Indo-American Festivals, Inc. (IAF), a New Jersey-based non-profit organization, proudly marked its 25th Dusshera Festival, a celebration of cultural richness and the victory of good over evil, on Saturday, October 21, 2023. The event, held at Lake Papaianni Park in Edison, NJ, witnessed a grand turnout, with over 10,000 enthusiastic attendees.
This year’s milestone event showcased a plethora of attractions and cultural festivities. The highlights included a captivating 2.5 hour performance of the Ramleela, the traditional burning of a towering 20-foot effigy of Ravan, and a new addition that captured the hearts of all: a 15-foot fiber statue of Lord Hanuman Ji. This statue not only drew in crowds but also provided a spiritual space for attendees to offer prayers and seek blessings from Sankat Mochan Hanuman Ji.
The festival kicked off with the presence of esteemed dignitaries, including Mr Sameer Joshi, the Mayor of Edison Township, Councilman Ajay Patil, and Community Leader Hitesh Bhatt, among others.
Throughout the 8-hour celebration, the event offered a diverse range of attractions. There were over 80 stalls featuring various vendors, offering items such as clothing, jewellery, henna, face painting, educational resources, Hindi literature, books, banking services, and financial advice, which were among the many highlights.
The atmosphere was electric, with attendees delighting in the sight of the 20-foot Ravan effigy, the towering 15-foot Hanuman Ji idol, the gripping Ram Leela, and a plethora of sensational cultural performances. Food vendors tantalized taste buds with delicious offerings, while clothing and jewelry stalls also had huge crowds. Children regaled with the thrill of witnessing the burning of the Ravan effigy.
Mrs Chanchal Gupta, the Chairperson of Indo-American Festivals, Inc., expressed her gratitude to the audience for joining in the festivities. She paid tribute to the organization’s founder, Mr Mangal Gupta, who had envisioned celebrating Dusshera in the United States. Although he passed away in 2012, his legacy lives on through the dedicated volunteers and supporters who continue to organize this event every year.
Mrs Gupta emphasized the festival’s main objective: to pass on the rich culture and traditions to future generations, with a core message of the victory of good over evil. The Dusshera festival in New Jersey is a testament to the hard work of over 50 dedicated volunteers and supporters who put in year-round efforts to plan and execute this grand event. Mrs. Gupta extended her gratitude to Middlesex County for providing a part of the grant funding and to other sponsors and donors whose support made this event possible, allowing it to remain free for all attendees.
She also expressed heartfelt thanks to the Township of Edison for providing the exceptional venue at Lake Papaianni Park and the invaluable support from its staff. Without their assistance, this grand celebration would not have been possible. The Township’s contribution played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the event.
Mrs. Gupta extended her appreciation to various media outlets, including ITV Gold, TV Asia, Radio Zindagi, Desi Talk, EBC Radio, and many others. Their support was instrumental in reaching hundreds of thousands of people and promoting the event to a wider audience. Without their support, such a significant turnout would not have been achievable.
The festival commenced at 12:30 PM and concluded with the burning of the 20-foot Ravan effigy. Attendees left the event with smiles and the inspiring message of the victory of good over evil resonating in their hearts.
Mrs. Gupta concluded by thanking the dedicated volunteers who played a pivotal role in making the event a resounding success. Raj Mittal, Dinesh Mittal, Shiva Arya, Dr. Rajiv Mehta, Dharmesh Agrawal, Shalini Chhabra, including many others were the key attendees for the event.