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Joyful Diwali Celebration Held at West Orange High School

WEST ORANGE, NJ -  A light-hearted and joyful Diwali celebration was held at West Orange High School on Sept. 25, organized by United Asian Voices of West Orange.

The expression "dancing in the rain" was a fitting description as a light rain fell for a portion of the event. It did not deter the colorful and animated Bollywood and cultural performances, including Mother/Daughter team Saayani and Sankhoori Patel, a fusion of Indian dance and step by the West Orange High School Girls Step Team, chanting, and Indian instrumental music. High School Principal Hayden Moore especially enjoyed a Bollywood Dance routine as he recognized his own Trinidadian ancestry.

High school students emceed the event as various exhibitions were placed around the field. Indian food was for sale along with incense, clothing, and jewelry.  The WOHS Language Clubs were on site to participate in the festivities as well. 

The five-day festival begins with Dhanteras on Saturday, October 22, 2022, and ends with Bhai Dooj on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. Diwali will be celebrated on the third day, which is Monday, October 24, 2022, or the fifteenth day of the month of Kartika as per the Hindu calendar.

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.

In addition to Moore, Board of Education Melinda Huerta was in attendance, along with West Orange Human Relations Commission chairperson David Jones, Township Council President Susan McCartney, and councilperson Cindy Matute Brown. Assemblyman John McKeon made an appearance to recognize the event, which was the second  Diwali celebration in town. 

The spirit of community and good will generated by Diwali filled the grounds with color and hope, and for those that attended, a little bit of light went home with them as well.

See the list of performers and performers below.

See all the photos from the Diwali celebration HERE.


Mother/Daughter dance


WOHS Principal Hayden Moore, BOE member Melinda Huerta, UAV Sage Gajawarala.


High school volunteers


WOHS Language clubs represent


WOHS Girls Step Team


Learning a Bollywood Dance

Welcome & Introduction of Diwali   WOHS Student Emcees
West Orange Board of Education Remarks   Melinda Huerta
Live Music Performance - Sitar/Tabla Players   Mustafa Bhagat - Sitar & David Freeman - Tabla
Fun Trivia with Prizes   WOHS Student Emcees
Bollywood Dance by Mother/Daughter Duo   Saayani Patel Pankhoori Patel
West Orange Girls Drill Team Fusion Dance   WOHS Girl's Drill Team
Bollywood Dance Instruction   Vanisha Janaki/Diya Oberoi
Human Relations Commission & Township of West Orange Remarks   David Jones/Susan McCartney
First Raffles Give-Away   WOHS Student Emcees
Bollywood Dance by WOHS Students   Diya Oberoi and Vanisha Janaki
Live Music Performance - Acoustic and Electric Guitar Players   Vinil Bhandari, Vandana Premkumar, Oscar Rial.
Kathak Dance   Maithili Patel
Fun Trivia with Prizes   WOHS Student Emcees
Bollywood Dance Instruction   Vanisha Janaki/Diya Oberoi
Bollywood Dance by the Dancing Queen's   Vandana Premkumar, Pankhoori Patel , Niraj Gadhvi, Shilpa Sanghvi
Live Music Performance - Sitar/Tabla Players   Mustafa Bhagat - Sitar & David Freeman - Tabla
Peaceful Pali Chant with Empty Cloud   Bhante Suddhāso and Ayya Somā
Fun Trivia with Prizes & Raffles   WOHS Student Emcees
WOHS Elixar Dance Team   Vanisha Janaki, Yuxin Li, Ainara Bouzas, Krisvel Montenegro, Mikele Parker
Bollywood Songs   Urmi Battu Music 
UAV Remarks & Thank You   Fannie Chan-Jarvis, Sage Gajarawala
Music Solo's of Bollywood Songs   Urmi Battu Music 







Cynthia Cumming
Sept. 27, 2022