SAN DIEGO–Hundreds of people from nine regions of India clad in brilliantly colored traditional garments, marching to the sound of a conch shell trumpet and the beat of a drum will mark the beginning of this year’s third annual Diwali Festival, the Indian Festival of Lights, in Balboa Park on Sunday, October 24 from 4 until 8 p.m. Beginning at the eastern end of El Prado the procession will continue to The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) and Mingei International Museum, co-sponsors of the festival along with the San Diego Indian American Society.
With its procession, dance and cultural performance the Diwali Festival is visually stunning, and a treat for other senses as well. India’s sweet and savory regional cuisines will be available from local eateries – Bombay Coast, Royal India, Bawarchi, Sher E Punjab, Vignesh Foods and sweets from KC’s Tandoor. They will be located in the Alcazar parking lot, converted for the day into a festival venue and marketplace. The Sculpture Court Café at SDMA will also serve an Indian menu, prepared especially for Diwali. Henna artists will ornament attendees’ hands with traditional designs, and Co-Habitat and ISHA Foundation will sell Indian specialties including scented lotions, along with SDMA’s Committee for the Arts of the Indian Subcontinent. Popular Indian comic books from Bombay-based publishing company Amar Chitra Katha will be available for sale.
At sunset 56 large lamps will be lighted in the Alcazar parking lot, followed by dancing and a mythological drama produced by Hamid Daudani in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Three distinguished local women — Congresswoman Susan Davis, Mingei International Museum’s Founding President and Director Emerita Martha Longenecker and philanthropist Sally Thornton — will launch the performance with a lamp-lighting ceremony. In addition, the traditional lighting of 1,008 small lamps will take place.
Mingei International Museum and The San Diego Museum of Art will remain open to Diwali ticket holders until 7 p.m. Festival attendees will view the exhibition Temple, Palace, Mosque and participate in hands-on craft activities at SDMA. In addition the museum’s façade will be illuminated with images from its South Asian collection. Mingei International will display a large rangoli design by Indira Bhakta, and families will make their own rangoli. Selections from the Museum’s Indian collection as well as current exhibitions will be on view.
Admission for the Diwali Festival is $10 for individuals and $15 for families (maximum of six people). Advance tickets will be available at Mingei International Museum or online at www.mingei.org/diwali . Tickets will also be available at the festival at both museums.
The Diwali Festival’s Lead Event Sponsor is Amar Chitra Katha. The Lamp Lighting and Cultural Program are presented in Memory of Dr. Sadanand Singh, and Family Activity Sponsors are Deepak & Varsha Israni.
Parking for the festival is in the Inspiration Point parking lot at the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way. Tram service is available into and out of the park until 8 p.m. Mingei International Museum and The San Diego Museum of Art are located on the Plaza de Panama in the center of Balboa Park.
For information, call (619) 239-0003, ext. 113 or visit the Museum’s website at www.mingei.org.