We had one of our big Diwali celebrations in San Diego on October 15, 2016. It was the Festival of Lights held at Balboa Park. It was a fantastic event, yet again. This year it was special, because as well as dancing, we had singing, and there was a world-class singer who entertained us, so it was truly magnificent. His name is Aditya Rao, and apparently he has won several awards, and has appeared in several videos like the one below:
Here he is performing at Balboa Park, and he’s also seen in this video that I made
Here is a video that shows the lighting of the lamps display, and the women carrying the lamps during the lamp parade.
Here is a video showing Punjabi music and specifically, Bhangra at the Festival Of Lights….spectacular!
Here are more photos showing Aditya Rao, and the performances that he was part of.
Here are some other pictures taken at Festival Of Lights
These are the lamps on display. I have never taken pictures of the lamps before as I always get a seat, and never venture towards the lamps, but this year I did, and I’m glad!
Here are some of the other performances
One of Aditya Rao again, with the main presenter
Here’s little Chandra having fun!
This is Aditya Rao standing with the main organizers and this is just prior to the Indian Anthem being sung
President Barack Obama graced Diwali at Balboa Park with his presence, even though it was just on screen. He wished us a Happy Diwali! This was ever so nice, just to see President Obama in Balboa Park!
I really love going to the Festival Of Lights, as I enjoy seeing the performances, seeing Balboa Park again, seeing the stage graced by beautiful dances in clothes that sparkle, and then of course the lights tinkle! I also enjoy eating the Indian food that is available from many of the vendors who participate in Festival Of Lights. This year I got samosas, chicken saag and rice, and gulab jamun – that was two trays of food for me and Chandra, which included passion fruit juice for her and a nice cup of Pumpkin Spice Chai that cost just $9. You can’t beat that price!
I hope you enjoyed my pictures of the Festival Of Lights, and I hope you all have a truly beautiful Diwali. May light conquer over darkness, may good prevail over evil, and may we all experience peace, joy and prosperity on Diwali, and in the year ahead. Happy Diwali!
Time’s already flying by, and it’s February now, but I still haven’t shared December Nights, 2015 with you. Must hurry up, or it will be December again. Just my luck! I don’t want time to go that quickly. There’s no rush…..I will get too old too quickly like this – slow down time!
December Nights at Balboa Park in San Diego is always a fun event. It’s a two day extravaganza, and my family really enjoys it. This year we had to go without Niki, my oldest – since she has started college, and moved away. Still, it’s a fun event for kids of all ages, and adults alike, and I think I might love it even more than my kids do!
This year, we went early. Even though the even starts at 12 noon or so, most people don’t go until 5pm, as they like to be there in the evening when all the lights are on, as well as the Christmas tree at the Organ Pavilion. However, traffic is crazy and hectic, and so is parking. A few times now, we have parked at Petco Park, and then taken a shuttle bus from there to Balboa Park, but this time I wanted to park at the Zoo, and combine December Nights with a trip to the Zoo. So, we got to the Zoo at around 1:45 pm, and were easily able to find a parking spot. We spent about one and a half hours there.
We then took the short walk to Balboa Park – an easy 5 or 10 minute walk.
We first saw the Fountain area, close to one of the museums, and had a little snack, then walked past the Botanical Gardens area where the beautiful flowers, and Reflective Pond is; then we went to the Grinch tree, which is by the Old Globe Theatre, and actually spotted the Grinch!
We then went to see some of the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and since Chandra wanted to eat, we went towards the International Cottages area. When I heard Indian music, that beckoned me, and I was so glad I had allowed myself to be beckoned like that – because that became the highlight of my entire evening. I normally enjoy the Organ Pavilion area, and the Christmas songs so much, and enjoyed them again this year, but this time I allowed myself to actually wander away from the performances at the Organ Pavilion to experience more of what was taking place at the International Cottages area, and these are two competing performance areas – one on the big stage, and the other on a smaller stage, but equally powerful in performance. While one concentrates on performances that are mainly musical, and showcases instruments being played, and singers performing – the smaller stage at the International Cottages focuses on dance. The dance aspect is really entertaining, as you still have the music and the songs, but now have further entertainment too. I absolutely loved it, and my little Chandra got up to dance on the stage for the Grand Finale of the Indian dancing!
Here are two videos that I made – one shows the Grand Finale that Chandra was in,
and the other one shows a variety of performances, and dances that were performed. This includes the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and the Scottish Bagpipe Band, as well as the San Diego Chorus, and of course, the Indian dance performances which took place at the International Cottages.
I love December Nights, there is nothing quite like it!
The Diwali Mela took place in the Black Mountain Road area of Mira Mesa, San Diego on October 25, 2014. It was a packed-out event, and a great way to spend the evening. There were many performances to Bollywood songs, and of course at least one to Bhangra!
Here are some pictures, and at the bottom of this page, you can see some videos that I made. If there is one thing that should strike you from looking at the pictures is that Indian outfits are so colorful, as well as pretty!
Now, for a break away from the performances – just take a look at all the people, and there were more!
I tried a few different dishes including the Punjabi Karhi and Rice, one of my favorites – I should have taken a picture! I did take one of the Alloon Paratha – which were quite delicous (bread stuffed with potatoes and spices, that is cooked on a tava or griddle, and then smothered with oil or butter).
Now back to the pictures of the performers.
I hope that added some color into your day!
Here is the video showing the Punjabi dance:
Here is the video showing the Rajasthan dance:
Here is the video showing a variety of the performances, including the women’s fashion show and the men’s fashion show.
Don’t miss the performance towards the end of this last video showing a dance to Bang Bang – the Bollywood movie starring Hrithik Roshan, and watch out for the little boy in the audience who definitely has dance fever!
I enjoy Bollywood and Bhangra music and dance. I just love Indian culture, and there’s nothing wrong with that – after all, I am Indian. I may have grown up in England, and now live in the USA, but culture is deeper than where we live, it’s the embodiment of who we are – who we interact with, and what makes us bond together, and what we enjoy. I may be Indian, but I am also British and I’m also American. I may love Bollywood, and Bhangra, but additionally….. I love pop music, soul music, reggae music and jazz, and even a bit of rap. If I didn’t love the other forms of music, I wouldn’t tape them as ardently as I do when I go on cruises, and then show the world…..I only do that – because I love to watch most forms of dance and musical entertainment, and then of course, I love to photograph and video tape it too!
When I had the chance to introduce a bit of culture on a cruise ship, I was all for it. I hired a group – UCSD Zor – one of the top Bollywood dance teams in the USA – to perform on my Bindi Cruise to Mexico on the Carnival Splendor in July, 2011. I didn’t think twice about it. It took a lot of planning, and was quite a huge undertaking for me – a fairly new travel agent at that time (I just started in this business in January 2010). Would I do something like that again? Who knows? Maybe, sometime in the future.
I love Bollywood movies, but when it really comes to Indian music – I have to admit that I love Bhangra just a bit more than I do Bollywood. That’s why I asked Zor – who are really more of a Bollywood team to do a Bhangra routine, and guess what…..they were really good at it. When you have versatility like that, you are true performers. I was really happy with the performances of Zor on the cruise. Here’s a picture of UCSD Zor below, they are fantastic at both Bollywood and Bhangra!
And here I am with UCSD Zor who are in their Bollywood outfits now, instead of Bhangra outfits (as above)
Want to know more about Bhangra? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhangra_(music)
Want to see a fabulous Bhangra dance video that I put together of UCSD Zor – one of the top Bollywood dance teams in the USA, when they were dancing to Bhangra on my Bindi Cruise to Mexico on the Carnival Splendor?
Want to see a fantastic Bollywood dance video that I put together of UCSD Zor when they performed on my Bindi Cruise to Mexico?
Thank you for reading!