Acton, Boxborough, and Littleton Celebrate DiwaliFest Together

October 9, 2023

A perfect fall day with blue skies and sunshine was delivered on Sunday, October 8, to draw as many as 2,000 people to the second annual DiwaliFest on the lawn of the Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough. The spark that initiated the event planning was the desire of several students to acknowledge the successful, years-long effort to add Diwali to the school calendar in the Acton/Boxborough and Littleton school districts as a day off; it has evolved into a well-attended, inclusive celebration of culture and community.

Sunbeams illuminate a crowd of colorfully dressed people.
Musicians perform at DiwaliFest, Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough. Photo credit: Alissa Nicol

More than thirty vendors set up tents and tables around the large field. Attendees streamed in along the path leading from the Blanchard Elementary School parking lot and down from the library’s parking lot where shuttle buses transported people from satellite parking lots. The shuttle buses were arranged by organizer Deepika Prakash because the Blanchard lot was full before the end of the event, creating a challenge for community members eager to attend. Prakash applied for, and was awarded, a grant from the Acton Boxborough Cultural Council to support the event. Proceeds from the event support Asha for Education, a 501(c)(3) supporting grassroots educational projects in India.

Food and beverages (including a special flavor of ice cream called Kulfi served by WestSide Creamery), crafts, art, clothing, jewelry and books were available for purchase, and there were also several free children’s activities and community information tables. Children of all ages enjoyed decorating the terracotta lamps called “diyas,” paper plate “rangolis,” and applying Diwali temporary tattoos. Several large rangolis were made by families on the library patio using colored sand in a Rangoli Contest, with voting by festival attendees.

Beginning at 2:00 PM, performers provided music and dance performances at the stage area, whose backdrop also served as a “photo booth” for attendees before and after sets. Anvi Khatri, a senior at Acton Boxborough High School, performed first on the tabla, a percussion instrument. Dance performances featured students of the GuruKool Enrichment Center (Folk Dance from the state of West Bengal, and also Bollywood), Saris Natya Academy (Bharatnatyam Classical Dance from the state of Tamil Nadu, India), the Upasana Dance School (Odissi Classical Dance from the state of Orissa, India), and the Rachana Agarwai Team (Bollywood). The final performance, pictured here, was a percussion set by the group Dhol Tasha, performing music from the state of Maharashtra, India. 


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