On November 10, people from all around Southern California converged upon Artesia to celebrate the Diwali Festival, or Festival of Lights. The most conservative estimates from the Sheriff's Department suggest that about 10,000 people attended the event, with perhaps 6,000 at one time.
Though it was an all-day event, most gathered at 8 p.m. to watch Rex D'Souza, who was one of the three finalists of the 2005 "Fame Gurukul," a popular Indian television show that has been described as a cross between "American Idol" and "Big Brother."
Jupal Singh, one of the organizers for the event, talked about their efforts to make this event a success. "We worked many months on this event - the headlining act, Rex D'Souza, alone took us two months to secure ... all in all, we are happy with the turnout. This festival is for everybody, and I see all sorts of people here. It's going to be a fun night."
Though the Festival of Lights is based on an Indian tradition, the festival was no an attraction only for those in the Indian community.
Lee Feldman, from Los Angeles, heard about the festival on television news. My son-in-law is from India, and we actually came to Artesia to prepare for the celebrations. We saw the event announced on television and news and decided to check it out. We're really enjoying it!"
Of course, the size of the event was its own draw. Briana Johnson, of Whittier, was having dinner with a friend at Surati Farsan. "We were coming by to eat here because this is a very delicious place to eat,, and we saw the festival so we're planning to check it out afterward."
The Festival of Lights is connected to the end of the harvest season in India, and it is an important holiday for Indians. Here in the U.S., it is the perfect opportunity for everyone, Indian or not, to come together and enjoy each other's company.