13th annual Diwali SA Festival of Lights returns to Hemisfair

The largest city-sanctioned Diwali festival in the U.S will be held at Hemisfair Park on Nov. 6

People walk past decorative lights on sale ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Diwali will be celebrated on Nov. 14. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) (Rafiq Maqbool, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

San Antonio – The 13th Annual Diwali SA Festival of Lights is making an in-person return to San Antonio this year after a virtual event in 2020.

The festival will be held at Hemisfair on Nov. 6 from 6 p.m. 10 p.m.

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Diwali, which translates to rows of lights, is a festival that traditionally lasts 5 days and serves as a way to celebrate new beginnings, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness according to Britannica.com.

“(Diwali) is a time when the bountiful crops are brought together, bringing friends, family, neighbors, communities to share and to remember and reflect on the year passed, while also celebrating the year to come in some regions that celebrated as the New Year,” Asha John said. John is an organizer for the 13th Annual Diwali SA Festival of Lights. “In other parts (of India), it may have different meanings, but they all share in the same sentiment celebrating the triumph of good over evil.”

A light display at Hemisfair starting from Alamo Street to the Tower of Americas will dance to music from the Indian Film industry, Festival officials said.

There will also be a Diya, or floating candle, release by event-goers into the fountains at Hemisfair.

Other festivities include dance performances, art displays as well as food, jewelry, handicraft and henna vendors.

Visitors will notice the integration of the marigold flower. The marigold is most commonly known to be part of the Day of the Dead celebrations however, it holds a unique and powerful meaning in the Indian culture. “Well, with marigolds being seen at all festivals, celebrations, parties all through India, you’d really think it’s a native flower of India, but it’s actually not,” John said. “It was brought over in the 16th century by the Portuguese from South, Central and South America, and the marigold is representative for us as the Sun. It symbolizes the power and strength and the light within us.”

Diwali is considered one of the biggest festivals in India and is celebrated among the Hindu faith as well as various other faiths, the website said.

“Diwali is a celebration for all. It’s not just for Indians,” John said. “It’s a celebration and a time for us to reflect on our thoughts, words and actions. (It’s a time to) go forward into the new year with spreading more kindness, love, forgiveness and really showing how we can spread our light within with the world.”

Not only is it one of the biggest festivals in India but, the San Antonio Diwali Festival of Lights has become the largest city-sanctioned Diwali event in the United States, according to city officials.

“DiwaliSA’s return to Hemisfair this year is welcome news. DiwaliSA has grown into one of the most important cultural arts festivals in San Antonio and brings together our community in a celebration of the diverse rich culture of India where we have a sister city relationship with Chennai,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

You can find more information on the Diwali San Antonio Festival of Lights here.

Map for 13th Annual Diwali SA Festival of Lights in San Antonio. (KSAT)

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About the Author

Emily Martin is the KSAT Insider Membership Producer. She earned a journalism degree from Texas State University, where she was news director at KTSW, the campus radio station. She has also interned at KXAN and KUT in Austin.

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