Washington: In a historic first, Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, was celebrated at the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which was a riveting sight for passengers, visitors, airport personnel, flight and cabin crew.
Akanksha Sharma, marketing associate for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and the brainchild behind the celebration, told The American Bazaar: “This is the first event of its kind both in the region and at IAD.”
The airport authority operates both IAD and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. A gateway to the world, Dulles Airport serves over 24 million passengers a year. It is located in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, some 26 miles west of downtown Washington, DC.
Together, the counties house over half of Virginia’s Indian population which equates to some 65,000 residents. Air India inaugurated its capital-to-capital connection between Dulles and New Delhi in 2017 and the airport has seen a steady increase in passengers of Indian origin.
“We wanted to showcase the rich Indian culture,” said Sharma hoping the initial efforts will lay the groundwork for a sparkling annual event. “We have a lot of passengers of Indian and Asian descent who travel through our airport, and who celebrate Diwali. The goal is to organize the event on a large scale.”
Friday’s festivities included Indian dance performances by students of the Sterling-based Nrityaki Dance Academy, henna art demonstration, giveaway cookies embellished with “Happy Diwali” and freebie international chargers.
“This event is a fantastic initiative promoting our culture in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area,” Sneha Misra, winner of the 2019 Miss India DC pageant, told The American Bazaar.
“Nrityaki artistes performing at Dulles Airport is something new…. Indian-Americans are always making strides in new directions,” she said.