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AKRON, Ohio — Using a piece of chalk, Nirali Schrader touched up traditional Indian art piece called rangoli.
“Rangoli art [is] supposed to be done with the rice or sand art. But, we decided to go with the chalk because of the Ohio weathers,” Schrader said.
Schrader’s designs welcomed guests at the Downtown Akron Diwali Festival on Sunday, Oct. 23.
“Diwali is the lightness over the darkness, and the good over the evil,” Schrader said.
The Indian-born artist said Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in her home country. She said people typically celebrate it by lighting candles and lamps. Wearing bright clothes and putting up colorful decorations is also popular.
“Everything has to be more colorful. There’s nothing black and white during Diwali time,” Schrader said.
The Hindu festival of lights lasts five days, and each day carries a different meaning.
“So much things goes with the Diwali,” Schrader said. “It’s rangoli, food, dressing up, and making some nice food, decorating your house. It’s like [it] bring[s] the nice positiveness, and the happiness and connection to your life,” Schrader said.
Schrader added that many consider the third day of the festival to be the most important.
“It’s a main day of the Diwali. So, that’s the day you go to your friends and family[’s] house, bring the gift to that house. Bring something to offer,” Schrader said.
The artist also noted that community is a major component of the holiday. Schrader’s in-laws joined her at the event.
“It’s just like a Christmas, like, you know, when you’re doing the Christmas, you’re trying to get together. So, it’s very nice [to] get together and you get families, friends, you invite friends, you invite your family and eat together, make food together, have fun together,” Schrader said.
It’s immersion that Schrader said that she’s happy to extend to others.
“My husband, he’s American, and I just thought it would be very nice for them to understand being like my father-in-law and mother-in-law,” Schrader said. [I want them to] understand why the Diwali is so important to me because it’s my culture. It’s the most important festival.”
The five-day festival ends on Wednesday this year.

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