In the growing city of Frisco, where representation of diversity is an important part of the community, Frisco is embracing the many cultures represented in our community.
Diwali, or Deepavali as it is known to many South Asians, is a festival celebrated to symbolize the victory of good over evil in the Hindu religion. The purpose of the vibrant firework displays and diyas (oil lamps), is a representation of dispelling the darkness from the world and reinforcing a feeling of togetherness, luminescence and the victory of good over evil. This representation of light can be seen throughout Frisco where households have already begun to hang lights with bright colors.
On Saturday, November 14, Frisco celebrated Diwali with a lamp lighting event organized by the Frisco Inclusion Committee, led by Sunita Cheruvu and Gopal Ponangi. Lamps were lit by Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney, the Frisco police chief, fire chief and many other city officials. Frisco prides itself as being a diverse and appreciative community where every culture is respected and cherished.
As everyone huddled around the tall diya and lit the lamp together, the sense of unity was palpable by all. Frisco’s Diwali celebration was an incredible way to bring the people of Frisco together and understand why the festival is celebrated. “Almost everyone here is from somewhere else. We recognize that there are a lot of stories, cultures and backgrounds that we share,” says Mayor Jeff Cheney. Diwali is one of the most important festivals in Indian culture and the Frisco community was able to share a piece of this culture by understanding and appreciating the festival of lights.
Frisco Inclusion Committee head Sunita Cheruvu states, “Lighting the diyas in my house with my kids really brings home the meaning of Diwali.” On this day it is customary for families to come together with their aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins to bond over new clothes and sweets during the day, while collectively coming together for the ritual of the ‘Lakshmi Puja’ in the night. After the puja, families light up their diyas and start the fireworks, which in many places continues late into the night. Furthermore, many households embellish their front porches with intricate designs of color, called rangolis, where beautiful designs of flowers and circles form a pattern at the doorstep.
Diwali is for every soul that wants to celebrate the light in the universe and Frisco Police Chief David Shilson agrees. “My favorite part of Diwali is bringing diversity together in the community.” Over the years, Diwali has become a festival celebrated across many cultures, but the message stays the same: the celebration of the good things in life that will always overshadow the bad. Everyone at the lamp lighting ceremony in front of city hall recognized the ideals of unity and wholeness that Diwali represents, and a box of sweets passed around established this relationship and brought the whole city together. “We need to bring and recognize the goodness and light of our community,” states Anne McCausland, a Frisco trustee board member.
The light of our community is not the towering buildings and parks but the people that make up the community, which is what the celebration of Diwali celebrates. At the end of the day, it’s not about the literal light that flickers gently in the diyas, it’s the people who light them.
Rasmitha Edupuganti is a high school student with a passion for adventure and writing.