performance, food stalls featuring Indian street food and drinks, henna stall, face painting, and a photo booth! The significance of Diwali will be shared and guests will sing an Aarti together before the evening ends with everyone having an opportunity to offer lamps. You can register here.
Where: Bhakti Center (3e & 3w temple room), 25 First Ave.
When: Monday, October 24, 6p.m. – 9p.m.
3. Stargaze and celebrate Diwali at Waterline Park
Join The Culture Tree and Amateur Astronomers Association as they celebrate Diwali at Waterline Park. Guests will stargaze on the month’s darkest night and view celestial wonders. Visitors will be able to make a wish while diyas float down Waterline’s streams.
Where: Waterline Park, 10 Riverside Blvd.
When: Monday, October 24, 7p.m. – 8p.m.
4. Learn about Diwali’s historical, cultural, and social significance at the New York Public Library
The NYPL will celebrate Diwali with The Culture Tree. Read books that will bring the festival of Diwali to life, sing a Diwali song, and learn about the festival’s historical, cultural, and social significance. Guests can also participate in a Diwali cardmaking activity. The celebration is free and no sign-up is necessary.
Where: 18 West 53rd St.
When: Monday, October 24, 11a.m. – 12p.m.
5. Take part in an afternoon of music, traditional South Asian dance, and crafts at Prospect Park
Mixed Masala is hosting their fourth Diwali celebration, encouraging families of all backgrounds to attend a fun afternoon of music, traditional South Asian dance, and crafts to celebrate the festive season! The event will include a Bollywood dancing workshop, Diwali arts and crafts for the kids, and a special lighting of diyas at the end. Plus visitors can get Henna done and enjoy light Indian snacks. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Learn more here.
Where: Prospect Park
When: Saturday, October 22, 3p.m. – 6p.m.
6. Join in on an evening of games, dance workshops, and more
Aalokam, an NYC-based South Asian performing arts organization specializing in Bharatanatyam dance and Carnatic Vocal, is hosting “Sparkles & Steps,” a fun, family-friendly Diwali celebration! Guests will get to experience delicious food, South Asian vendors, dance workshops, craft workshops, a henna station, a reading nook with South Asian books, and much more.
Where: 84 14th Street
When: Saturday, November 5, 4p.m. – 8p.m.
7. Celebrate Diwali at a festival and dance party
Celebrate Diwali with this all-ages festival and dance party, featuring Kathak classical dancer Abha Roy and bharatanatyam dancer Ishita Mili! At this celebration you’ll learn folk, Bollywood, and Kathak dance moves infused with hip hop and contemporary dance. You’ll also explore rangoli design, taste Indian foods, discover ayurvedic treatments, and more! Two different sessions will take place and tickets must be purchased in advance. Learn more here.
Where: Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd.
When: Saturday, November 5, 11a.m. – 1p.m. & 2p.m. – 4p.m.
8. Color your own mandala at Allerton Library
Many people who celebrate Diwali create mandalas which can be interpreted as a spiritual symbol for the universe. At Allerton Library you can color in your very own mandala to take home. Register in-person in advance as space is limited. (Note: Ages 6-12)
Where: Allerton Library, 2740 Barnes Ave.
When: Monday, October 24, 4p.m. – 5p.m.