Diwali Celebration – November 5, 2022

Diwali is also known as Deepavali. “Deep” means “light” in Hindu, and “avali” means “a row.” Diwali is often translated into English as “Festival of Lights.” Lights represent prosperity, blessings, and peace. The key message of Diwali is the “spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.”
Diwali is celebrated 15 days after the full moon in the eighth month of the Hindu calendar each year. The festival is typically celebrated from the middle of October to the beginning of November on the Gregorian calendar. It is one of the most important festivals and holidays celebrated in India and other South Asian countries such as Fuji, Nepal, Malaysia, and Singapore. The celebration lasts for five days and begins with cleaning up and decorating the house with lights, statutes, and handicrafts to show reverence for divinity. At night, people set off fireworks and firecrackers to drive away evil. Women wear the traditional saris and men kurtas to celebrate a new beginning. Households light up rows and rows of lights and candles in the evening. On the last day, men and women put a red dot on each other’s foreheads to wish each other longevity.
Aditya Rao, singer-songwriter; Anuradha Ramachandra, Bharatanatyam dancer, and Akhila Damerla, Kuchipudi dancer.

This year the AAPI Cultural Center hosted a Diwali celebration featuring Indian-American singer-songwriter Aditya Rao and two Indian dance groups led by Anuradha Ramachandra and Akhila Damerla. The performances were followed by a Q&A panel, where our artists explored with our audience the Diwali festival and Indian music, dance, and cultures. Topics included:

  • What are the key differences in the styles of Indian music and dance?
  • How did dance become an integral part of traditional Indian heritage?
  • How does dance help Indian American children stay connected with their culture?
  • What is the state of Indian music in North America today?
  • Does “Bollywood” encompass ALL music genres that come from India?
  • How is the South Asian diaspora being featured in mainstream media in North America?
For more photos from the event check out our Diwali Facebook Album:

Our Program

1. Indian Dance Performances

  • “Pushpanjali,” music by Sri Panyam Seetharama Sharma, performed by Kamini Peri, Swapna Guduri, and Viji Ayyadurai
  • “Jaya Janaki Kantha,” music by Purandara Dasa, performed by Anuradha Ramachandra
  • “Aigiri Nandini,” performed by Akhila Damerla
  • Bollywood Medley, performed by Sindhuja Pothu, Deepthi Bala, Geetha Reddy, Seema Prasad, and Sandhya Alluru.

2. Music Program Featuring Aditya Rao, Indian-American Singer-Songwriter

3. Q&A Panel to Explore Indian Music, Dance and Culture

Our Artists

Aditya Rao

Aditya Rao

Aditya Rao is an Austin-based singer-songwriter who originally rose to global recognition after winning India’s prestigious State Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts in 2013 and “Best Debut Artist” in 2015. Classically trained in Carnatic vocals since childhood, Aditya’s music infuses Western styles with Eastern soul to produce a genre-bending, alternative sound.

Aditya can be heard on a variety of celebrated projects with reputable artists across the globe. He has performed for the President of the United States at a stadium packed with 50,000 attendees. His voice can be heard every night at Epcot’s fireworks show in Disney World. He is the lead vocalist and vocal arranger for 9 original songs in the biopic Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (2022). He has sung for Hollywood films and television shows, including Disney’s Mira: Royal Detective (2021), Pup Star: World Tour (2017), Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016), and Beauty in the Broken (2015). He has sung as a chorus member for Billie Eilish, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Camila Cabello, and Carlos Santana. He has also collaborated with multi Grammy and Oscar-winning music director A.R. Rahman on films such as Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (2016) and I (2015).

Aditya’s music takes you on an unconventional, cathartic journey exploring the nooks and crannies of his perception of the world around him in the form of 11 original tracks he has released over the last year. His original covers and collaborations have garnered over 50M+ views.

Anuradha Ramachandra

Anuradha Ramachandra

Anuradha began her Bharatanatyam dance journey as a child with Guru Smt. Padmini Ramachandran in Bangalore, India. Along with her dance school team, she performed in various cities in India, including Bangalore, Mysore, Chennai and Hyderabad.

She continued her dance journey after moving to the US under the guidance of Guru Dr. Sreedhara Akkihebbalu. She has been instrumental in organizing and choreographing dance programs for children and adults including ‘Suvarna Samraja Vaibhava,’ ‘Parashiva,’ and ‘Jeeva Nadi.’ She has performed in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas for AKKA, Navika, and other organizations.

Anuradha runs a dance school, Anugraha School of Performing Arts, where she teaches a variety of students, from children to adults. She believes in spreading knowledge and hopes to inspire others to pursue their passion.

Anuradha Ramachandra

Akhila Damerla

Akhila Damerla is an aspiring Kuchipudi dancer and a practitioner. In 2020 she founded Astra Art of Dance based in Leander, Texas. She is originally from India and started training in the Indian classical dance form Kuchipudi at the age of seven years under the guidance of her teacher, Smt. Sarita Dilip, in Hyderabad, India.

After years of training, Akhila continued professional Kuchipudi dance training under Smt. Lenalaxmi Shatokina (Natya Visharada from Kuchipudi Art Academy Chennai, disciple of Shri. Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam and Shri. Ravi Shanker).

Akhila has become very passionate about Kuchipudi and performed at numerous events in USA and India. She also teaches the younger generation and encourages them to perform on stage. Her deep interest has led her to pursue a diploma in Kuchipudi from Silicon Andhra University, California. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Kuchipudi.

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M-F: 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm


ACC-Northridge Campus
11928 Stonehollow Drive,
Austin, TX 78758


(512) 223-4070


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Our Vision

To support AAPI students in their academic journey at ACC and create opportunities for the community throughout the district to learn about and engage with the AAPI heritage and cultures.