The festival began just before noon with many camping out in the morning hours to ensure proper seating and parking. Local vendors and merchants displayed booths along the famed ‘Little India’ lane, from 183rd to 188th Street. Onlookers visited the various shops and restaurants as well, which have been in the city of Artesia for over 20 years. A carnival with 25-foot bouncers and slides was erected for the amusement of children and some young at heart adults.
The main event commenced around 6pm as hundreds of guests gathered at the corner of 187th Street and Pioneer Boulevard to witness an electrifying fashion show and musical concert. The emcee for the event was anchor and producer Sara Alfred, who has worked for numerous Indian news affiliates.The opening act began with a musical performance by Akshay Hari, a 2012 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Top 50 finalist. Hari wowed the audience with various renditions of popular Bollywood hits throughout the night.
The much anticipated fashion show followed which featured clothing from Frontier Heritage and Mirage. Frontier Heritage modeled various evening and bridal wears. The audience enjoyed beautiful colors and textures of each outfit displayed on the runway. Nita Asija, founder of Frontier Heritage, introduced the new line of apparel and thanked everyone for their support and contributions. Asija explained how Frontier Heritage began its roots over 50 years ago in India and vowed to continue its focus on excellence.
The Mirage Collection capped off the fashion extravaganza with a dizzying array of traditional and contemporary apparel for both women and men. Established in 1997 by Samar Bashir, Mirage has set a standard for South Asian luxury clothing. Their line of intricate designs have been donned on the red carpet by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, and Gulshan Grover to name a few.
Various speeches were also given throughout the night including one by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-38th District). She urged everyone to continue to support their communities, not only during the auspicious season but all year long.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca surprised the audience with a special Diwali message. Baca took the stage with his wife Carol and wished everyone a prosperous and joyous Diwali season. Unbeknownst to most in attendance, Baca confirmed he would be seeking a fifth term as Sheriff of Los Angeles County and would be grateful for everyone’s vote. Organizers of the event, Venkatesh Koka, Ishwar Deedwania, Gurpal Sood, Tony of Bangle Bazaar and Faiz of Mezban were quick to single out Baca for his keen support of the mela and were eager to express their gratitude to him.
Jagan Yelisetti, Chair of the Indo American Sheriff’s Advisory Council, was in attendance and urged Baca to increase the hiring of South Asians into the police force.
The night culminated with an empowering musical concert by singer Rex D’Souza, who gained popularity through the reality singing competition Fame Gurukul and K for Kishore. D’Souza parlayed this opportunity into a contract with Sony BMG Crescendo and now tours the world performing at popular venues and festivals.
Accompanied by the Orchestra Music Lovers band from 999 Enterprises Inc, D’Souza wowed the audience with renditions of his favorite bollywood songs such as Ek Hasina Thi Ek Diwana and Ishq Sufiyana. The show culminated in a rousing standing ovation as attendees cheered on all the performers of the night.
The Diwali Mela was co-sponsored by Little India Chamber of Commerce and the city of Artesia. Other sponsors included various merchants and business owners including Highglow Jewelers, Jay Bharat Restaurant, and TalaashBiz.com.