How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Photos: Diwali in Southern California, from Artesia to Pasadena

Diwali

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Statues of Krishna, Ganesha and other deities adorn the altar at the Pasadena Hindu Temple.

Diwali

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The Swami of the Pasadena Hindu Temple leads prayers on the first night of Diwali.

Diwali

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The Swami of the Pasadena Hindu Temple paints a bindi on Siddhi Natarajan's forehead.

Diwali

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Vandana Natarajan clasps her daughter's hands during a Diwali celebration at the Pasadena Hindu Temple.

Diwali

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

One of several businesses adorned for Diwali on Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia, Calif., along the commercial strip known as Little India. Nov. 13, 2012

Diwali

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

There are Thanksgiving sales, there are Christmas sales - and there are Diwali sales, too.

Diwali

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

An American flag banner fluttered in the wind outside Surati Cash & Carry, one of several grocery stores on Pioneer Boulevard advertising items on sale for the holiday.

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A vendor on Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia adjusts some of the wares for sale at a parking lot kiosk that was selling Diwali decorations, greeting cards, and the traditional candles and lamps known as "diyas."


Last night marked the most important night of Diwali, also known as Deepavali, a holiday with roots in India that is celebrated in much of South Asia, as well as in the United States.

One of the most important holidays for Hindus, Sikhs and others, it's known as the “Festival of Lights.”  Families light candles and oil lamps called diyas to honor the legend of the Hindu god Rama, who returned after years of exile to his kingdom after slaying Ravana, a demon king. The holiday represents the triumph of light over darkness, or good over evil, and adherents give thanks for both their inner and outer wealth.

Yesterday, KPCC photographer Mae Ryan and I visited a couple of places where different facets of Diwali took shape. I visited busy Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia, where stores advertised Diwali sales and Indian American merchants, some in parking-lot kiosks set up just for the holiday, spent the afternoon selling painted diyas, multicolored sand to make intricate rangoli floor designs, greeting cards, silk flower garlands and other Diwali decorations to crowds of customers, all in a hurry to get home and celebrate with their families.

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