Celebrate Diwali with Sangam Fort Wayne

Since 1975, the Sangam Indian Cultural Society of Fort Wayne has been providing cultural experiences and passing on knowledge of Indian heritage and traditions in Fort Wayne.

Dancing at Sangam Diwali 2022This Saturday, they’re hosting a Diwali Event at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and inviting everyone to participate in the festival of lights. Sangam Fort Wayne President Harini Bonam says the evening will feature performances, authentic Indian cuisine, and dancing. Tickets are available online, and everyone is welcome. 

“​​It will be an exposure and experience of our Indian culture, hospitality and celebration,” says Bonam. “For anyone who is attending for the first time, we have some non-Indian guests who have been regulars over the year.”

Diwali, or Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The word “Deepavali” is derived from Sanskrit and means “row of lights.” 

“The celebrations and rituals vary in different regions of India. What remains constant is its embodiment of the spirit of forgiveness, togetherness and prosperity,” Bonam wrote in a 2020 op-ed for the Journal Gazette.

Diwali is celebrated annually in October or November based on the lunar calendar.

“Diwali is celebrated in India and worldwide by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs,” Bonam says in the 2020 op-ed. “Homes are cleaned and decorated during the day and illuminated at night with earthen oil lamps. Diwali is a four-day celebration. The goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped on the third day, Amavasya (the new moon phase). It is marked by major celebrations with faith, fervor and festivity. It is the darkest night of the month, which is lit with lamps, lights and fireworks. Outside of India, it is more than a festival – it is a celebration of the South Asian identity.”

Rangoli at Sangam DiwaliThe Diwali Event is one of three events hosted by Sangam every year as part of its mission. In the spring, the group hosts Sangam Holi and over the summer they host a summer picnic.

As president of Sangam, Bonam says she’s made it her mission to spread awareness.

“As the president, I had made it my mission and goal to spread awareness about the Indian Culture and the Indian Community at large here in Fort Wayne in whatever way I can,” she says. “I like to use the phrase, ‘BIGGER & BETTER, BY THE YEAR!’”

Bonam has been president since January of 2023. Before that, she was secretary of the Sangam Board from 2017-2022. Since moving to Fort Wayne in 2015, Bonam has been an active advocate in the community. She is also involved with AVOW, the Young Women and Girls Committee of the Women’s Fund, and the Circle Steering Committee of the YWCA. 

According to Sangam, the first documented settlement of families from Indiana can be traced back to the early 1960s. Some of those original settlers were on the founding committee of Sangam in 1975.

“Sangam” is a Sanskrit word, which means joining or confluence. The Sangam membership directory describes its name as a very appropriate word for the organization and its members, as Fort Wayne is the confluence of three rivers and its members are from many parts of the Indian subcontinent.

Tickets and event information for Sangam Diwali are available here.

Learn more about Sangam Fort Wayne here.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.