Indians migrating to the US invariably bring their love for Indian food and festive Indian celebrations. Diwali is the perfect occasion to indulge in both. Every year nonresident Indians light up some of the best known American cityscapes with a spectacular display of colors. However 2020 is no typical year. With Diwali just round the corner many NRIs are still wondering how it would be Diwali 2020 in US, in the midst of many restrictions and limitations. Here are some ideas.
A formidable community
NRIs are the second largest foreign community in the US. The American Community Survey conducted by Pew Research Center concluded that 6% of all foreign nationals residing in the US are from India. They are closely matched by the Chinese (also 6%) and exceeded only by migrants from Mexico (25%). According to the 2018 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics published by the Office of Immigration Statistics, a sub-bureau of the US Department of Homeland Security, NRIs in the country numbered 4,402,362. As many as 129,000 Indians migrate to the US and 184,902 NRIs seek permanent residence in the country annually. With 528,120 NRIs California is home to the largest Indian population in the US. This is followed by New York (313,620), New Jersey (292,256), Texas (245,981), and Illinois (188,328). When so many Indians come together for the festivities, the celebrations start to resemble carnivals.
Annual Diwali celebrations
Diwali isn’t a national holiday in the US like it is back in India. Yet Diwali 2020 in US, Americans seem to have embraced the its rituals. South Street Sea Port in Manhattan, New York witnesses the largest Diwali Carnival. Times Square is another venue in New York which hosts Diwali celebrations with a day-long event called Diwali at Times Square. These are big draws for NRI families. The events feature live performances and Bollywood dance parties. For NRIs in Texas, Fort Worth in Dallas is a popular spot. Diwali celebrations at Disney Adventure Park in California are also a familiar sight. Even the White House indulges in Diwali festivities every year, with a gathering of some of the most prominent figures from the US NRI community.
Diwali festivities in 2020 will start from November 12 and go on for 5 days. However the celebrations this year will be subdued owing to the effects of COVID-19. Organizers are wary of large gatherings. All major communal Diwali celebrations stand cancelled. Some events including the ‘Diwali at Times Square’ might go ‘virtual’. There won’t be any grand dance parties to attend, nor reveling in the display of large scale fireworks. Most NRIs plan to celebrate Diwali in the comfort of their homes. Many of them will shift their focus to relishing the many traditional Indian delicacies and desserts.
Bringing the celebrations home
Celebrating Diwali 2020 in US at home can be the perfect way to spread positivity in these uncertain times. NRIs are not leaving anything to chance. They will light up their homes with scores of diyas (small earthen lamps) and color their driveways with rangoli (floor art made from colored sand). Food will be the highlight of the evening. Even the calorie-conscious will check their inhibitions at the door for the five days of festivities.
Diwali is also traditionally a time for Indians to shop. Many NRIs have planned online shopping sprees to pamper themselves and their loved ones. Since shopping is such an important component, NRI’s often send money to India to their families in larger amounts in advance of Diwali. This year Ria Money Transfer has launched a special Diwali promotion. Ria will add another $10 to your first money transfer to India, so your loved ones get more. Use promo code: DIWALI.
A virtual gathering
If the Times Square and Disney Adventure Park celebrations decide to go the virtual route, NRIs will be able to attend these events via video conferencing apps. While these cannot replace the experience of being at a real party, NRIs will still be able enjoy performances and cultural shows. Vast numbers of NRIs will also go live with video celebrations on social networks and reconnect with their friends and family back home.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.