WEST CHESTER (October 28, 2019) – Members of Chester County’s Indian community and beyond have taken to celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, by giving back to those in need through food drives and other community endeavors, state Senator Andy Dinniman said today.

“Chester County and the surrounding region is home to a large and growing Indian population. It’s rewarding and inspiring to see individuals and families celebrating their cultural and religious traditions by working to help others,” Dinniman said. “This is not just an opportunity to give back to our neighbors in need, but it’s also a chance to promote understanding between cultures and to embrace the true meaning of community.”

Several food drives in celebration of Diwali are currently underway:

  • Conestoga High School’s Desi Club is supporting the #SewaDiwali Food Drive, benefitting Philabundance, from October 28 to November 8. The school district-wide food drive is seeking donations of vegetarian and nonperishable food items. Items can be dropped off in the main lobbies of all Tredyffrin-Easttown schools or at the Tredyffrin Public Library. The #SewaDiwali Food Drive will culminate with a Diwali Celebration at the Tredyffrin Public Library on November 16 from 1 to 6 p.m.
  • The Diwali Food Drive, originally led by the Byers Station Community in Downingtown, has now expanded to include multiple communities across the region, including Applecross, Atwater, Bell Tavern, Chestnut Ridge, Chester Springs, Eagle Hunt, Malvern Hunt, Greenville Overlook, the Reserve at Eagle, the Reserve at Chester Springs, Whiteland Woods, Windsor Ridge, and the Ridings. Food drive events at those communities, to benefit the Chester County Food Bank and local food pantries, will take place on November 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Visit diwalifooddrive.com for details.

In addition, Dinniman noted that students and teachers at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School and Conestoga High School have organized an art project that benefits Bhutanese refugees residing in the Philadelphia area.

In the spirit of Diwali, Dr. Milind Dhamankar and his son, Mihir Dhamankar, a student at Conestoga High School, have worked with students to teach the refugees and their families how to make traditional Diwail lanterns (or “Kandils”). The colorful, paper-cut lanterns, an integral part of Diwali celebration, are then sold to members of the Indian community, both locally and across the nation, with the proceeds benefiting the refugees.

Over the last five years, this initiative, under the motto “Kindle Hope, Buy a Kandil,” has helped the Bhutanese refugees sell more than 1,500 lanterns and raise more than $7,500.

“The Kandil project is a great example of community working across cultural lines to promote inclusion through empowerment and entrepreneurialism,” Dinniman said. “And the most amazing part is, at the same time, we’re teaching artistic skills to the next generation that will help keep these cultural traditions alive.”