Diwali Celebrates Light over Darkness
Vasudha Narayanan was browsing in a Walgreen's in Gainesville, Fla., last year when she saw something she'd never seen before in an American drugstore--greeting cards for the holiday Diwali.
"I was so happy," said Narayanan, who was born in India. "It was like a piece of home almost. It was a real symbol of being part of the American fabric."
The card display was an effort to market products associated with Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and fell on Oct. 21 this year.
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a festive time in India, and American companies are just beginning to recognize the significance of this holiday to the estimated 2 million South Asians living in the United States.
"Overall, there's no question that U.S. companies are aggressively trying to use Diwali as a way to reach and connect with South Asians," said Rajan Shah, president of the marketing think tank Phenomenon and cofounder of the Association of South Asians in Media and Marketing.
Within the United States, Diwali is generally not well-known. As corporations discover Diwali, Shah said, they need to be sensitive to the religious aspects of the holiday or risk alienating the consumers they seek. …