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Joyful Diwali Celebration Held at West Orange High School

WEST ORANGE, NJ - A joyful, yet emotional, Diwali celebration was held at West Orange High School on Oct. 29, organized by United Asian Voices of West Orange, the West Orange School District, and community members.

The event was held in the Tarnoff cafeteria and featured many Indian arts and crafts vendors, and Indian food was available outside under tents. Both the West Orange High School Boys and Girls Step Teams performed, and all four World Languages: Chinese, Spanish, French, and Italian, were represented. Musical performances and traditional dances were performed for a receptive crowd. High school students emceed the event as various exhibitions were placed around the cafeteria.

The five-day celebration begins on Nov. 10 and ends on Nov. 14.The festival of Diwali is marked over five days, with two days in the build-up to the main day and then two days marking the new year.

Diwali itself is celebrated in the middle of the five-day extravaganza. The first day of the celebrations is called Dhanteras, the second is Choti Diwali, and the third,  Diwali. The day after Diwali is called Govardhan Puja and the final day is Bhai Dooj.

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or Dipavali, originates from the Sanskrit word dipavali meaning “row or series of lights.”

The “Festival of Lights,” as Diwali is also known, is considered one of the most significant events on the Indian Calendar. Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, symbolized by the lighting of lamps in homes, temples, shops, and buildings around the world as it ushers in the Indian New Year.

West Orange High School student Vanisha Janaki spoke eloquently about her Indian and American heritage and brought many to tears.

United Asian Voices organizers Fannie Chan Jarvis and Sage Gajarawala added:

“At our events, UAV has centered on students while bringing the wider WO community together to celebrate Asian cultures. This is part of our mission – to raise awareness of the diversity of the Asian community here in WO, which is a microcosm of the global world. 

In this time of such hate and violence, including against Asian Americans, to be able to come together as a diverse community of West Orange neighbors and fellow New Jerseyans - it is an INCREDIBLE GIFT TO PROUDLY & LOUDLY celebrate Diwali, Indian culture, and Asian pride with all of YOU. Thank you all so very much for coming out and sharing in this celebration of light, unity, and peace.

We hope that you continue to support United Asian Voices of West Orange in our mission to lift up, amplify, and empower Asian voices. We do this not only through these wonderful cultural celebrations, but also via advocating on educational, legislative, and civic matters.” 

See photos from the Diwali celebration at West Orange High School HERE.

See the list of participants and vendors HERE. For more information, contact:


(L-R) Principal Oscar Guerrero, Kamya Jariwala (Emcee, Asian Culture Club), Krish Patel) Emcee, Youth Advisory Board), Sage Gajawarala (UAV), Aidan (Mountaineer Mentor), Reya Deshpande (Mountaineer Mentor and social media for Diwali) , Superintendent Hayden Moore, Nyah Mckinney (Elixar Troupe), Meena Oberoi (Diwali Committee - Food Chair), Nikhil Oberoi (Liberty), Leizyl Somoza (UAV), Fannie Chan-Jarvis (UAV) 


Vanisha Janaki and Kai Jarvis emcee


WOHS Boys and Girls Step Team members


World Languages supported the event


 WOHS Principal Oscar Guerrero, Superintendent Hayden Moore, and World Languages Supervisor Felix Plata



Cynthia Cumming
Oct. 31, 2023