Indian group to celebrate Diwali

The organization has raised $5,500 for families of
military personnel wounded or killed in Iraq and



BOARDMAN — Members of the India Association of Greater Youngstown have a lot to celebrate.

Friday, the organization is hosting its annual gathering to commemorate Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights. The occasion will also mark the association’s 30-year anniversary.

From 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center in Boardman, the group will observe the holiday with dancing, food and fellowship. The association also will present a $1,500 check to The Family Support Office of the Air Force.

Members were able to raise about $5,500 to benefit families of wounded and fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan during the association’s Holi Mela festival in the spring. Over the next year, the remaining funds will be distributed to members of those families in the form of scholarships, said member Lalita Prabhuok.

Though Diwali is rooted in Hindu, the holiday is also celebrated among other religious groups in India and South Asia. It symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, said Sangeetha Sethiok, who will be installed as the new president of the association Friday.

Observers mark the holiday by lighting lamps, as the followers of the Hindu deity Rama did when he returned from exile, according to religious doctrine.

The holiday is celebrated over a number of days, but customs vary by region and religious sect, said Sethi. Observers celebrate the holiday with sweets, gifts and fireworks.

“It’s kind of like the 4th of July, Christmas, everything, wrapped up into one,” said Sethi, 37, of Canfield. “It’s a time for family and community to get together and say, ‘We are here for each other,’ and wish everyone prosperity.”

The Diwali celebration will be the organization’s 30th, Sethi said.

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