Light up the world from Diwali to Christmas

The universal message of India’s biggest festival is truly catching on abroad


The US politicians Bobby Jindal and now Nikki Haley, both of whom converted to Christianity to become more acceptably “mainstream” in the 1980s and 1990s respectively, are extreme examples of the extent to which migrant Indians in the 20th century strove to integrate. Most Indians, however, kept their faith while anglicising their names and mannerisms so as to fit in. Food was practically the only marker of their ethnicity that survived this acculturation. But something has changed in the 21st century. Diwali, Holi and many other festivals have spilled out of exclusively Indian circles to become universal celebrations.

On the journey home from Kolkata Airport this week it was impossible to miss the Diwali and Kali Pujo decorations that lined the main boulevards into the city. Not only the platforms that held images of the great patron goddess of Kolkata but the walkways to them were all lit up with the intricate twinkling patterns of colourful illuminations that are the speciality of the town of Chandannagore. London’s Christmas lights cannot hold a candle to


ET Bureau





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William Murphy

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