Indiana’s Relationship with India

They say you can’t spell Indiana without “India.” Indiana has developed and maintained a strong relationship with India through various cultural and economic ties. In fact, in 2010, the City of Indianapolis established a sister-city relationship with Hyderabad, Telegana, India. Building on the connections between Indiana and India, Governor Holcomb established a sister-state relationship with Karnataka, India in 2017. Bridging diplomacy and economic development, this agreement was linked to the local foreign direct investment by Indian tech giant, Infosys.

India ranks third among countries of origin for foreign-born residents in Indiana, with more than 30,000 immigrants from India residing in the state. More than 1,700 students with Indian citizenship were enrolled at Indiana University in 2017, and Purdue University has the largest enrollment of Indian undergraduate students of any U.S. college or university at 933.

Indian economic, cultural, and religious groups are active in the community as well. The India Association of Indianapolis, a recipient of The International Center’s Festival Fund Grant, hosts the India Day celebration annually on Monument Circle. This event provides an opportunity for Indians to celebrate their ancestry and for Hoosiers to experience the rich culture and traditions of our neighbors.

More information on Indiana-India connections can be found here.


With a population of around 1.3 billion people, India is the world’s second most populous country and the world’s largest democracy. While the people are all classified as Indian, the country consists of many different ethnic and language groups. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India. However, there are 14 other official languages spoken throughout the country. English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is considered the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. India has one of the lowest median ages among developed countries, leading to a young and innovative workforce.


Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is the biggest festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists around the world. and commemorates different things depending on local tradition and culture.

  • In the Gregorian calendar, the Diwali festival always falls between mid-October and mid-November. (I would reverse these two bullets, going from the general to the specific.
  • As per India’s official holiday calendar, 2018’s Diwali will be on November 7th, coinciding with the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar.

What does it commemorate?

  • Hindus celebrate the triumph of good over evil – of light over darkness – to mark the return of Ram, the Lord of Virtue, to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.
  • Followers of Jainism commemorate Mahavira, a venerated ascetic who fundamentally reformed the faith, reaching a state of nirvana after his death.
  • Sikhs use Diwali to mark the anniversary of Guru Hargobind’s release from prison in 1619.
  • For Buddhists, this day represents the time Emperor Ashoka gave up everything and adopted a path of peace after going through bloodshed and death. The day is observed as Ashok Vijayadashami.

How is it celebrated?

  • Traditional earthen diyas or candles are lit, and nowadays, fireworks are set off.
  • Houses are cleaned and decorated with colorful works of art called Rangoli (patterns created on the floor using colored rice or powder).
  • Throughout India, and in Indian communities, people wear new clothes, visit friends and family, and exchange sweets and gifts. There is also a strong belief in giving to those in need.
  • A special “puja” prayer is dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi in the evening. She is said to bring good luck and prosperity.
  • Each year the India Association of Indianapolis hosts the Diwali Celebration at the Old National Center in downtown Indianapolis attended by the Indian community, local dignitaries, and Hoosiers looking to expand their cultural experiences right in their backyard.

If you would like to learn more about Indian culture with a Hoosier twist, consider registering for The International Center’s first workshop of 2018 on March 9 which will provide a half-day introduction to Indian culture and business practices. Register by clicking the button below or contacting Peter Kirkwood, protocol officer.

By Peter Kirkwood, Protocol Officer