Jamaican takes lead as Diwali first lights up Broward, Florida

Diwali, the international Hindu Festival of Lights which celebrates good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair, hit Broward County, Florida, for the first time this year, with a Jamaican taking the lead.

Alison Smith, the history-making Jamaican-American lawyer who this year became the first woman of colour to be elected president of the near century-old Broward County Bar Association (BCBA), was tasked with bringing the festival to the county and is still receiving ringing praises for the highly successful staging.

“In line with my commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion, and in a nod to my Indian heritage, given that my grandmother is Indian, I was determined to make it a night of magic,” said an excited Smith who grew up in St Elizabeth, Jamaica.

“We transported guests to India touching all five senses – sight, hear, feel, smell and taste – by having delectable food, Indian dancers, a henna tattoo artist, a real Indian rickshaw that we used as our photo booth and had a sitar player,” she gushed.

The festival also featured the only Indian US federal judge, Justice Raag Singhal, who lit the diyas, which are lamps commonly used during Diwali. The event attracted national coverage from a popular legal publication called Law 360.

The Indian Bollywood dancers who performed two 20-minute numbers which had the enthusiastic participation of the audience, the henna tattoo artist and the Indian rickshaw that doubled as photo booth, lent authenticity to the event.

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