Cupertino celebrates Diwali, Hindu festival of lights (PHOTOS)

Organizers estimated more than 10,000 people attended the tenth annual Diwali celebration Saturday in Cupertino’s Memorial Park. Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most important Hindu celebrations in India and has become more popular in the United States in recent years. Visitors came from around the Bay Area to celebrate with friends and family.

Children dressed in elaborate saris performed traditional Indian dances to kick off the event. City officials lit clay lamps, called diyas, to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. The festivities, which include singing and sharing food, signify joy, splendor and brightness. (Story continues below.)

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“It’s bringing the communities closer together,” said Mahesh Nihalani, Cupertino Chamber of Commerce board member. “This is a festival for everybody in the larger community. It brings a lot of people here who can share the culture and the food.”

Nihalani organized the first Diwali event in 2002 and has watched the event grow from a small, three-hour affair with a couple of booths to this year’s eight-hour celebration with 24 corporate sponsors.

“It’s the happy, happy, happiest feeling,” Nihalani said. “It’s amazing to see it grow like that from what it was 10 years ago when we started it.”

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