So this weekend, I went to a Diwali Celebration in Edison NJ with my wife and kids. My niece was dancing and I wanted to support her as she’s an amazing dancer.
The event was held at the Holiday Inn and of course it was “Free admission”. That is when my flares should have gone off. So we go to this event and it’s held in a cnference room that can accomodate about 200 people. Do you want to guess how many people showed up? At least 500. So you can imagine the crowd. Food, clothing, insurance, “call India Today” vendors and a of course the stage..
What I don’t understand is this: With all the publicity, didn’t the organizers realize that having this kind of “free” event would generate huge crowds, as Diwali is THE festival that the south Asian community celebrates. I’m surprised that no-one fainted or the beloved Edison Police department didn’t come and close the place down due to the fire hazard..
As usual, I spent my time observing. Something I do very very well.
Overall, the event was poorly designed. From the stage layout to having 10 to 15 Vendors sprawled around the perimeter of the conference room hawking their merchandise (Multiple food stalls, music and video (best bargain), clothing, insurance, satellite TV, Non-Resident home purchases in India, Raffles). The stage for the performances was tiny. Surprised that no child either fell off the stage or hurt themselves.
Oh, I forgot the heat. It seems that when you have over 300 to 400 people in a room of this size (with a capacity of 200) , you will need decent Air conditioning.
What I did admire is the tenacity and the dedication of the kids that danced their hearts out for the audience, REGARDLESS of where they were. I know that the organizers meant well, but besides generating revenue from the vendor sales, didn’t they think about the celebration and the comfort of the attendees? It’s absolutely unacceptable to hold this kind of celebration without planning.
So we were there for a few hours and finally escaped after my niece performed (awesome!). Yet this whole experience left me with one lasting impression. Diwali is a festival of lights, and to celebrate it in with the right venue (accomodations/surroundings) is a must. With better planning this could have been an inclusive event not just for South Asians, it could have included EVERYONE in the community (not just a local politician looking for the vote).
There I feel much better now. Happy Diwali to all!