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Diwali celebration held at Children's Museum

Saturday was the first time the Minnesota Children's Museum of Rochester celebrated Diwali. In December, the museum will host five more holiday programs from cultures across the globe.

Diwali celebration
Sahasra Kakarla and other girls perform during the Diwali celebration at the Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester Saturday.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester came alive Saturday as dancers clad in vibrant warm tones ushered in Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights.

"It’s a joy to share our culture and also our celebration with the newer generations here in Rochester," said Ganga Gopalkrishnan, a member of the Rochester Vidhyalaya, a nonprofit organization promoting arts, music, culture and education of India in the greater Rochester area.

Diwali is a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

To mark the festival, homes are cleaned, lamps are lit and decorations are made for the front of houses, according to Gopalkrishnan.

The holiday celebrates the day Hindu lord Rama returned home after he killed demon king Ravana. It also celebrates the Hindu goddess of wealth Lakshmi.


On Saturday, a group of girls performed a dance called "Mallari" which Gopalkrishnan said depicts the procession of the God around town. The performance was the first time the museum has celebrated Diwali.

Gopalkrishnan’s son, 14-year-old Akhil Kollengode performed the song "Azhage Azhage" in Tamil. Citing a line from the song, Kollengode said it was about noticing the beauty of nature like in the rain or in a peacock.

Kollengode said he enjoys the preparations that goes into celebrating the holiday including the colorful sand paintings – rangoli.

For Gopalkrishnan, who comes from Eastern India, celebrating Diwali is a four-day festival. The first day is spent at home, the second with community, the third with relatives and the final day is to say thanks for all the good things in one’s life, she explained.

In addition to the performances, visitors were able to create lanterns, or kandeel, which are traditionally hung in front of houses during the festival.

One of the day’s performers, Aditi Vijay, said performing was "pretty hard" but she felt happy "because everyone was smiling."

After watching her friend Aditi perform, 6-year-old Sophie Schambureck said it was "great."

"She danced really well," Sophie said.


Kaiya Patel, 6, said she celebrates Diwali with her family by praying to all the gods but her favorite part of the festival of lights is the desserts. Many of the young performers agreed with Kaiya.

Six-year-old Seeta Shah said her family celebrates by making sweets, decorating and singing but like Kaiya, said her favorite part was the sweets. After the performance, Seeta said she was happy because there "was a lot of people."For Raina Kolla, 5, sharing her culture with her friends is "fun and important," she said.

Keisha Diephuis and her 3-year-old son Gryffyn Akpobome were at the Children’s Museum Saturday morning to check out the sea turtle exhibit but decided to watch the performance and make a lantern.

Dave Hughes brought his daughter Alyx, 3, and son Jayden, 12, to the museum for the event. Although they were unable to see the performance, Hughes said it was important to him to give them opportunities to learn about different cultures. Both Alyx and Jayden both made a lantern.

In December, the museum will host five more holiday programs from cultures across the community and globe.

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