Diwali Coast to Coast: 5 Best Places to Celebrate the Festival of Lights in the US
Originating from India, Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. Diwali occurs on the darkest day of the lunar month, which is the day of the new moon so it can occur anytime from mid October to mid November. Rooted in spiritual traditions, it symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
During this five day celebration, homes are illuminated with clay lamps known as “diyas,” fireworks paint the skies, and families come together to share festive meals and exchange gifts. In fact, Diwali celebrations are marked by an array of delicious dishes ranging from savory snacks like samosas and chakli to sweet treats such as gulab jamun and Jalebi. Clearly, this festival brings forth a rich culinary experience, with each dish reflecting the vibrant cultural heritage of India.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the history behind, let’s dive right in and discover the best places to immerse yourself in this wonderful tradition.
5 Best Places to Celebrate Diwali in the U.S.
Edison, New Jersey
Known to many as the unofficial “Little India” of the East Coast, Edison truly comes alive during Diwali. With its array of Indian stores and restaurants, Edison offers an authentic taste of Diwali right in the heart of New Jersey.
While there, take a stroll along Oak Tree Road, where you will find it buzzing with festive energy, traditional music, and the aroma of Indian delicacies. Yum!
Now to truly experience the Diwali capital in the US, we highly recommend you attend any music concerts, arts and crafts fairs, or community dinners because after all, this tradition is rooted in rejoicing with a community. Oh and be prepared to either dance or sing because there’s bound to be an impromptu dance-off!If you can’t make it to Edison, don’t worry, New Jersey has so much to offer!
Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, Fremont is a vibrant blend of tech innovation and cultural diversity. Home to a substantial Indian population, the city transforms into a dazzling display of lights, colors, and festivities during Diwali. From the sound of temple bells to lively street fairs, Fremont encapsulates the spirit of the Festival of Lights thousands of miles away from India.
While there stop by for the Fremont Temple Celebrations. The Shiva-Vishnu Temple in Livermore and the Fremont Hindu Temple are great places to witness traditional ceremonies. What is a celebration without a street fair? Experience henna artistry, traditional dance performances, and indulge in Indian sweets and snacks.And once you’re done with those festivities make a pit stop and visit San Francisco because you might as well, right?
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and Diwali celebrations are no exception! And Houston welcomes the festival with a Texas-sized enthusiasm. Meaning you are bound to have a once in a lifetime experience!
While there, make sure you visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. A beautiful traditional temple where you can experience aarti ceremonies and enjoy a scrumptious vegetarian meal. This well known temple stands as a testament to the city’s embrace of Indian culture, and during Diwali, the temple, along with the city, lights up in a grand display of unity and celebration.
And of course, save your seat to enjoy firework displays which are in line with the Diwali tradition, witness some of the most spectacular fireworks in the heart of Texas while munching on some Indian goodies. Ah, this is the life!Of course, the celebration doesn’t stop, there are a lot more activities to do in Houston that are calling your name.
Welcome to the Windy City! Known for its architectural marvels and diverse population, Chicago becomes even more breathtaking during the Diwali season. So while there, plan on attending the Navy Pier Diwali Festival.
The festival offers a mix of traditional and modern celebrations, with dance performances, Indian craft exhibitions, and a grand firework show over Lake Michigan. Talk about experiencing something new amidst the city’s iconic skyline. Ooof!
As always, visit local temples like The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago for their Diwali ceremonies. And once you’re done with that and your heart and tummy are full, take a look at more things you can do in Chicago.
Flushing, New York
In the bustling borough of Queens, Flushing stands out as a melting pot of cultures, and during Diwali, the Indian community’s vibrancy shines brightest. The renowned Ganesh Temple not only serves as a spiritual epicenter but also as a hub for cultural activities. And just like all of the cities mentioned previously, Flushing’s streets come alive with community gatherings, music, and dance, making it a unique spot to witness Diwali in the Big Apple.
If you’re unfamiliar with Indian traditions but would still like to join in the festivities, it’s vital to approach Diwali with an open heart and mind. Here are a few tips:
- Educate Yourself: Read up on the significance of the rituals and practices (which if you already have at the beginning of this article!). Know the history, be respectful of traditions and always be curious and non argumental.
- Dress Appropriately: While traditional Indian attire like sarees and kurta-pajamas can be worn, it’s essential to ensure they’re worn respectfully. What does this mean? Wear items as they are intended to be worn and during appropriate holidays. If you are thinking of wearing traditional Indian clothing make sure you ask the shop owner how best to style it.
- Ask Questions: Wherever you decide to celebrate, engage with the local community. Learn about the personal connection people share with the holiday and listen in for lessons about the culture and life.
Experiencing Diwali in the US can be a beautiful showcase of traditional practices and modern influences. While it’s an Indian festival at heart, its universal message of hope, joy, and the triumph of goodness resonates with everyone. So whether you’re a college student seeking a new experience or just curious about the festivities, these places offer an unforgettable Diwali celebration that will welcome you with open arms.
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