ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Diwali is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated across the world, and Thursday night NY State Senator Jeremy Cooney threw the first ever Diwali event hosted by an elected official in Rochester.

Diwali is also known as the Festival of Lights. Senator Cooney explains the five-day festival marks the start of the Hindu new year and holds significant religious and cultural value. He’s excited to bring the tradition —which represents spiritual victory of light over darkness— to Rochester.

“We can turn on the news, and read the paper and there’s so much negative,” Cooney said, “but what are those moments of brightness that we can lift up and celebrate? There are still good people and good things happening here and across the state, and Diwali is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate that.”

He and others lit the diya, participated in a blessing, and enjoyed cultural performances and food. Governor Kathy Hochul participated in several events earlier in New York City. A representative from her office was in Rochester for Thursday’s celebration.