Diwali Week – Tuesday 13th & Saturday 17th November 2012
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FoSJP held its first ever celebration at the time of Diwali by holding activities for families after school on Tuesday 13th November and a larger Festival of Lightscelebration on the following Saturday.
After School Event – Tuesday 13th November 2012
The Tuesday event, attended by about 70 visitors, offered henna tattoos in the ParkLife Café, Diwali card making, and toys and games in the ParkLife Community Room. Priti Dave then told the story of Rama and Sita, the story at the heart of this Hindu festival.
Festival of Lights – Saturday 17th November 2012
St.James’ Park was beating to the sound of the Indian drums on Saturday 17th November, as almost 500 visitors came to celebrate the festival of Diwali.FoSJP teamed up with Art Asia as the ParkLife Café and its surroundings became the venue for Indian music, dancing, craft, and storytelling.
The Café’s decking was cleared of the usual seating and became a stage for performances. Abanti Chakrabarty, Ipsita Roy, and Dalia Pathak entertained the audience with beautiful classical dancing. Vinod Desai played Bollywood tunes on the Harmonium, with Iqbal Pathan playing Tabla drums and Ricky Kasba creating a strong beat on the Dhol drum. FoSJP’s own Johnny Carrington welcomed the performers and compered the afternoon of activities.
Meanwhile the ParkLife Community Room had never seen so many people, with queues out of the door for beautiful henna tattoos by artists Hetal Soni and Manisha Shukla. The room was also crammed with families enjoying craft activities in the form of lantern‑making and Diwali art.
Outside the Café, artist Clare Jefferson helped children create their own Rangoli patterns to take home.
Meanwhile Paul Salmon and his staff team from the ParkLife Café kept visitors refreshed with Indian food and drinks.
At the end of the afternoon, as dusk turned to darkness, Priti Dave told the story of Diwali, and visitors left the park with their lanterns alight. A final performance by Ricky on the Dohl drum created the atmosphere for some impromptu dancing by park visitors on the café deck.
Organiser Rebecca Kinge said:
“The Park was buzzing with people of all ages enjoying this celebration of Indian culture. Even when it was cold and dark, visitors wanted to stay for more. This was a new type of event for St.James’ Park, with Vinod Desai and Priti Dave providing invaluable support to make it happen. We are very grateful to the performers and artists for making the event so memorable and enjoyable. A huge Thank You also goes to volunteers, FoSJP’s Community Coordinator Jan Carr, and the ParkLife Café staff who all pulled together to make everything run smoothly, manage the hordes of people, and clear up when the visitors had gone home.”
Rhythm Section, a local company run by Chris Knight specialising in percussion instruments, gave visitors the opportunity to have a go with a drum kit and ran a music stall. Community PlayLink also lent out some drums and instruments that children could come and try out. Iqbal Pathan and Chris Knight both ran drumming workshops, which were popular with children and adults.