- From homes to parks and temples, and at iconic venues and landmark hotels, Indian Americans have been coming out in large numbers to usher in the festival of lights.
Diwali festivities have taken over American social calendars and Instagram feeds. From homes to parks and temples, and at iconic venues and landmark hotels, Indian Americans have been coming out in large numbers to usher in the festival of lights. Dressed in their festive best hundreds were seen at various events hosted by A-list celebrities, politicians, as well as prominent members of the community, reflecting on contributions of the South Asian Americans and the relevance of the festival of lights in the contemporary world.
In New York City, the celebrations kicked off on Oct. 28, as the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side sparkled with South Asian American business and entertainment leaders attending the ‘All That Glitters Diwali Ball.’ About 300 people attend the fourth edition of the annual event, The New York Times reported. Hosts included Indra Nooyi, the former chief executive of PepsiCo; Anjula Acharia, an entrepreneur who also manages Priyanka Chopra-Jonas; Nepali American designer Prabal Gurung, and poet Rupi Kaur.
Some of the same celebrities were spotted at a Nov. 3 event cochaired and hosted by Preet Bharara, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, and Kal Penn at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for an evening of food, gifts, and celebration.
On Nov. 2, the Desai Foundation held its 10th annual Diwali on the Hudson benefit to raise awareness about the health and livelihood of more than 7 million women and children in rural India. “We’re thrilled that our 10th annual Festival of Lights benefit raised awareness and support for The Desai Foundation’s programs,” said Megha Desai, president of the Desai Foundation. “Diwali is typically celebrated more privately, but we wanted to connect second and third-generation South Asians of all backgrounds and educate New Yorkers about Diwali.” The sold-out event featured a performance by Arianna Asfar and was attended by celebrity chef Palak Patel, TV star Aparna Shewakramani, actress Ami Sheth, Nina Davuluri, singer Falu Shah, filmmaker Shruti Ganguly, Nikhil Saboo, actress Sway Bhatia, and over 400 New York celebrities, influencers, and business moguls.
This year’s events in New York City took on special significance as Diwali is now officially a New York City public school holiday. Lawmakers have also introduced a bill that, if passed, will mandate federal recognition of the festival.
The community has been celebrating since last month, with the start of the Navratri festival. People attended several Garba events as well as Durga puja celebrations hosted across the country. Some Diwali celebrations began early as well. In New York, the Association of Indo-Americans held its annual Diwali Mela on Oct. 1 at the South Street Seaport with cultural dance performances, vendor booths and entertainment. A few days later, in Times Square, Mayor Eric Adams and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar celebrated the festival of lights along with hundreds of Indian Americans. The who’s who of New York were seen at Gracie Mansion for a Diwali celebration hosted by Adams on Oct. 18.
In neighboring New Jersey, thousands turned out at the Diwali celebration at Papaianni Park in Edison on Nov. 4. Similar events were held in California, Texas, and other parts of the country. The BAPS Hindu Temple in Rancho Cordova, California held a Diwali Festival on Nov. 4. The celebration was attended by roughly 4,200 attendees throughout the day, including many elected officials, CBS News Sacramento reported.
Hundreds of San Antonians turned out at the 15th annual Diwali San Antonio festival in Texas. The annual event is co-hosted by the City of San Antonio and Anuja SA, a nonprofit founded to promote the sister city alliance between San Antonio and Chennai, which was signed in 2008, according to the San Antonia Report. In Dallas, the Diwali spectacle at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas drew tens of thousands of people to celebrate together. The Ram Leela play, featuring a cast of over 100, and the largest Rawan Dahan and fireworks were highlights of the event.
Fireworks lit the sky at the second annual Diwali Festival at the Johns Creek Arts Center in Georgia. Thousands attended the outdoor celebration enjoying traditional foods, unique vendor items, and children’s activities in honor of the Indian holiday. The “festival of lights” ended with a drone light show.