Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights @ Pelham Art Center

Pelham Art Center

Dec. 6, 2014, 01:30 am

155 5th Avenue


With an Indian Classical Dance Performance, Henna Tattoos,
& Hands-on Traditional Indian Art Workshops at Pelham Art Center

Free and open to all ages!

Saturday, December 6, 2014, 1:30-3:30PM

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, returns to Pelham Art Center as part of its Folk Arts Series, Saturday, December 6 from 1:30-3:30PM. Join us for this festive event with a free ancient Indian classical dance performance, traditional hands-on workshops and receive Mehndi body art from artist Manjula Kandaswamy. Also known as henna tattoos, Mehndi is a temporary form of skin decoration using henna ink, an all natural paste derived from the Henna plant. At 2:45PM, dancer Priyadarshini Roy will present the Odissi repertoire, which will begin with Mangacharan, the invocatory item, followed by Abhinaya, an expressional piece, and will end with Moksha, the dance of liberation. The dance pieces will be interspersed with demonstrations of a few simple hand gestures and footwork, which the audience can learn, making the experience interactive. The audience will also learn about the history of Odissi and the mythological stories and characters portrayed in the dance pieces. Running throughout the event will be two hands-on workshops led by Lavanya Misra. This year we will be reviving the ever popular Diya Pots workshop where participants can decorate their own small clay pot that holds a tea light candle to represent a diya, the source of light that characterizes Diwali festivals. In the Rangoli workshop, participants can create decorative designs using brightly colored rice. This traditional folk art is practiced to bring good luck and welcome Hindu deities into the home.

About Diwali

Diwali is a major festival for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, who believe that light is a metaphor for knowledge and signifies health, wealth and peace. Diwali is celebrated as the “Festival of Lights,” in which participants light diyas—cotton-like string wicks inserted in small clay pots filled with oil—to signify victory of good over the evil within an individual, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every region of India celebrates it in its own unique way. The five day Diwali festival usually occurs during October or November, with the main day of celebration varying regionally.

About Priyadarshini Roy

Priyadarshini Roy is one of today’s leading Odissi exponents. She has intensively trained in this ancient Indian classical dance style for 27 years. Based in Westchester, Priyadarshini actively performs, teaches and choreographs Odissi at numerous cultural centers all over the US as well as abroad. In the recent past, Priyadarshini has performed and held workshops/dance demonstrations at prestigious venues such as the Indian High Commission in London, Auditorium Guimet in Paris, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York, and on National Television in India.

Priyadarshini was tutored in the nuances of Odissi from a very young age by her mother, Guru Dipanwita Roy, an internationally acclaimed Odissi dancer. Priyadarshini holds the Prabhakar Degree in Odissi (with Distinction) from Prayag Sangit Samiti, India. She has also received several awards and accolades including the Siranama Award for “The Best Upcoming Dancer” and the Sangit Kala Mandir “Best Performer” award.

Priyadarshini has been teaching Odissi for over a decade. On moving to the US in 2010, Priyadarshini established “Shibaranjani” in Westchester, a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of Odissi. She also teaches Odissi at Navatman, a South-Asian performing arts organization in New York City.

About the history of Odissi dance style

Odissi is the oldest surviving dance form of India, dating back to the 2nd Century B.C. based on archaeological evidence. This visually fascinating performance style, originated in the state of Orissa, in eastern India. Traditionally, only temple dancers performed Odissi in the inner chambers of the temples for the pleasure of the gods.

Odissi has a vast range of sculptural body movements, which gives one the illusion of the temple sculptures coming to life. Odissi incorporates intricate footwork, extensive use of facial expressions, elaborate use of hand gestures, graceful and sensuous torso movements, and ornate costumes. The exquisite Sanskrit poetry and the sculptural movements to the typical Odissi music almost cast a spell on the spectators.

Odissi has been revived in the past fifty year by notable gurus, such as Kelucharan Mohapatra, who have faithfully recreated the choreography and technique to pass on the expertise to the contemporary Odissi dancers.


Pelham Art Center 155 Fifth Avenue Pelham, NY 10803 914-738-2525 [email protected]

Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10–5pm; Saturday, 10–4pm

Directions: Located 5 blocks from the Hutchinson Parkway exit 12 and 2 blocks from the Metro North Pelham stop

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