Moving abroad has its pros and cons. One thing every Indian misses is the festive vibe that comes with numerous festivals celebrated back home, especially when you see social media posts of your family and friends enjoying this special time. Once the festive season starts it’s almost like there is a festival every other day with vibrant colors, lip-smacking food, and general warmth all around.
Moving abroad doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Indians are known for taking their culture and festivals wherever they go. With the US having 4 million+ Indian expats, almost all Indian festivals are celebrated and organized at scale by various Indian cultural associations and groups. The splendor of these celebrations is easily comparable with those back in India.
If you have recently moved to the US, you should look for local Indian communities on social media and keep track of any upcoming festive events. Here is a list of upcoming Indian festivals to add to your calendars.
- Navratri (17 October to 26 October, 2020)
Navratri is one festival that is celebrated gloriously by a vibrant Indo-American population. This festival is as much about celebrating spirituality and religious connection as it is about celebrating through song, music and dance. Song and dance is the most popular part of the festival in the U.S. as it sees the participation of people from all ages. Current social distancing measures mean that many of the regular Navratri events have been cancelled this year, however at a time when everything is now virtual, so are some of these festivals. Here are a few links for upcoming Virtual Navratri Puja celebrations: Shakti Sadhna- Navratri, Navratri Puja Fall 2020
- Durga Puja (22 October to 26 October, 2020)
Durga Puja, marks the triumph of good over evil. In the US, as in India, Durga Puja pandals are set up by various Indian associations, where daily prayers, cultural events, performances by famous artists etc are organized. Durga Puja is also famous for the authentic Bengali bhog and food stalls that are a gastronomical delight. The fun part of Puja is pandal hopping, but that’s not possible this year, however if you are looking to book an online Puja and Prasad, just visit pashchimi.org
- Dussehra (26 October, 2020)
Dussehra also known as Vijay Dashmi is celebrated one day after Navratri. According to Ramayana, on this day lord Rama had defeated Ravana and rescued his wife Goddess Sita. In north and central parts of India, Dussehra is celebrated with fairs, where Ramleela is held and effigies of Ravana are set on fire to denote Lord Rama’s victory.
- Karva Chauth (4 November, 2020)
Karva Chauth is mainly celebrated in Northern India where married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for their husband’s long life. Most women start their day by eating sargi before sunrise. Sargi generally includes fruits, indian sweets, mathri and dry fruits. In the evening, the women dress up in traditional Indian attire and gather for the evening puja and narration of the Karva Chauth story. Finally, they break their fast with water after offering prayers to the moon followed by a sumptuous dinner. If you want to know more about Karva Chauth celebrations in your area, an easy way would be to just check with the local temple in your area.
- Dhanteras (13 November, 2020)
Dhanteras marks the start of Diwali celebrations. On this day people offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi — the Goddess of wealth and Lord Kuber — the God of treasure. It is considered an auspicious day to buy precious metals like gold and silver as well as steel utensils.
- Diwali (14 November, 2020)
Diwali is the biggest Indian festival, both in India and across countries with a large Indian diaspora like the US.
In the US, grand Diwali celebrations are organized at Times Square in New York City called Diwali at Times Square. It features concerts by Bollywood stars and singers along with a Diwali and swadeshi bazaar. For other virtual Diwali celebrations, you may want to check Diwali SA in San Antonio which is happening as an all-day virtual festival this year.
- Bhai Dooj (16 November, 2020)
Bhai Dooj celebrates the eternal bond between a sister and brother. On this day, the sister applies tilak on her brother’s forehead and prays for his long, healthy and prosperous life. In return the brother promises to take care and protect his sister.
- Gurpurab (30 November, 2020)
Gurpurab celebrates the birth of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. It is the most important festival for Sikhs world over. Celebrations start 2 days prior with Akhand Path, 48 hours non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. One day prior, a street procession called Nagar Kirtan is held that is led by Panj Pyare (five beloved ones) holding the Sikh flag, Nishan Sahib and the Palki of Guru Granth Sahib. On the day of Gurpurab, hymns are sung early in the morning, followed by Katha and Kirtan. A special Langar or feast is organized in every Gurdwara on this special day.
The US has a significant population of Sikhs and over 250 Gurudwaras. The biggest Gurudwara in the US is the Sikh Gurudwara in San Jose, California. On Gurpurab you can visit any Gurudwara close to your place to offer your prayers.
We have tried to make this an exhaustive festival list of the many festivals Indian’s celebrate, but we might have missed a few . If you would like to see a festival added to this list, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even though this year’s festivities are on a smaller scale or moved to an online platform, the essence of all festivals and celebrations remains the same. So get your ethnic attire out of the closet and make way for some festive fun.If you are not sure where to get your Festive supplies or you want to avoid going to a store personally, we have put together a list that you might be interested in — Top 10 popular online Indian food grocers in the US
As part of the celebrations, we immigrants love to surprise our family and friends back home by sending gifts. With the Rayo App launching soon, customers will have the ability to send money back to India and make the festivities even sweeter for their loved ones.
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