The Federation of Indian Associations, the largest nonprofit umbrella organization in the tristate area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, marked Diwali by illuminating the iconic Empire State Building in New York Nov. 13.

The annual event, which began in 2018, is organized in cooperation with the Empire State Realty Trust. Each year for the past two decades, ESRT and FIA have been lighting up the Empire State Building in August in the colors of the Indian tricolor – orange, white and green – to mark India’s Independence Day.

The FIA believes that such gestures by ESRT help in spreading the ancient Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) and also demonstrates a great harmony in spirit and deeds between people of the world’s largest and oldest democracies, the organization stated in a press release.

Despite the challenges and changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, FIA has not deterred from its goal of serving the community, it said.

Although this year – the FIA’s golden jubilee year – went by without the flagship India Day parade, the organization continued with its philanthropic efforts, serving more than 10,000 meals to the community, both in the tristate area and in India.

The FIA launched its very first “Diwali Soup Kitchen – Spreading Lights of Happiness” from Oct. 21 through Nov. 7. The initiative is a complimentary meal provision to recognized soup kitchens in the tristate area who serve meals to those in need.

Over 4,000 meals prepared in commercial and certified facilities were delivered at seven accredited soup kitchen locations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, noted the press release.

Similar food drives were held in various cities of Gujarat, India. In Ahmedabad, the FIA distributed 2,000 meals in the slum area, while in Vadodara, FIA committee member Rohit Korat and his team provided more than 1,000 meals to poor kids in association with the FIA’s local partner, Sai Seva Charitable Foundation.

The organization also provided over 3,000 meals to frontline heroes in New York and New Jersey, and emergency travel and accommodation facilities in association with the Consulate General of India in New York and Air India for seniors impacted by Covid.

The Covid-19 pandemic has overshadowed all celebrations, festivals and holidays, but it did not deter Indian Americans in Sacramento, Calif., from celebrating the festival of lights with a parade of cars decked out in LED lights.

Over 100 Indian Americans gathered Nov. 8 in Roseville, Calif., to celebrate Diwali in quarantine style. Presented by the Sacramento chapter of Sewa, the free event saw families – dressed in traditional Indian clothes – waving, cheering, showcasing their cars decorated with lights.

Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance,” stated a press release.

“Despite the 100-year record extreme cold weather, local Indian Americans came from Sacramento suburban cities, including Elk Grove, Folsom, Orangevale, Rancho, Rocklin, and Roseville, with their vehicles decorated so well and contributed to lifting the spirit of the local community.”

On this occasion, which also served as a food drive, Sewa received more than 50 pounds of canned food which it donated to a local food bank.

Meanwhile, in the San Francisco East Bay city of San Ramon, California, City Center Bishop Ranch organized Diwali celebrations Nov. 12-14 with rangoli artists, food by Curry Up Now, and the screening of Bollywood films.

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