Diwali, known as the "festival of lights", is the most important and widely celebrated holiday in India. So, it's fitting that a pair of local Diwali celebrations would kick off what just might be the biggest week ever for Indian culture in Indianapolis.
The week's festivities get started Friday night at IUPUI, as the Indian Student Cultural Association present their 5th Annual Diwali Dhamaka celebration. The event will feature dance performances, Indian cuisine and a rooftop fireworks display.
On Saturday night, the India Association of Indianapolis will host their annual Diwali: Festival of Lights gala. With an expected attendance of 700 plus, this is one of the largest Indian events in Indiana. This year's schedule includes the Anil Sharma Band, Diwakar Performing Arts Group and Bloomington-born comedian Dan Nainan (who you might have seen on NBC's "Last Comic Standing" or in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender").
Also on Saturday night is a performance by singer Suffi Balbir, a rising star in the Punjabi folk music scene. Balbir specializes in a variety of traditional Punjabi sounds from bhangra to sufi music.
The week concludes on Friday, November 18th with a performance from one of the biggest stars in Indian popular music, Panjabi MC. The British-born bhangra music icon shot to international fame when his 2003 collaboration with Jay-Z "Mundian To Bach Ke" became a global hit. Panjabi MC will appear at the Old National Centre's Amber Room as part of the Cultural Cannibals' monthly Indian music party Bollywood Bhangra.
[Editor's note: Kyle Long, a regular NUVO world-music writer, is also a founding partner at Cultural Cannibals. The Panjabi MC event is part of a series he organizes.]