Celebrating Diwali in San Antonio


Shreya Chaudhary, Co-Editor in-Chief

This Saturday, the Indian Association in San Antonio (IASA) hosted its thirteenth annual San Antonio Diwali festival. That evening, the outside of the Tower of the Americas was flooding with colorful lights, Indian dance, and the aroma of savory Indian food.

On a stage, dancers performed dozens of cultural dances to celebrate the festival of the lights. Some popular forms of dance include bharatnatyam and kathak, both of which I have learned, along with manipuri, odissi, and more. Both traditional and modern songs flooded the space as the dancers shared their different styles and stories with the audience. 

One highlight of the event was the parade. India is a diverse country with many diverse states. To celebrate this, representatives from every state dressed in traditional clothing and walked onto a larger stage holding their diyas, small, circular candles. My family, friends, and I represented West Bengal, a state home to famous poets such as Rabindranath Tagore and the elusive Bengal tiger, wearing red and white dresses with a cloth tied around our body known as saris. After walking on stage, we went to the water to put our diyas. Soon enough, the darkness was filled with the small lights shining in the water. One of the hosts for the event told me to make a wish, a tradition I was not familiar with before, so I did so as I watched my diya floating away in the water.

In Hindu culture, diyas represent lighting the way home. In one story, Sita, the wife of Rama, was kidnapped by a villain with ten heads called Ravana. Rama voyaged to rescue Sita and slay Ravana, and when the two returned triumphantly, the villagers lit small lights—diyas—to help them find their way.

As the light floated away, the aromas of Indian street food filled the air. We walked to another part of the plaza to find dozens of Indian food stalls. We ordered some of our favorites: a type of rice with spices called chicken biryani, spicy chicken called chicken 65, a sweet mango drink called mango lassi, and more. 

We left the plaza with cultural music ringing in our ears and pangs of spicy yet delicious foods in our mouths. After the over-year-long hiatus from assembling and celebrating, it was fantastic to once again come together and celebrate this festival with my Indian community.