The Peculiar Spectacular of Kumar & Co.

Aug 21, 2014

Dipak Pallana on untold tales of a guru, father, friend and more by Santhosh Daniel The story of Kumar Pallana has no standard measure.  It is simultaneously long and short, unusual and cliché, comic and soulful.  And for most people, it defies all convention and simply slips through the fingers. For example, if you were […]


May 11, 2014

by Priya Chhaya If there is something I love more than telling (hi)stories, it is listening to them. As I’ve learned over the years there is never just one beginning, one middle, or one end–our histories are an endless ribbon of time with knots, frayed edges, and snags that shift with time. When I walked […]

Culturally Appropriate or Cultural Appropriation? A Few Thoughts

Sep 30, 2013
Culturally Appropriate or Cultural Appropriation?  A Few Thoughts

by Priya Chhaya In early April, pop star Selena Gomez incited media buzz when she appeared in public wearing a bindi. She is not the first celebrity to wear something Indian, but I have to ask: Should I feel offended that someone has chosen to appropriate a piece of Indian cultural identity for entertainment? Or […]

Diwali in the U.S.

Nov 13, 2012

Happy Diwali from the Indian American Heritage Project! Diwali is an auspicious and vibrant holiday for Indian Americans, marking the New Year and reminding us of the philosophical triumph of light over darkness. Here is a selection of images commemorating Diwali in the US. Some will be featured in our upcoming exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian […]

My Silver Gods Come to America

Mar 20, 2012

We are excited to announce that Lavina Melwani is a new blogger for the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project. By Lavina Melwani For many Indians living in America, India is the talisman, the sacred thread around their wrists, which connects them to the past and their changing tomorrows. Visit any Indian American family and there […]

The Salad Bowl

Mar 12, 2012

HomeSpun is proud to offer another guest blog, this time from the Bay Area. Shefali Razdan Duggal is a highly recognized member of the Indian American and broader American political landscape. Here, she shares personal thoughts on the potential within the South Asian American community. by Shefali Razdan Duggal As I have progressed in years […]

Happy Diwali!

Nov 2, 2011

Above: Diwali celebrations at the Mandir (Hindu temple) in Missouri City, Texas. Photo by Amyn Kassam (Flickr). Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated by more than 2 million American Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs on October 26, 2011.  It’s observed on the last day of the lunar calendar to celebrate the beginning of a new […]

Culture Sampling: South Asian Hip-Hop Concert Celebrates Desi Artists

Oct 18, 2011

by Aditya Desai The District’s cultural nerve center in the U Street corridor was host to a South Asian hip-hop concert last month, showcasing performances by Indian American MCs, rappers, beat-boxers, and dancers. The concert, dubbed Drift Elemental and hosted by local South Asian arts organization Subcontinental Drift, drew a heavy crowd on Friday, both […]

You Can Take It With You

Sep 9, 2011
You Can Take It With You

by Priya Chhaya Moving. A room once full of books, electronics, posters, and photographs now bare. Each item packed away into cardboard boxes that all look the same. Boxes, filled with nearly everything you own in two cars. Moving Out. Two words that mean so much more than just the act of packing up your […]

“Sim Sim Salabim!” Insight into Indian Mysticism

Aug 4, 2011

by Ted Young (Summer 2011 intern) If I relied on nothing else other than popular culture to inform me about Indians and Indian Americans I would think that they all have mystical powers somehow related to their religious beliefs… Oh yeah, also they love to dance. Until this summer, when I started doing research for […]

Preserving the Past in India and the United States

Jul 25, 2011
Preserving the Past in India and the United States

by Priya Chhaya My day job (when I’m not thinking about blog posts for HomeSpun) is working as an employee for the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). We’re a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect the places that matter to all Americans—through advocacy work, education, and community development. Most recently we released […]

Come As You Are: Maximum India

Mar 24, 2011

by Priya Chhaya Suspended from the ceiling A map filled with arts Culture Symbols Dancing over a wheel, a chakra Calling for virtue from the people. And at the crowded, energetic stage Sounds of Rajasthan flow into the melody of the violin Embrace the dance styling of Punjabi rhythm Din. Dinaka. Din Din. Dinaka. Din […]

One Country, Different Cultures

Mar 7, 2011

by Priya Chhaya Everyone always tells you how complicated planning a wedding is, but I never actually understood until I found myself knee deep in working on address labels for invitations, multiple tastings for Indian food (not necessarily a bad thing) and trying to figure out what to say during my sister-of-the-bride speech. Then there’s […]

…And that’s the Beauty of the Open Mic

Jan 14, 2011

by Priya Chhaya It is a chilly Monday evening and I step inside a room on the second floor of a building along U Street in Washington, DC.  I am, as usual, casually late, thirty minutes to be specific which is really on time, if you think about Indian Standard Time (IST). As I walk […]

Indian Americans and Diversity

Dec 13, 2010

by Xiang Siow Guest post by former Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program intern Xiang Siow. He just finished studying abroad in India through the University of Chicago. It’s hard to believe how quickly my time in India passed.  Between classes, organized field trips to historical sites, traveling on my own, and actually living in a […]

An (Asian) American in India

Oct 29, 2010

by Xiang Siow Guest post by former Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program intern Xiang Siow. He is currently studying abroad in India through the University of Chicago. Greetings from India! I’ve only been here for a short while but I’m already feeling quite at home and getting back into the school routine. I’m keeping busy […]

Happy Navratri 2010

Oct 15, 2010

by Aditya Desai As of last Friday, it is officially Navratri 2010, the Indian festival of nine nights. It is the auspicious time marking the start of the autumn season, when Hindus worship to the goddess Devi for good tidings over the coming season. The holiday is most prominently celebrated by Garba-Raas dances, where participants […]

“American Hindu”

Jun 29, 2010

by Aditya Desai My weekly temple trip usually takes place around the time the youth group finishes its classes and prayers. I never cared to participate while growing up, partially not being too religious and partially considering it somehow “against” a typical American childhood. One week, a mishmash circle of teens, aunties, uncles, and young […]

Fair or dark, Indians are still lovely

Sep 21, 2009

by hithapalepu My mother spent most of the summer in India.  Upon picking her up at the airport and receiving a much-needed hug, she exclaims “You’re so dark!” I spent one weekend outdoors the entire summer.  My skin was one, maybe two shades darker.  And after six weeks away, minutes after reuniting with her, I […]

A country of contrasts

Sep 14, 2009

by Avani Nadkarni It’s almost like a rite of passage for any Indian-American born to immigrant parents: the trip back to the subcontinent. I have gone “back” to India approximately every four years since I was four years old, taking the 24-hour journey from Seattle directly across the world to Mumbai. When I was younger, […]