Indian Festival of Lights to shine in New Orleans


Courtesy of DJ Prashant Photo credit: Courtesy of DJ Prashant

Emma Gilheany

A traditional Indian festival, Diwali, will be coming to New Orleans on Saturday (Nov. 11) with some modern twists.

Prashant Kakad, one of the organizers for the event, has been trying to bring Indian culture to America ever since he moved here. He was born in Nasik, India, and moved to the United States in 2003 after living in Mumbai for 10 years.

In India, Diwali is a festival of lights that celebrates the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, according to Catherine Wessinger, Loyola religious studies professor. She said that people place lights throughout their houses to welcome the goddess into their homes.

Kakad explained that Diwali usually lasts five days, and it is a time for families to get together and celebrate. Each day has a different significance, such as the bond between brothers and sisters. It is a time for people to dress up in vibrant colors and pray to the goddess of prosperity.

“It is a celebration of good over evil and light over darkness,” he said, adding that celebrating Indian festivals in America made him feel more at home.

Kakad will be bringing this Indian festival to New Orleans for the first time. He lives in Portland, Oregon and travels around the country organizing these festivals. He has previously brought Diwali to Portland, Oregon and San Diego.

Though this event will differ from the traditional Indian festival, such as by not including prayers, Kakad will bring celebration and lots of dancing to New Orleans.

“People should expect to dance more than they ever thought they would,” he said.

Kakad is part of Jai Ho Dance Party, which launched in New Orleans in September. They will teach dance classes as part of the event, along with local dance teachers. On Saturday evening during the festival, there will be a dance workshop and students will be able to perform later that night at the event.

Kakad will also perform at the event as a DJ, under the stage name DJ Prashant. Because this is a festival of lights, there will also be glow sticks, LED lights and more. Prashant also encourages people to dress up in vibrant colors.

“This is a great way to share this culture,” he said.

Diwali will be held at The Howlin’ Wolf, and the doors open at 9 p.m. It is an 18+ event. Tickets can be purchased online for $10 or at the door for $15.