Diwali festivals grow in US, from Disney to Times Square This Nov. 13, 2016 photo shows performers in a Diwali celebration at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Calif. (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort via AP/Frederick Gonzales/City of San Antonio via AP)
Diwali festivals grow in US, from Disney to Times Square

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The holiday of Diwali is starting to light up mainstream America.

Diwali is a festival of lights. It is celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs. It is celebrated by Jains. And it is celebrated by others in India and other countries. It has long been observed in immigrant communities around the U.S.

But now public celebrations of the holiday are starting to pop up. They are popping up in places ranging from Disneyland and Times Square to parks and museums.

The Times Square event is the brainchild of Neeta Bhasin. He says that many Indian immigrants have found great success in the U.S. "But still people don't know much about India. I felt it's about time that we should take India to mainstream America and showcase India's rich culture, heritage, arts and diversity to the world. And I couldn't find a better place than the center of the universe: Times Square."

Bhasin came to the United States from India 40 years ago. He is president of ASB Communications. It is  the marketing firm behind Diwali at Times Square. The event is now in its fourth year. It has drawn tens of thousands of people in the past. It's scheduled for Oct. 7, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. It offers dance performances and Bollywood singers. It also offers a bazaar of food, saris and other goods. It will also feature a lighting ceremony.

Diwali celebrations are held throughout the fall. But the holiday's actual date is Oct. 19. It is also called Deepavali. It's an autumn harvest festival held just before the Hindu new year. Celebrations include lighting oil lamps or candles called diyas. They symbolize "a victory of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness, good over evil," said Bhasin.

There will be a Diwali celebration at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California. It will include performances of traditional Indian dances and a Bollywood dance party for guests. It's part of a festival of holidays at the theme park. The festivals reflect cultural traditions from around the world. The Disney festival begins Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 7.

San Antonio, Texas, has one of the nation's largest city-sponsored celebrations of Diwali. It draws more than 15,000 people each year. The 2017 event is scheduled for Nov. 4 at La Villita. It is a historic arts village. It will be its ninth annual Diwali celebration. It will have Indian dance, entertainment and food. It will also feature crafts and fireworks. There will be a  release of lighted candles into the San Antonio River. That's along the city's River Walk.

New York City's Rubin Museum will mark Diwali with an overnight Ragas Live Festival featuring more than 50 Indian classical musicians. They will be performing amid the museum's collection of sacred Himalayan art. The event begins Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. and continues all day and night through Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. Chai and mango lassis will be served. Visitors will have access to all the galleries and pop-up events like meditation and sunrise prayer will be offered. Special tickets will be sold for the opportunity to sleep beneath the artwork.

Other places hosting Diwali celebrations include Cary, North Carolina, in Regency Park, Oct. 14. Flushing Town Hall, Queens, New York, Oct. 29. The Seattle Center, Oct. 21. The Dulles Expo center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 7-8. And Memorial Park in Cupertino, California, Sept. 30. 

In Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio History Center is hosting a photo exhibit about the city's fast-growing population of immigrants with a Diwali event Oct. 8. The immigrants come from Nepal, Bhutan and India.

Bhasin said Diwali's message is particularly timely now. "It is extremely important to be together and showcase to the world, not only Indians, but the entire immigrant community, to be together with Americans and to show the world we are one, we are all the same human beings," she said.

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Why is this holiday popular?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • EthanN-5
    2/26/2018 - 09:36 a.m.

    I like how the tradition is spread throughout the U.S. It gives the United States a sense of nationality. The way they are celebrating these events make this very special.

  • LinaS-
    2/26/2018 - 09:37 a.m.

    The event this culture celebrates is where more people will celebrate it and how many other cultures try new things everyone is equal and we all are human beings not threw culture or race. And we could learn some of the dances they do in this event too try something new.

  • SyedaA-
    2/26/2018 - 09:37 a.m.

    This holiday is so popular because so many people celebrate it.
    There's people from Nepal and India coming to America to celebrate it. I find this holiday very interesting and cool.

  • TasnimH-
    2/26/2018 - 09:40 a.m.

    Since this event is being spread through out the states more people will know about Indian culture.Some people might've wanted to celebrate this holiday after they left India in a public place.

  • NailahK-
    2/26/2018 - 09:49 a.m.

    I feel like this is cultural appropriation. The picture shown above is a group of white people dressed in traditional Indian dresses.Like, the history between the British and Indians were tragic, now they're just taking their dresses and dancing around in Disney land. I understand the picture below since it was traditional dance with Indian people at a show, but Disney land isn't any sacred place,its just a theme park.

  • SeleneK-
    2/26/2018 - 09:50 a.m.

    This holiday is popular because all types of people come over from the world to celebrate this event in Disneyland and Times Square.

  • AnthonyR-16
    2/26/2018 - 09:53 a.m.

    see this is what makes america the best country in the world, opportunity, freedom, and diversity, but were not doing ok,America ranks 13th in starting a business, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank. The U.S. ranks 47th in press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. So much for freedom of the press. The U.S. ranks 20th in international trade, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank. The U.S., which ranks 15th in dealing with debt insolvency according to the Doing Business rankings. The U.S. is ranked 10th in economic freedom, according to The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. is 25th among 43 developing countries for the best place to be a mother, according to Save The Children. The U.S. is only the 11th happiest country in the world, according Columbia University's Earth Institute. There are 21 countries better than America in freedom from corruption, according to Heritage.org. The U.S. was ranked 24th in perceived honesty, according to Transparency.org. America is ranked 39th in income inequality according to the CIA World Factbook. Need a Hepatitis B vaccination? The U.S. is ranked 89th in percentage of children who have been vaccinated according to theWorld Health Organization. The U.S. is only 47th in infant survival? That's true, according to the CIA World Factbook.Want to live a long life? Don't live in the U.S., which is 50th in life expectancy according to the CIA World Factbook. How well is our economy growing? The U.S. GDP growth rate is ranked 169th out of 216 countries, according to the CIA World Factbook. Our GDP per capita is only 12th in the world, behind Qatar and Liechtenstein, says the CIA World Factbook. Our unemployment percentage is worse than 102 of the 200 countries listed by the CIA World Factbook. The U.S. is an embarrassing 142nd out of 150 countries in infrastructure investment, according to the CIA World Factbook. America's budget deficit is ranked 192nd in debt relative to GDP, according to the CIA World Factbook. The growth rate of our industrial production is ranked 79th, according to the CIA World Factbook. The U.S. is only 11th in oil exports, according to the CIA World Factbook. Our oil reserves is only the 13th most in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook. The U.S. is ranked 192nd, dead last, in the net trade of goods and services, according to the CIA World Factbook.
    Our reserve of foreign exchange and gold is ranked 19th, according to the CIA World Factbook, right behind Indonesia.
    The U.S. is ranked the 28th best soccer team by FIFA.
    In terms of the percentage of women holding public office, the U.S. ranks 79th out of 147 countries, says the IPU.

  • AnthonyR-16
    3/08/2018 - 08:27 p.m.

    It’s nice to have a diversity of religion and culture, it just makes us look better

  • ConnerL-2
    3/16/2018 - 09:42 a.m.

    I believe that this religion or culture being spread is a great chance for preople to expieriment with their own religion

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