JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek Art Center hosted a drive-up family event on Nov. 7 to help residents celebrate and learn about the Hindu holiday, Diwali.

Diwali, the most important holiday celebrated by Hindus, is known as the Indian Festival of Lights. Deepa Lahoti, Johns Creek Art Center board member, said that Diwali marks the Hindu New Year and is a celebration of the victory of light over dark and good over evil. Diwali takes place every year in late October or early November on the New Moon, which occurs on the darkest day of the lunar month. This year Diwali took place on Nov. 14. On this day, houses are cleaned and lamps or candles are lit to welcome new beginnings and good fortune.

Part of the Arts Center’s mission, Lahoti said, is to celebrate the diversity in Johns Creek and help teach others about the cultures around them.

“Basically, we just want to celebrate our entire community,” Lahoti said.  “We want everyone to be involved. We want to also help with the artwork and the teaching of what the significance is behind these events.”

Families who attended the drive-up Diwali celebration were given activity bags for children that included a pamphlet with more information on the holidayi, a sticker book, stick-on bindis or forehead decorations, and a clay, paintable lamp. Each family was given sweets donated by Suvidha, a large Indian grocery store in Johns Creek.

In addition to the drive-up event, the Johns Creek Art Center also highlighted Indian artwork with a virtual exhibit, “Celebrating Diwali and South Asian Artists.” The virtual exhibit can be viewed on the art center’s website at johnscreekarts.org.

Original plans called for the Diwali celebration at the Arts Center to include music and performers along with the exhibit. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the board opted for the drive-up event.

Lahoti said the Arts Center’s mission extends beyond holidays and cultural celebrations. It trickles into other aspects of the community, including the underserved.

“It's not just to celebrate the holidays, but it's to serve the underserved whether they’re children or the elderly,” Lahoti said. “We work to serve everyone and not leave anyone out.”

Althea Foster, programming director and curator for the organization, said that the art center has plans for seven family days to celebrate more holidays, such as Chinese New Year and the Day of the Dead in 2021. Foster said they hope to make these celebrations an annual occurrence and eventually hold them in the facility.

In January, the Johns Creek Arts Center will have another virtual exhibit, “Perspective 2020,” highlighting art created in 2020 and how the artists viewed the year.

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