Hundreds of people streamed through Jackson Heights, Queens, to enjoy what scores of vendors offered, and the performances during the Diwali Mela Oct. 8. The good mood held despite the rain and artists performed despite inclement weather.
The event is organized by the Jackson Heights Merchants Association annually and is a big draw for Indians around the Tristate area as shopkeepers put up stalls along Roosevelt Avenue near the Jackson Heights subway station. The area is probably the oldest enclave of residents of Indian origin, and though the demographics have changed and fewer Indian-Americans live there than in the 1970s, it has remained a magnet for all things Indian, from food and clothing to electrical appliances that can work in India.
“The highlight for me was the food,” Ketana Gosalia told Desi Talk. “And even though it was a rainy day, so many people came.”
Gosalia said she enjoyed “garam, garam jalebian” the fresh sugarcane juice, and dahi bhalla.
People crowded around the stalls selling imitation jewelry and traditional Indian clothes.
Shiv Dass, president of the Jackson Heights Indian Merchants Association, told Desi Talk during last year’s Diwali Mela that the merchants organization was formed five years ago and a majority of its 250 members were of Indian origin. He was also proud of how Indian merchants built up Jackson Heights as a commercial hub during the 1970s. “It is a rich place now. It is a hub and so well-connected — 74th Street will never die!” Dass declared following the 2016 Diwali Mela. It appears to be continuing that tradition this year as well.