Diwali at North Point Mall
Bright marigold garlands and traditionally clad young girls with aarti thalis welcoming guests, spirited flash mobs gyrating to peppy Bollywood beats, flamboyant cultural photo-ops with matching props, kathputli (puppet) show, yoga sessions, an exhibition featuring artwork by artists of Indian origin, an authentic Golu (festive display of dolls and figurines) setting, kids painting diyas, a podium brimming with back-to-back Indian music and dance performances. An all-familiar sight around Diwali at a mall in India, right? No, this cultural immersion happened right here in Metro Atlanta!
[Left] IACA officials with Consul General Ramesh Babu Lakshmanan.
India American Cultural Association (IACA), in collaboration with the North Point Mall, showcased Diwali with a grand celebration on November 11th, 2023, at the North Point Mall in Alpharetta. “We are very happy and proud to welcome the IACA and Indian community into North Point Mall, our home—for them to teach us about Indian culture and customs and celebrations,” Nick Nicolosi, General Manager, North Point Mall, said. Meghan Meeks, the Marketing Director for the Mall who worked closely with IACA to make the event possible, echoed similar sentiments.
Over 5000 guests attended the Diwali festivities at North Point Mall.
Festivities set the mall abuzz with a variety of performances, pageantry, fanfare, and bazaar, culminating with fun-filled sparklers for kids. A delectable spread of Indian food and sweet boxes awaited guests with food trucks in the parking lot and vendors inside the mall. With close to five thousand attendees throughout the day and about 50 vendors, the Diwali commemoration was a spectacular success echoing the spirit of the festival of lights across the seven seas.
Consul General of India in Atlanta, Ramesh Babu Lakshmanan, and Mayor of Alpharetta, Jim Gilvin, presided as chief guests for the celebrations. Other guests of honor included Mayor of Johns Creek, John Bradberry; Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Bridget Thorne; State Senators Shawn Still and Nabilah Islam; and Johns Creek City Council members Bob Erramilli and Dilip Tunki.
Scenes from Diwali at North Point Mall.
Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of assimilating, embracing cultures, and Hinduism’s emphasis on the universality of the spirit. Citing the shloka “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah,” which prays that everybody be happy and healthy, witness auspicious happenings, and not face misery or distress, he said it emphasizes the unity of minds to create healthy and powerful organizations for the prosperity and happiness of all.
The decor, coordinated by Synthia Padala, evoked festive and Diwali vibes, while also showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of India: glowing diyas, colorful marigolds, rangolis made with flowers, handcrafted recreations of South Indian temple pillars, golus of many deities, hand-painted illustrations from the Ramayana, and a backdrop of the Konark Chakra, a symbol of Odisha’s rich heritage. An aarti welcoming Goddess Lakshmi created an auspicious environment.
Highlighting India’s diverse cultures, the spectacular performances included dances and music of south, north, east and the west with local performers ranging from ages six to sixty-five. The festive extravaganza also featured themed fashion shows emphasizing the various regions of India.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the mall, a simultaneous presentation of flash mobs and more performances pulled mall visitors into the world of Diwali. “It’s never easy to put together a cultural program involving 50+ performances. The cultural team spent an enormous amount of time preparing and it showed. Everything ran on schedule like a well-oiled machine! Very proud of the cultural team!” Dr. Raktim Sen, Cultural Director expressed.
“IACA made history by organizing a grand Diwali celebration in North Point Mall in North Atlanta. This was a great example of corporate-public partnership with over 5000 guests enjoying the spirit of Diwali,” Kaushal Tripathi, President, IACA said.
Throughout the day, various yoga sessions including meditation and healing practices were hosted by MCKS Pranic Healing, Sahaja Yoga, Yoga with Kajal, Art of Living, Aum Wellness Studio, Isha Foundation, and Sky Yoga. “The primary objective behind organizing these sessions was to offer participants an opportunity to experience a few moments of quiet amid the vibrant Diwali festivities,” Gita Vemparala, Yoga coordinator, said.
Artworks of artists Ekta Jain, Akshata Chakkarwar, Rina Scenes from Diwali at North Point Mall. Datta Chakravorty, Sarika Jaswani, Sadhna Windlass, Paromita DasGupta Ghosh, Ruma Das, Shachi Srivastava, Anu Shibu, Sujatha Maturu, Chaitali Sawdekar Joshi, Rashmita Tiwari, Aditi Chakrabarty, Veena Pothula, Shivanshi Sahay, Jaya Saxena, Shilpi Chaudhary Mcreynolds, Anjali Bhatia, Vinod Sharma, Mohan Lal Sharma, Dinesh Sharma, and Nabanita Das bedecked the Scene Art Gallery located in the mall.
One of the many attractions for kids included Diya Decoration sponsored by Think Tales Academy. Another charming entertainment was the Kathputli show by Swati Zingade. The traditional Golu set up by Ananthaadi Rayara Matha drew attention from kids, grownups, and visiting parents from India.
This event was the brainchild of Chand Akkineni, board member of IACA. Ani Agnihotri, the Chairman of the Board of IACA said, “Hopefully, this is going to be a memorable beginning for thousands of attendees who got a glimpse of Indian culture and art. It will be IACA’s endeavor to grow this initiative in the coming years with community support.”
The night ended delightfully with kids playing with sparklers with their families.
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