IAL Diwali 2023; Credit: Chronicle.lu

On Saturday 18 November 2023, the Indian Association Luxembourg (IAL) held its annual Diwali festival celebrations at the Centre Culturel in Luxembourg-Merl.

Over 230 people attended this celebration of the Festival of Lights, India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. Although its history stems from being a Hindu festival, variations are also celebrated in other Indian religions. It symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance".

Very much a community affair, with most attending dressed up in traditional costumes, the celebrations commenced with a traditional Pooja ceremony, a ritual prayer that involves the lighting of a lamp with food for the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha.

The starters of the buffet dinner were then available, with colour-coding of tables used to great effect, ensuring that there was a steady flow of people at the buffet rather than a long queue of hungry people moving very slowly.

Varun Thakur, the evening’s MC (and DJ), presented the opening remarks, mentioning that the IAL was established in 1991. He noted that the IAL has four past presidents and welcomed the new, recently-elected President, Sahil Goel, who recalled that he first arrived in Luxembourg as a student. He thanked everyone for their support and he explained the format of the event, specifically the community involvement in the various dance performances, some of which would be adopting a dance-off format while showcasing different dance styles from different regions of India.

To kick off the entertainment, the LuxIn Dancers performed their first routines of the evening, Bharatanatyam and Kathak, two of the most popular classical dance forms in India. This was followed by Kavita Munnsad (IAL) performing a semi-classical dance, and a Tabla (Indian percussion instruments) performance by Sanjey Harihran. The LuxIn Dancers were back on stage with a Telgu Medley, with Sunita Trivedi (IAL) entertaining those in attendance with a number of classic dances from the 1970s. The Malayali Association Luxembourg performed a Malayalam Folk Dance and the LuxIn Dancers were back with their third performance of the evening, and the last before dinner, a Classical vs Street dance.

The performances were exquisite with the exuberant dancers wearing vibrant costumes, involving complete costume changes between each dance set, all of which complemented the decorations arranged by the organisers and displayed at the venue.

The main course of the dinner - provided by the Jay Nepal restaurant - was then served, with the same colour-coding system working very well.

After the meal, the entertainment resumed, with the Tamil Sagram Luxembourg performing a Tamil Folk Dance, the Luxembourg Bengali Association performing a Bengali Folk Dance, the Marathi Mandal Luxembourg singing, the Kannada Koota Luxembourg performing a semi-classical dance from Karnataka, and the LuxIn Dancers performing a number of routines, including Bollywood Freestyle, a Bollywood Medley and a Bhangra.

A tombola was held, with each attendee receiving a ticket at the door upon arrival, and five prizes awarded to the holders of drawn tickets.

The evening closed with the DJ playing tunes until the close, for many attendees to take to the dance floor in front of the stage.