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Diwali Lights Up Pioneer Boulevard

 

Models show off the latest fashions during Diwali Festival in Artesia this past week. Randy Economy Photo

Models show off the latest fashions during Diwali Festival in Artesia this past week. Randy Economy Photo

By Brian Hews

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated with families partaking in activities together in their homes during a five-day celebration also known as “The Festival of Lights.”

In Artesia’s Little India Business and Entertainment District, Diwali was celebrated last past weekend with a lavish street festival that attracted an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 revelers.

One of the main sponsors of the event was the Little India Chamber of Commerce. The organization worked around the clock during the past several months to host the event in cooperation with other local groups and business establishments housed on Pioneer Boulevard.

United States Representative Linda T. Sanchez and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca were two of the top dignitaries to attend and participate in the event.  Sanchez told the crowd that Diwali has become a “personal favorite event” and has “enjoyed the festivities for years.”

“Today we celebrate new beginnings, and reflect on this past year,” Sanchez said. “I am proud of the Artesia community for coming together in making this event possible,” she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca celebrates Diwali in Artesia with newly elected Councilman Ali S. Taj and LA County Sheriff’s Advisory Committee Member Jagan Yelisetti. Randy Economy Photo

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca celebrates Diwali in Artesia with newly elected Councilman Ali S. Taj and LA County Sheriff’s Advisory Committee Member Jagan Yelisetti. Randy Economy Photo

Sheriff Baca, who began career several decades ago as a teacher at Artesia’s Faye Ross Junior High School attended the event with his wife Carol.  The two visited with several of those in attendance, poised for photos with several different families, watched a fashion show and concert that was held on a giant stage in the middle of a normal busy intersection on Pioneer Boulevard.

Also in attendance where Artesia Mayor Sally Flowers, Mayor-Pro Tem Tony Lima, Councilman Miguel Canales and newly elected city councilman Ali S. Taj.

Taj is the first Pakistani-American ever elected to public office in California, and was greeted with warm embraces from several well-wishers and supporters in attendance.

“It is an honor to be a new elected member of the Artesia City Council, and I look forward to representing the entire community during the next four years,” Taj told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper at the event.

The “Festival of Lights” began with “Dhanteras” on which most Indian businesses begin their new fiscal year.

The second day of the festival is called the “Naraka Chaturdasi.”

“Amavasya”is the third day of Diwali, which marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

The fourth day of Diwali is known as “Kartika Shudda Padyami,” and the fifth day is referred to as “Yama Dvitiya.” Per tradition, the last day sisters invite their brothers to their homes for a formal family celebration.

Several members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Explorer Program also attended the event and spent quality time getting to know members of the Artesia community who attended the street festival.

“Artesia has a special place in my heart, and I am so proud to the community for embracing diversity,” Sheriff Baca told the newspaper.

“We have a lot to celebrate, and much to look forward to in the next year.  This is a great night to reflect and to enjoy friends,” Baca said.

Mayor Flowers wore a traditional India dress and also spent most of the evening visiting with celebrants, shaking hands, and poised for photos.  “This is a great night for all of Artesia,” Flowers beamed.

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