The celebration almost always would start with a bang — literally.

Amol Shende would wake with family by about 4 a.m. before dawn in Thane, India. Soon afterward, the darkened sky would be punctuated with the exclamation points of fireworks bursting in full glee.

How can he forget the memories of the Diwali commemorations of his youth? Technically, the festival among Hindus honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Yet, on a broader scale, the time encompasses a more general theme.

“It’s almost like Christmas here,” Columbus resident Shende said of the joy and celebration of light over darkness and good over evil.

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He also recalls the sweet treats of the grand event.

Shende and his Indian friends in Bartholomew County want to share the cultural segment of what is a five-day festival in his homeland with local residents. With that goal in mind, the Columbus Ganesh Utsav Mandal that organizes the annual Ganesh Festival will present a first-time, single-day Diwali gathering called Deepotsav 2017, Hindi for “festival of lanterns,” on Oct. 15 at The Commons in downtown Columbus.

India native Sakshi Jain, coordinating publicity for the event, pointed out that several faiths embrace Diwali, and even those with no particular spiritual allegiance.

“The elements of celebration, however, remain the same, be it cleaning and decorating houses to herald prosperity, creating and enjoying special food, meeting and greeting friends and family with presents and illuminating the houses with electric/earthen lamps,” Jain said. “For us (locally), we wanted to focus more on the celebration aspect which aligns better with our overall vision.”

She added that that translates to “giving everyone a platform to don festive attire, enjoy special Diwali snacks,” see an art exhibition and enjoy workshops for children and adults alike encouraging all to embrace the do-it-yourself decoration aspect of the celebration.

This will include paper lanterns and origami cards.

“As we possibly expand (in the future), maybe we can get a lot of people into decorating their houses and that kind of thing,” Shende said.

The event, slated to begin at 7:30 a.m. just before morning light, also will include a two-hour cultural program that will include Shende and others providing music. Shende will play the tabla, a percussion instrument.

People such as India native Mousumi Mukhopadhyay and a group of peers will perform Indian folk and classic dances. But she sees the day as especially significant in a multicultural community and nation that has pushed against division.

“Diwali is especially a time when everybody can come together and be unified,” Mukhopadhyay said. “No matter the storyline (of different faiths), the meaning of the message essentially remains the same.”

If you go

What: Deepotsav 2017 Diwali celebration.

When: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 15.

Where: At The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus.

Tickets: $12 and $15. Children 10 and younger admitted free.



7:30 a.m. – Tea and coffee.

8:30 to 10:30 a.m. — A multilingual musical morning of performances.

10:30 a.m. — Art exhibition open to all artists in the area. Also, vegetarian snacks and light lunch.

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Workshops of craft activities such as lantern and candleholder creation.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.