Once a year, the city of Amstelveen, at Amsterdam’s southern end, plays host to a true spectacle. The Diwali Festival, the ancient Hindu festival of lights, has been celebrated here for seven years. In 2016, the festivities will take place on Saturday, 22 October, and are being organised by the City of Amstelveen, amsterdam inbusiness and various private parties. About 18,000 visitors are expected to join the celebrations.
Around 8,000 Indian expats live in the Amsterdam area, so it’s not surprising that a Diwali Festival of such a scale exists. Many of these expats come as highly skilled migrants, working for Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel, Infosys, Sun Pharma or one of the many other large Indian companies that have established offices or factories in the region. All in all, there are 90 Indian companies in the Amsterdam area, and 180 in the Netherlands in total.
As a result, the Netherlands is home to the second-largest Indian community in mainland Europe, comprised of roughly 215,000 people. The highest number of highly skilled migrants to take advantage of Expatcenter Amsterdam’s services are from India − in 2015 alone, 2,800 came from India to the Amsterdam Area – and there is much in the region to make the Indian community feel at home. For instance, there are seven international schools and various secondary schools that offer a bilingual education, the Amstelland Hospital provides a dedicated India Desk for health advice, and there are various dedicated non-profit organisations, such as the Netherlands India Chamber of Commerce & Trade and the Netherlands-India Association. On 31 May 2016, Indian-Dutch relations will be emphasised once more at the Netherlands India Business Meet, a countrywide congress for bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
Perhaps most importantly for some, 25 June will see the return of the annual India Cricket Day at the VRA Cricket Club in the city’s forest, the Amsterdamse Bos, with 16 teams from Indian companies in the Amsterdam area competing. The day is concluded with a casual networking event hosted by the Indian Ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency J.S. Mukul. Both bitterballen and samosas will be served: a true meeting of cultures. May the best snack (and team) win.