Celebrate the ancient Festival of Lights

Diwali at the MFA celebrates an ancient Festival of Lights observed around the world by many cultures and religions. On Diwali, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains—some of the world’s oldest religions—light a diya (oil lamp) with family and friends, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Enjoy music by Awaaz Do and dance performances with Chhandika and South Asian Nation, engage with members of Subcontinental Drift Boston for an open mic showcase, join a story hour and book signing, and much more. Tour the galleries exploring highlights from the collection of South Asian art, sketch in the galleries, enjoy sweet Diwali treats for purchase at Taste and New American Café, and make art with artist and educator Sunanda Sahay.

Special Events

Book Signing and Reading

5 and 6 pm, Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 160

Join Bharat Babies for Diwali story time! CEO and founder Sailaja Joshi reads Let’s Celebrate Diwali, written by Anjali Joshi and illustrated by Tim Palin. Enjoy a drawing activity and book signing with Tim, and purchase your own copy of Let’s Celebrate Diwali.

Artist Demonstration and Art Making

Rangoli Designs

5–9 pm, Gallery 268

Rangoli is an art form in which patterns are created on the floor using colored rice, sand, flour, or flower petals. Create your own rangoli design with chalk on sandpaper.

ASL interpretation
5–5:45 pm

Madhubani/Mithila Painting

6–9 pm, Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159

Join artist and educator Sunanda Sahay as she demonstrates Madhubani, or Mithila, painting—a traditional style from northern India. Make your own art inspired by her work and themes related to Diwali, and don’t miss the artworks on display by Sunanda’s students.

Q and A with the Artist

6, 6:45, and 7:30 pm

Drop in for a Q and A with Sunanda as she speaks about her techniques and her inspirations.

ASL interpretation
6:45–7:15 pm

SubDrift Boston: Open Mic

7–8 pm, Gallery 168

Enjoy a program of music, poetry, and dance with Subcontinental Drift (SubDrift) Boston, part of a national movement building South Asian creative community through monthly open mics. Join the celebration and reflect on how Diwali and the arts can create greater social and spiritual uplift.

Awaaz Do (Saraswathi Jones)

8:30 pm, Remis Auditorium

Join the band Awaaz Do (Urdu/Hindi for “make some noise” or “speak up”) for a performance drawing on a range of global influences with a focus on South Asia’s diverse soundscapes.


Little Bollywood Superstars

5:30 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Watch these young dancers from local nonprofit South Asian Nation show off the latest Bollywood moves.

Kathak Dimensions: North Indian Classical Dance

6, 6:45, and 7:30 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Members of the Chhandika Dance Ensemble bring the dynamic and innovative traditions of kathak dance to life! This troupe of dancers tells ancient stories through sophisticated rhythms, nuanced footwork, and vibrant music.

Tours and Talks

Curatorial Talk

7:30 pm, Riley Seminar Room, 156

Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, gives a preview of an exhibition in development exploring images of gods and human beings dancing in South Asian art.

ASL interpreted

Highlights Tour

6:15 pm, Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

Take a one-hour tour featuring masterpieces from the MFA collection.

Spotlight Talks

5, 6, and 7 pm, Gallery 176

Enjoy 15-minute talks exploring three highlights of South Asian art, including Ganesh, the auspicious elephant-headed Hindu deity known as the “remover of obstacles”—an important aspect of Diwali.

ASL interpretation
6–6:15 pm


The MFA is committed to accessibility for all visitors. For information, visit Accessibility, e-mail access@mfa.org, or call 617-267-9300 or 617-369-3188 (TTY). Wheelchairs and walkers are available at all entrances, first come, first served.