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A Guide to Celebrating Diwali in the District

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

As India’s “Festival of Lights” approaches from Nov. 10-14, over a billion people will celebrate Diwali with friends, family, traditional foods and fireworks globally. American University’s campus and the District offer various opportunities to partake in Diwali festivities, from restaurant freebies to cultural performances.

Jhankaar: A Celebration of Diwali

In collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, District of Raga, a DC organization for Indian classical music, and IDEA, a community of Indian dance educators, will present Jhankaar, a performance of Indian classical dance. Held on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m, the performance will feature Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Odissi styles of dance and various representations of each region of India celebrating Diwali.

Online reservations are sold out, but free tickets will be available at the Hall of States Box Office at the Kennedy Center on the performance day.


Rasika will provide a unique a la carte Diwali menu on Nov. 11 and 12. Vegetarian and meat-based dishes will be available, ranging from Makhana Kaju Kofta, based in cottage cheese and tomato sauce, to Lamb Kala Bhuna, a lamb shank paired with garam masala seasoning. All entrees will be paired with Gucchi pulao, a mushroom rice dish stemming from the Kashmir region.

Diwali of the Year

American University’s Hindu Students Association and Asian American Student Union will present their annual Diwali event on Nov. 11 in Mary Graydon Center. The event will feature free South Asian cuisine, cultural performances, a live DJ and other forms of entertainment.

Both AU and non-AU students have free admission to the Diwali celebration, which will last from 7 to 10 p.m.

Diwali Celebration at National Landing Water Park

National Landing Water Park, located in Arlington, Virginia, will host a Diwali celebration on November 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. with dance performances, a live DJ, sparklers and more. The event is hosted alongside DC Dosa, a kiosk that specializes in South Indian food, and will feature a performance from Kalanidhi Dance Company. 

The Diwali event is free to attend and open to the public. Beyond these Diwali-specific features, National Landing Water Park, which reopened in October after renovations, provides an outdoor food hall with 11 different vendors.

Diwali In the Park

The third annual Diwali In the Park celebration, held in the Hardy Recreation Center on Nov.11, will feature dancing, music, Indian appetizers, and chai. Jeannie Baumann of Doonya Bollywood Dance and Fitness will present a Bollywood dance lesson and attendees will have the opportunity to make various crafts, including diyas – small oil lamps traditionally lit during Diwali.

Admission to the event, held at 1:30 p.m., is free, and those interested may reserve a spot through Eventbrite. Attendees are encouraged to dress in traditional South Asian attire.

Shreya Jyotishi

American '26

Shreya is a freshman at American University majoring in CLEG (Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government). She is originally from Westfield, New Jersey where she wrote and edited for her high school magazine and led a Girls Learn International chapter. She is passionate about feminism and LGBTQ+ rights and loves to expand her crystal collection, make Spotify playlists, and explore DC.