Diwali 2022: 10 years and counting!

A post by Charlotte Spink (Learning Coordinator) and Olivia Anderson (Graduate Intern)                                        

This year the Diwali celebrations at the Oriental Museum were extra special because 2022 marks ten years of partnership working alongside the local Hindu community.

Over that period the event has gone from being a small scale with a few Diwali lights, to being a spectacular, large scale public event with, at its peak, over 400 people attending.

First stop – music! This year were privileged to have three incredibility talented musicians perform at the event. Budhaditya Bhattacharyya (vocals), Dhanraj Persaud (tabla) and Arka Chakraborty (harmonium) performed a range of classical Indian ragas. Ragas are a kind of melodic framework in which performers can improvise and bring their own musical experience too, making every performance unique.

Musicians Budhaditya Bhattacharyya (vocals, centre), Dhanraj Persaud (tabla, left) and Arka Chakraborty (harmonium, right) performing in the museum galleries

We also were treated to a Rajasthani-style puppet performance inspired by Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art and music.

A small puppet of Saraswati meets members of the audience during the performance

But the main event as always is the Lakshmi puja – prayers to the goddess Lakshmi. I’ve seen this ceremony lots of times over the years, but it never fails to move me. Hearing the 108 names of the goddess recited and offerings made to her so always a special moment in the museum’s year.

It was also a bit of a learning curve the newest member of the Learning and Engagement Team – over to you Olivia!

Hello everybody! My name is Olivia, I am the Learning and Engagement Graduate Intern at the Oriental Museum. I have been in my post for just two months, yet I have already been lucky enough to assist in an event as exciting as Diwali 2022! As a postgraduate (MA International Cultural Heritage Management) student at Durham University, I volunteered at Diwali 2021, but this year was even more brilliant as the event got back into full swing post-covid-19.

In the weeks running up to the festival we were kept very busy with event preparations, including getting hands on with decorating the museum space (I am now very proficient with a staple gun). For me, the most memorable experience was helping to make the rangoli outside the museum entrance with a great team of Hindu ladies the night before the festival itself.

In the final week of preparations, the atmosphere was energetic as everybody across the museum and Hindu community came together to make this years’ Diwali memorable. I thoroughly hope that all the attendees enjoyed the festival as much as I did. Here’s to the next 10 years.

Olivia (right) at Diwali 2022

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