No matter how far from the roots, the Indian diaspora always carry a bounty of Indian traditions with them wherever they go. And, over the decades, Indian festivals and rituals have found a place in various foreign locales as well.
Even though the Indian diaspora is a thorough blend of descendants, there is one thing that unites them all – Indian festivals and traditions, which the Indian families residing in various nations never cease to take along.
“I try to keep my daughter and grandchildren connected with our Indian roots. My grandchildren were born here in the US itself, so, I make sure that we celebrate Indian festivals with a lot of enthusiasm so that the children know about Raksha Bandhan and Diwali, which are important to our traditions,” says Swadesh Bhalla, a resident of Maryland, US.
Over the years, Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi, Raksha Bandhan and Dussehra, among many others, have evolved to become important celebrations in many regions where the Indian population emigrated to over the years, and are now present in a big way in Africa, North America, Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia.
The importance of celebrating these festivals is much more for the Indians settled abroad, away from their country and at times, they are more eager to observe them, compared to the people in India.
“We celebrate every Indian festival grandly. This way, we do not feel too distant from India,” says Rajesh Bali, a resident of Melbourne, Australia.
“We wait for these festivals to arrive. They are all so vibrant and fun,” adds his daughter, Isha Bali, who moved to Australia as a 2-year-old toddler.
These festivals are, however, not only a fashion of having fun, but, along with the adults, next generation diaspora also understands the values and relevance of celebrating them.
“People might think that, being born and brought up overseas, I would know nothing about India and its culture; in fact, it comes as a surprise to many that I know the story behind why we celebrate Diwali or Dussehra,” exclaims Aakash Sethi, a 16-year-old Punjabi boy, born and brought up in Paris, France.
“I was surprised to see how people here celebrated Holi just like the way we do in India. I did not feel that I was away from home. Our neighbours called my roommate and me for holika dahan and the next day to play with colours,” says Barkha Gulati, who moved to Canada from India last year, to complete her studies.
One of the reasons why young Indians residing overseas are familiar with India and its facets are their parents who prefer to keep their kids attached to their roots. “Both my children have been celebrating all the Indian festivals since they were born and every year, we go to India, especially, for Raksha Bandhan to celebrate it with our extended family,” says Manju Sethi, who moved to Paris, 28 years ago.
“We didn’t celebrate Holi in a very grand way, but, had a small get together with fellow Indian families over lunch. And, of course, exchanged sweets and wishes,” she adds.
Not only these, but, the Indian diaspora in countries like Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji and Pakistan, among many others, celebrate Indian festivals majestically and even the locals there have accepted the Indian community and their celebrations wholeheartedly.
“Often our neighbours also join us as they are amused with our traditions and especially, the style with which we carry out our poojas (worship). We were amazed how people here joined us to celebrate Holi this year. However, there are some who are a little apprehensive about people from other origins living in their country; but, then exceptions prove the law,” expresses an Indian-origin person living in Calgary.