Culture | PREMIUM CONTENT

Diwali, A Season For All Cultures

1 year ago / by Cate Reynolds

The term “festival season” holds a lot more meaning for people of the United States than you’d think. There’s the Christmases, the Thanksgivings, the Easters, the Fourth of Julys. But given the cultural melting pot we’ve become, celebratory moments and occasions from around the world, touchstones spanning generations and regions, have all been woven into the larger blanket of “culture” in the country.

Diwali wear
Bottom Left-Zuleyka Lugardo; Top Left- Hopeton Fisher Jr; Center- Ateia Ramsaroop; Top Right- Jaspreet Singh; Bottom Right- Hali Okeowo

For a country as rich in its traditions and customs and heavily memorialized occasions as India, it’s only natural that its traditions have also found themselves woven into the blanket as well, with their own little multicolored, sequined threads. Festive times like Diwali and Navratri have risen in popularity across the world, and they’ve taken flight in the United States as well. Every year, come the auspicious months, banners are hung, colors spread, sweets prepared, bright clothes brought out to display. It’s not only Indians who mark these occasions; people of all every color, religion, and origin observe these moments. As the world and its people come together during challenging times, we’ve found safety and happiness in our little traditions and festivals, along with reasons to feel there are still things to celebrate, days to look forward to. Pockets of diversity across the nation have embraced these moments as ones to cherish, and mark them in ways bigger than before.

SEEMA recognizes the importance of this festive season on many across the world, which is why we’ve partnered with creative agency The Vision Room to bring to life our own vision, of an Indian festival season of Diwali being celebrated in one of the world’s most diverse pockets. Through our spotlight of New Jersey, one of the country’s culturally richest locales, we’ve explored a visual tale of fashion, emotion, and color.

Culture is beautiful.

“In diversity, there is beauty, and there is strength.” These were the powerful words of Maya Angelou.

We witness this beauty in diversity through the myriad cultures that exist today, in a world more diverse than we can ever imagine.

We see it most easily in attire – their uniqueness seen in their multitudinous colors, the variations in weaving and cut. The little details that make the outfits – and a cultural attitude – come together. There is so much to see and appreciate.

We should take a moment occasionally to celebrate the fact that we are part of a varicolored tapestry that is global culture. Why? Because we come from all religions, races, and colors.

To really appreciate our diverse culture, we must encourage conversations and listen attentively to the stories of members of this community, and tell them our own.

Sharing a mutual understanding of our cultural backgrounds helps build acceptance. It’s all about making a conscious effort to broaden our perspective and connect more across cultures. Instead of being uncomfortable with the unknown, we ought to embrace diversity and acknowledge the rich cultural heritage of different people.

Our models, from diverse backgrounds, described the difference just clothing can make.

jaspreet singh in diwali sherwani

Jaspreet Singh

I’ve been celebrating Diwali for a majority of my life, but it felt even more special to spend it amongst people who were celebrating for the first time. The way we came together in the spirit of Diwali was very pleasant and putting on the clothes was the best part of it. I love wearing the cultural clothes, makes me feel like a prince for that moment. It felt like we all belonged to a royal family wearing those clothes, and I was glad to be part of the experience. Now I want to celebrate Diwali with more people!

Hopeton Fisher Jr.

It felt really cool. I was honored to basically be in two places in little to no time, walking in with my New York Nike attire to something so culturally sound from another part of the world, it really felt a trip. I loved it so much I’d do it again, seeing the men and women dressed so beautifully and uniquely – from the women’s saris to my sherwani. I thought I was in a room full of kings and queens, but that’s just me. I had a blast. Instagram: @Iam_Hopeton

Ateia “Tia” Ramsaroop

I have a shared culture with South Asians because I have a Caribbean background. Modeling those clothes comes naturally. I have always liked doing elaborate photo shoots, such as bridal shoots. Wearing these clothes and getting all dolled up made me see how beautiful the culture is.

Zuleyka Lugardo

Interacting with multiple cultures and traditions throughout my life made me forget about differences. It opened my eyes and heart to focus on what we really had in common and that’s beauty, intelligence, and diversity.

Wearing a sari with my gown made me feel beautiful and confident like no other piece of clothing did. It helped me throughout my self–love journey!

Saris were my way of overcoming my body image issues. They covered parts of my body that I did not like. It helped me become more confident in my skin. I love how a piece of cloth can make anything look flawless.

Hali Okeowo

I felt beautiful. I really loved all of my outfits. It was different for me, but in a good way. The colors were so vibrant and complemented me very well. It made me want to learn more about Indian culture. You see the Bollywood movies and how beautiful the girls look. That day I really felt like that.

VISION ROOM

The Vision Room is a New Jersey-based creative agency and brand-building enterprise that focuses on working and enhancing the client’s own vision. With a view to take social media branding and image-creation to the next level, their strategy is about bringing hard work and creativity to produce the most innovating and visually appealing result for the client, with a focus on aesthetics, clever marketing, and a use of space.

NESBIT DIGITAL

Nhemie Theodore, a self taught photographer who spent the first half of his life rarely leaving his neighborhood, Nesbit Terrace, is living a dream. Nhemie took his first trip to Rome with a borrowed camera and fell in love with the art form. Seven years later Nesbit Digital has grown exponentially with the passion to give his clients “the best images they’ve ever seen of themselves”.

ALMARI PRET

At Almari Pret, we’re changing the way men and women shop for Indian clothes by providing an online rental service. We want our customers to have a hassle free process and not worry about a thing by providing all the essentials you would need to get ready. For us, it’s important to provide the latest trends at a minimal cost in the fashion world that is constantly changing and evolving. With the option to rent clothes instead of purchasing them, you can just borrow, wear, and return – a fresh wardrobe awaits!