October 22, 2014

Diwali, Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated by more than just Hindus

(Photo by Praveen Bajpai/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

This week marks Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. In India and elsewhere, the joyous holiday – a major event that coincides with the new year on some calendars – is often marked by gifts of dried fruit and nuts and the lighting of fireworks, lamps and other lights.

In the U.S., seven-in-ten Indian Americans say they celebrate Diwali, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey of Asian Americans. This includes most Indian-American Hindus (95%) and nearly half of those who are not Hindus (45%).

That survey found that about half of Indian Americans (51%) identify as Hindus, while 5% identify as Sikhs and 2% as Jains (two other religious groups that also observe Diwali). Most of the rest are Christians (18%), Muslims (10%) or people unaffiliated with any religion (10%).

Religious affiliation of Indian AmericansHinduism has a strong cultural influence in India, where Hindus make up about 80% of the population. In India, many people who are not Hindus celebrate Diwali, much as many non-Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas.

Topics: Hindus and Hinduism, Religion and Society

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Nakul Gote2 years ago

    Good to know, but not surprising. In India, everyone celebrates Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Baisakhi, Navroz, etc. Here in Germany, I celebrated Diwali last week with a Muslim.

  2. D Kumar2 years ago

    Many School districts observed Diwali Holiday in NJ and PA.

  3. SS2 years ago

    See what Willowcreek Church is doing … Diwali celebration with Asian Indians in Chciagoland.

  4. Asim sah2 years ago

    Heart warming.