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Guest column: Festival of lights, non-profit group Hum Sub seek to share India culture in Triangle

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Editor’s note: Steve S. Rao is a Council Member At Large and Former Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Morrisville and an Opinion Writer for WRAL Tech Wire.  He served on the Board of the New American Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and on the NC League of Municipalities Race and Equity Task Force. He is a regular contributing writer to WRAL TechWire.

Note to readers: WRAL TechWire would like to hear from you about views expressed by our contributors. Please send email to: info@wraltechwire.com.

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MORRISVILLE – Coming Together is a Beginning.

Staying Together is Progress.

Working Together is Success.

No words can better reflect the journey of Hum Sub, whose feature event, Cary Diwali, (Now Hum Sub Diwali) is one of the largest Indian Diwali Celebrations in the Southeast.   Hum Sub is a non-profit organization dedicated to share the social and cultural traditions of India with residents of the North Carolina Triangle area and beyond.

Why is Diwali called the festival of lights?

The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.

Hum Sub Diwali will be held this Saturday at the Koka Booth Ampitheater from 10 am until 9 pm and expected attendance could get as high as over 10,000 attendees.   In 2019, attendance was at 14,000.

Steve Rao

What is Diwali?  

During this month, if you walk through a Morrisville or Cary neighborhood, you will see many houses decorated, with bright lights, and many families and friends, gathering together for savory Indian means, and delightful deserts, and of course the firework celebrations.   For the thousands of Indian Americans who live in the Triangle, October is the month when they can bring the time honored traditions of Diwali from their motherland to the Carolinas. It is also Hindu Heritage Month, and a time to recognize the remarkable contributions of Hindu Americans to the Triangle and North Carolina.

Under Vijay Jagannath’s leadership, Cary Diwali rebranded to Hum Sub Diwali (HD) this year – Hum Sub’s tagline “Bringing communities together.  Vijay changed Hum Sub’s mission Focus broadened beyond spreading the rich cultural heritage of India to also include youth leadership initiatives, diversity and inclusivity.

Diwali  is the  festival of lights and is one of the major festivals celebrated by HindusJainsSikhs. The festival usually lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November).  One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

The Hum Sub Journey began in 2001 by like-minded Asian-Indian professionals came together to bring communities together to celebrate Indian culture.   Cary Diwali started at the Herb Young Community Center and then moved to the Koka Booth Ampitheater around 2003, and has grown into one of the largest South Asian Festivals in the Southeast.

Cary Diwali rebranded to Hum Sub Diwali (HD) this year – Hum Sub’s tagline “Bringing communities together.  Hum Sub’s mission Focus broadened beyond spreading the rich cultural heritage of India to also include youth leadership initiatives, diversity and inclusivity.   In terms of diversity, today, there are two Caucasians on the Board, and a diverse array of performers, with the Mayors of Cary, Apex, and Morrisville and other council and staff members  participating in a celebrity  dance performance.   Senior Dancers are also included in the program.

Finally, Hum Sub has led efforts to inspire the next generation of leadership with the Hum Sub Youth Achievement Awards.  This year,  56 applications were  received – highest ever and usually 4 awards are given (2 high school and 2 middle school) and the newly formed Youth Ambassador awards will provide two high school students a two year internship.

We look forward to another wonderful experience and day at Hum Sub  Diwali tomorrow.   Come Hungry as there will be a number of food stalls, and you can also learn about the different regions of India through different exhibitions.  Governor Roy Cooper will be addressing the community with a video message and elected officials from Apex, Cary and Morrisville will be in attendance along with Congressional leaders to join Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht to welcome the attendees.   For the first time in its twenty two year history,  Free seating will be available from 11am-4pm and Seniors sit for free all day.  (limited seats)

The theme for this year’s Diwali festival is Deepotsav, A New Chapter Unfolds.  A key focus will be celebrating 75 years of Indian independence and the variety of Diwali celebrations across India.

We thank Hum Sub for continuing to share the culture of the worlds largest democracy and fifth largest economy of the world, India with the Triangle and North Carolina. I continue to be amazed and inspired with the transformation our Indian community is bringing to our region and state. I know many Indian Americans who work in the Tech Sectors are very familiar or are working on Digital Transformation Initiatives at their companies.

Forget Digital Transformation

We are witnessing Democracy Transformation.   The continued growth and success of our Indian American community is an example of what I call the great American Project, that we can all come from far away places, live up to our god given potential, and live out our dreams in the United States.   Diversity only makes our Democracy stronger.   I see this every day in our All American City of Morrisville.

Hum Sub Diwali provides us one more opportunity to celebrate North Carolina’s connection to India and a new chapter in our state’s history, which continues to unfold, a chapter, where we can be united in our diversity.   For the past two weeks, I wrote on how we can leverage this connection to help get a direct flight to India, which could now happen.    On a personal note, as we come together to celebrate Diwali this Saturday, let us also remember that the greatest light which can always overcome the darkness which may surround us is the light and love of our hearts.

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