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San Antonio Will Celebrate Diwali Virtually This Year

Diwali dancers
Murali Subramaniam
Diwali festival dancers

The annual Diwali SAis taking place this Saturday.

The origins of Diwali differ across the 29 states of India, but here in San Antonio, festival spokesperson Kausi Subramanian described its backstory in general terms.

“It's the celebration of the victory of good over evil. The emergence of light over darkness,” she said. “So really, it's something that anyone and everyone can relate to.”

Kausi Subramaniam at left
Murali Subramaniam
Kausi Subramaniam at left

For the past 11 years Diwali has filled Hemisfair Park with tens of thousands of festival-goers taking in the food, music and culture of all 29 of those states, but with COVID-19, this year that simply wasn’t possible.

We're basically having an online all-day festival. It's starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, starting with yoga. And then it moves on to a healthy Indian cooking segment,” said Subramanian.

Next up is their popular and quite physical Bollywood Zumba class. At 11:30 a.m., one of the festival’s most anticipated in-person attractions — getting temporary henna — has morphed into an instructional video on the creation of the dye.

“People come to the Diwali SA looking forward to getting their henna done, and so we're going to show people how they can do their own,” she said.

Diwali continues all afternoon with Indian clothing sales, a how-to on sari wrapping, jewelry sales and more.

In the evening their Happy Hour will reveal how to make Indian-inspired cocktails. Then online viewers can enjoy a talk with popular San Antonio actor Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Diya ceremony
Murali Subramaniam
Diya ceremony

“He is also currently acting in the CW series "The Flash". So, that's going to be kind of done like a fireside chat type of style,” Subramanian said.

To wrap up, festival organizers created a video with Diwali events from years past, and with online streaming, viewers worldwide can tune in to see Diwali as San Antonio does it, for the very first time. Despite the inability to do Diwali in person, this aspect is a small improvement.

“There’s something good that comes out of everything,” she said.

The evening ends with a traditional candle-flickering diya ceremony, thus light overtakes darkness yet again.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii