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PS 65 students celebrate Hindu festival of lights

More than 200 children, parents and teachers celebrated in style the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali at PS 65 in Richmond Hill Monday night.

Students dressed in traditional Indian clothing delighted the crowd with song, dance and a fashion show at the second annual celebration organized by the school’s Parents’ Association.

“Last year was successful, but this year was a bigger success because more parents were involved,” said Pattie Musalin, who organized the event as PA president.

The five-day Diwali festival, also known as Divali, derives from the Sanskrit “dipavali,” or row of lights. It is celebrated throughout India by rich and poor alike, marking the beginning of the Hindu new year. People light small oil lamps and place them in homes, gardens and on rooftops to illuminate the way for visiting gods of good fortune and prosperity. Each day of the holiday carries its own significance, rituals and myths.

As the evening began, students honored their teachers with necklaces made of pink flowers. “In Indian culture, next to parents, teachers are held in the highest esteem and respect,” said Musalin.

Students sang traditional songs and performed traditional Indian dances. They also transformed themselves into models, strutting down a makeshift runway in pairs, clad in colorful, elegant and intricately designed outfits.

“There are a lot of Indian and West Indian children at this school and we wanted to show what our culture is about,” said Musalin.

Her husband, Sheik Musalin, said his wife “woke up in the middle of the night” last year with the idea for the celebration. He said it is important because it gives the students a chance to “share what they have with each other.”

Principal Iris Nelson said the event showed how “rich in multiculturalism” the school was. “It is by celebrating our differences that we make bonds and find out what brotherhood means,” she said.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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