Philadelphians celebrate Diwali this weekend

Dance, art included in five-day Hindu festival celebrated at Cherry Street Pier

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — One of the biggest holidays in India is being celebrated in Philadelphia this week.

Diwali is a five-day-long festival rooted in the Hindu faith.

Tiny clay lamps fill the homes of the faithful this time of year, signifying hope, victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Diwali marks the start of the fiscal year in India and celebrates Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity.

There's gift giving, lamp lighting, and expression though art and dance.

Shaily Dadiala, artistic director of Usiloquy Dance Designs in Fishtown, said expression through a dance called Bharatanatyam is a big tradition during Diwali.

"The dance form itself is finger articulation expressive mime-like movements gestural story telling and strong athletic body movements as well"

She explained the celebration, especially locally, is about embracing the culture.

"That's what makes me proud," Dadiala explained. "As an immigrant, that's what we need to see. That what represents us when we talk about our hearts being big and all these festivals, it's just us celebrating in our small groups and families which is awesome. Festival is our collective joy."

Her group is performing Saturday afternoon on the Cherry Street Pier. She said spectators are encouraged to ask questions about what they see.

"It's interesting sometimes when audiences get completely different meanings from a dance piece that was not even intended, and that's the beauty of it."

The celebration wraps up this weekend, but is often celebrated month-long.

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