ST. PETERSBURG — Although preparations for Diwali festival among Indians living in St. Petersburg seem in full swing, some Indians say they will miss a lot this year due to a variety of reasons in which they find themselves completely helpless.
"A lot could have been better had I got my driving license from the authorities, I could have visited my relatives outside Florida, visit different temples with my family and could have plenty of fun, but I will miss of all of this" said Jagdev Singh, a 53-year-old restaurant owner who lives in St. Petersburg.
The five-day celebration of Diwali, a major Hindu festival celebrated every year in India and other parts of the world, starts on Sunday.
Singh, who has been living in the United States since 1990, said for the last 22 years, he has typically used the occasion to visit relatives and see religious places. However, because his drivers license is suspended, he has few options.
"There should be some way out for me and thousands of Indians taxpayers like me who are facing the same problems, unless I don't get the license or ID, traveling is not possible for me and I have missed a lot of joy this year" Singh said.
Singh said he will take his family to the Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa, where a major gathering is expected to take place.
Arsh Deep Kaur, a 21-year-old originally from Ludhiana, India, said this will be her first Diwali celebration away from her native country.
"It seems strange but true that I am away from my family, I will miss my friends, we have lot of fun in form of shopping, greetings, fireworks, sweets and a lot more which I am going to miss for the first time in my life" said Kaur, who is in St. Petersburg with her 20-year-old brother Aman Singh.
Vikas Rapol, who is from Hyderabad in South India, said that while this is his seventh Diwali away from home, he would still miss his family.
Celebrating Diwali with family is entirely a different experience, but the price of airfare makes venturing home difficult, Rapol said.
Diwali, known as the "festival of lights," is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated worldwide where Hindus, Sikhs and Indian communities reside.
Celebrations in the United States are not as prominent as they are in India, where cities are flooded with fireworks.
Faizan Bangash is a reporter for the News International in Lahore, Pakistan, and part of the International Center For Journalist's U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism program.