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
Lexile

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

Diwali is a festival of lights. It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and 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 who came to the United States from India 40 years ago is president of ASB Communications. It is the marketing firm behind Diwali at Times Square. The event, now in its fourth year, 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, Bollywood singers, 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 that 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, drawing more than 15,000 people each year. The 2017 event is scheduled for Nov. 4 at La Villita, a historic arts village. It will be its ninth annual Diwali celebration with Indian dance, entertainment, food, crafts, fireworks and the release of lighted candles into the San Antonio River 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 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; and the Seattle Center, Oct. 21. Also hosting celebrations are 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 from Nepal, Bhutan and India, with a Diwali event Oct. 8.

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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is this holiday popular?
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COMMENTS (31)
  • KahlilW-del
    10/03/2017 - 04:10 p.m.

    This is popular cause the event gives many fun activities like dance performances bazaar food it’s a festival where all people can have fun

  • SofiaT-del
    10/03/2017 - 04:39 p.m.

    I enjoyed reading this inspiring article. I find it interesting that such culture and arts can travel across the world. I find inspiring how things like this could start off so small, but then become amazingly enormous. This article shares hope for the arts that sometimes aren't recognized nor appreciated.

  • CadenceG-del
    10/03/2017 - 05:27 p.m.

    This holiday sounds like a fun way for people to get together. The festival of lights would me a great time to get to know of/about other cultures. I would attend.

  • TiffanyW-del
    10/03/2017 - 05:51 p.m.

    This holiday is popular because it shows the traditions and cultures of India and other different countries. They wanted Americans to share the love of this holiday so they brought it to the center of America: Times Square. Once Americans got to witness this amazing holiday, they started doing their own festivals at places near them.

  • HannahR -del
    10/03/2017 - 05:51 p.m.

    I think this article "Diwali festivals in US, from Disney to Times Square" is an interesting article because "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." I think that this very creative and an amazing festival.

  • GiannaC-del
    10/03/2017 - 06:09 p.m.

    I think it is important for all people to be aware of their culture and be able to celebrate even if they aren’t in the country. America has so many different ethnicities, so having events such as this Diwali celebration from India is important for people to know a little know about their backgrounds. Times Sqaure and Disneyland are great places to show these cultures off, as well, to those who wanna learn about other countries celebrations.

  • AngelinaB-del
    10/03/2017 - 06:09 p.m.

    I think this article is very interesting. The article gives a lot of information that helps me understand another religious holiday. It also gives me a list of times and places that I can go and see Diwali events. That list can help me understand more information about Diwali. From this article, I have learned some interesting facts about Diwali that I didn't know before.

  • GiannaC-del
    10/03/2017 - 06:10 p.m.

    I was not able to take the quiz. It kept saying there was an error and the page no longer exists.

  • PoojaT-del
    10/03/2017 - 06:19 p.m.

    I think this holiday is so popular because it is a cultural event, which many people enjoy. I think all the information in this article sums up what this festival is about. One thing I don't like about this article is that people always use the same type of picture of dancers in the same pose, as if that is the only dance move that we do. It gets me very mad and most people just don't understand why I get mad. Only someone from my culture can understand the anger I have towards people who put these type of photos online about Indians. This is not the only " traditional" dance move we have. There are many more but people use the same photo which gets me very mad. I wish someone can realize what I mean.

  • SamanthaM-del1
    10/03/2017 - 06:41 p.m.

    This holiday Diwali has always been celebrated. But not since recently, has the holiday been celebrated in places like Disneyland and Times Square. This holiday celebrates India's heritage.

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