Inaugural Light Festival Offers Food, Crafts, Dance

Students put their hands in a circle to show off their henna designs.
Henna designs, like these created at a previous Asian Pacific Islander Night Market, will be available at the Light Festival on Nov. 18 on the East Quad. (Lou Cha/UC Davis)

The first UC Davis Light Festival — a free, family-friendly event that combines festivities of both the Asian and Pacific Islander (AandPI) and Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian (MENASA) communities — will be hosted by the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center on the East Quad from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. 

The Davis campus community can enjoy a variety of food and craft vendors, community activity booths and live performances by student organizations. The community activity booths includes henna and face painting, as well as crafts like origami, diya lamp painting, kite making and lantern decorating. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or a picnic blanket to sit on the lawn and enjoy the entertainment, including classical Indian dances, a Hmong fashion show and a Chinese orchestra performance. 

Light is symbolically significant to both the AandPI and MENASA communities, and light itself means various different things to the people in these communities,” said Melissa Segura, AandPI community coordinator and third-year student of environmental policy analysis. “We want the Light Festival to spread light so that we can center and celebrate these communities.”

The festival is the first cultural day to be hosted by the Cross Cultural Center this academic year. Most cultural days are usually celebrated in spring. This event is expanding from its origins in the Asian Pacific Islander Community Night Market, which began in 2015 in collaboration with the Taiwanese American Organization. The MENASA community did not have a public culture day. 

“We created the Light Festival to center these two very large diaspora communities and showcase their intersectionalities and also how different and unique each community is in their own ways,” said Lou Cha, program coordinator for the Cross Cultural Center. “We hope that people who attend this event feel a sense of belongingness and develop a connection with their communities.” 

For more information or to find volunteer opportunities, follow @ucdlightsfestival and @ucd_ccc on Instagram.

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