Festival mixes fun with food drive for shelters

NASHUA – For this year’s celebration, the most popular cultural festival in India will be combined with a food drive to benefit the Salvation Army and shelters and soup kitchens here and in Manchester.

It makes sense to include a humanitarian outreach effort in a Diwali celebration, said Manoj Chourasia, public relations chair of the India Association of New Hampshire.

“Diwali is a symbol of peace and prosperity,” Chourasia said.that the state’s “Indian community does care about everybody in New Hampshire,” he said.

Diwali will be celebrated at Nashua High School North on Saturday from 4-7:30 p.m. The celebration will include a program of folkdance and songs.

Seating for the cultural program begins at 3:30 p.m.

Afterwards a dinner of traditional Indian food will be served followed by Dandiya, a social community dance until 11 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for IANH members and $10 for nonmembers. Children younger than 5 will be admitted free. Snacks will be provided, but food for the dinner will be for sale by each vendor.

More than 600 people are expected to attend, Chourasia said.

IANH is a nonprofit organization with a couple of thousand members, the vast majority from the southern tier of the state, he said. The group, which is the largest association of Indian-Americans in the state, has been celebrating Diwali for more than 20 years, he added.

New this year is the food drive being sponsored by the IANH youth group.

Diwali is known as the festival of lights. It is celebrated in India and by people of Indian origin across the globe and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

Diwali promotes peace, love and prosperity among mankind, Chourasia said.

Besides the cultural touch that it provides to Indian-Americans, the association is deeply engaged in public services activities at the Nashua and Manchester soup kitchens as well as various food drives and Christmas gift-giving, according to Chourasia.

It has also taken a very active role in providing humanitarian aid during global catastrophes like tsunami and earthquakes, he said.

For more information on Diwali or IANH, send an e-mail to publicrelations@ianh.org or visit www.ianh.org.