The Indian American Council of Long Island (IACLI), in conjunction with Suffolk County, hosted a Diwali celebration on October 28.
In the lobby of the H. Lee Dennison Building, hundreds gathered, with an overflow room available for children, to celebrate the Hindu holiday often referred to as “the festival of lights.” It has earned this reputation both for what it represents and what it celebrates.
“Diwali is our most important festival of the year,” said a representative of the IACLI team, “a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness; knowledge over ignorance; and good over evil. Diwali is also the beginning of the new year.”
Assistant Deputy County Executive Olga El Sehamy took time to remark on the work her office does in collaboration with Indian communities, and communities in general, throughout the county.
“We do this because we are a diverse county,” said El Sehamy. “We are a county where we can all be celebrated and valued.” Suffolk County is home to no less than six Hindu temples or cultural centers with thousands of congregants calling them home.
“This is your seat of government here,” said County Executive Steve Bellone of the location. “And I am so happy to be celebrating this with all of you tonight.”
Also in attendance were Minority Leader Jason Richberg, Legislator Leslie Kennedy, and Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr.
Bellone continued to say, “we celebrate this festival of light– and to me this community, what it represents to us here in Suffolk County and Long Island, it represents goodness.”
After thanking the event organizers and sponsors, Bellone noted the special nature between Suffolk County and India. “We recently visited India– we sent a delegation from Suffolk County government.”
“We thought that was so important for Suffolk County government to travel to India – government leaders, business leaders – because we recognize the importance of this community in Suffolk County.”
Bellone stated his belief that the ever-deepening relationship between the United States and India will shape the 21st century. The event featured singers, dancers, speeches, artwork and complimentary snacks and beverages.
“It is a joyous celebration, full of tradition and celebrated with family and friends,” said Legislator Kennedy. “Tonight’s celebration was a wonderful mix of dance, music, thoughts on the holiday and friendship.”
Richberg noted Diwali is also a story “of reconciliation and forgiveness, something we can all learn from.”