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Indian Holiday Diwali Lights Up America, Too

2017-09-30

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  • More and more people in America are celebrating the Indian holiday Diwali.
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  • Diwali is Hindi for “row of lights.”
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  • It is the most important holiday in India.
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  • Although it began as a Hindu observance, almost everyone in the country celebrates the Festival of Lights.
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  • Many people around the world are beginning to as well.
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  • The United States is one of the places where the festival is becoming more common.
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  • Diwali celebrations can now be found at American landmarks like Disneyland in California and New York City’s Times Square.
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  • They are also held in many parks and museums.
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  • Neeta Bhasin established the Times Square event.
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  • She said Indian immigrants have found great success in America.
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  • But, she said, many Americans still do not know much about India.
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  • So, she decided to act.
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  • “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,” she said.
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  • “And I couldn’t find a better place than the center of the universe: Times Square.”
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  • Bhasin came to the United States from India 40 years ago.
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  • She is president of ASB Communications, the marketing firm behind Diwali at Times Square.
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  • Tens of thousands of people attend the event, now in its fourth year.
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  • The 2017 celebration takes place October 7.
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  • There will be dance performances, Bollywood singers, a marketplace for Indian food and goods, and, of course, a lighting ceremony.
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  • In India, Diwali is a five-day harvest festival held just before the Hindu New Year.
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  • The exact dates change from year to year but Diwali is always in the fall.
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  • Celebrations include lighting oil lamps or candles called diyas.
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  • The lights represent, in Bhasin’s words, “a victory of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness, good over evil.”
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  • A Diwali celebration will light up Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim this year.
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  • Visitors can watch performances of traditional Indian dances and take part in a Bollywood dance party.
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  • The event is part of a Festival of Holidays program at the theme park to show cultural traditions from around the world.
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  • The program takes place November 10th through January 7th.
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  • San Antonio, Texas, also holds a Diwali celebration.
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  • And it is one of the nation’s largest, with more than 15,000 people in attendance each year.
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  • The 2017 festival takes place November 4 at La Villita, a historic arts village.
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  • It will be the city’s ninth Diwali celebration. Visitors can enjoy Indian dance, food, and fireworks.
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  • Organizers also plan to float hundreds of lighted candles in the San Antonio River, along the city’s famous River Walk.
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  • I’m Caty Weaver.
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