"If you have family or friends in India, we hope you
will share the Popular Pittsburgh website with them.
If your business has employees in India, we believe
our website is a great way for them to learn about our
town and what makes Pittsburgh popular." - Tom
Indian Community at Home in Pittsburgh
As everyone knows, Christopher Columbus sailed from
Spain in 1492 in
of a passage to India. Instead, he found the Americas.
More than 500 years later we have a slightly different
scenario. Many Indians are leaving the subcontinent and
The Pittsburgh area in the past has experienced waves
of immigration; many came to the region seeking a better
future in America than the life their European homelands
offered. Today, immigrants are still coming to
Pittsburgh, but the greatest concentration is not coming
from Europe. According to The U. S. State Department,
only Mexico sends more immigrants to the states than
The 1970 U.S. Census counted 51,000 Indian immigrants
in the United States. By 2006, that number had
increased to 1.5 million. Half of all Indians in the
U.S. live in five states: California, New Jersey, New
York, Texas and Illinois. Although Pittsburgh doesn't
enjoy the lion's share of Indian immigration, the area's
population of Indian immigrants is growing rapidly.
According to the census, approximately 14,000
Indian-born immigrants live in Pittsburgh.
Indian immigration to Pittsburgh has paralleled the
city's rise from a blue-collar, industrial-based economy
to a white-collar, high-tech and medical services
economy. Most Indian immigrants come to the area take
professional positions such as doctors or engineers.
During the 1980s the abundance of high-tech positions
attracted them, and with the area's medical schools and
hospitals, the succeeding decades brought medical
professionals. Our fine universities also attract
Indian immigrants, enrolling approximately 100 students
from India each year.
Indian Places of Worship in Pittsburgh
In addition to the lure of professional positions and
advanced education, one other thing has served as magnet
for attracting Indians to the area: the Sri
Venkateswara Temple. Located in Penn Hills, the temple
was built in 1978 by Hindu worshipers. The stark white
temple with its striking architecture overlooks the
Parkway East and is a focal point in Pittsburgh for
Indians of the Hindu faith. It is patterned after the
sacred Tirupati Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh,
India. Not only does the temple call to Indians in
Pittsburgh, but also to those from around the country
and the world who have visited the beautiful temple.
One of its most noted elements is the Golden Chariot.
While Hinduism is practiced by 80 percent of Indians,
the country is enormous and diverse and its citizens
practice a panoply of religions. Jainism advocates
pacifism and non-violence to all living things. The
Hindu-Jain Temple in Monroeville opened in 1990 to
accommodate the burgeoning need for a place to gather
and worship. Christianity is a minority religion in
India, but there are Indian Christians in the area, and
they too have a church: the Asian Indian Christian
church on Greentree Road. It has also become
increasingly common to find Indians at Roman Catholic
masses in Pittsburgh.
Why No "Little India?"
Unlike other ethnic groups who immigrated to
Pittsburgh, Indians have not settled in homogeneous
communities like the Italians did in Bloomfield or
the Germans on Troy Hill. You will not find a
"Little India" or "Indian Town" in Pittsburgh.
Indians have managed to assimilate rather seamlessly
into the Pittsburgh culture. Perhaps it is because
the Indian immigrants arriving in Pittsburgh have
been more highly educated when compared to the
European immigrant counterparts who came in previous
decades, enabling them to have a greater visibility
and more interaction with the citizens already
residing here. When previous immigrants came, many
could not speak the language, tended to cluster in
enclaves and take menial jobs, which limited their
interaction with a larger segment of society. The
foreign-born immigrant, non-conversant in English
sweeping the streets did not interact with society
as well as the highly-educated immigrant from India
who has a command of English and who is your child's
pediatrician and lives down the street from you.
One challenge that all immigrants face is how to
assimilate without losing the cultural link to the
homeland. In addition to religious services, many
of the faith communities offer educational and
cultural programs that help Indians retain their
heritage. In addition, the Indian Cultural
Association of Pittsburgh located in the North Hills
provides Hindi language classes as well as lessons
on Indian geography, history, sports, music, dance,
and art. The Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of
Learning at the University of Pittsburgh boasts an
Indian classroom. Finished in 2000, the room is
modeled after a courtyard from Nalanda University
and showcases Indian art, architecture, and the
National Symbol of India.
One sign of a group's success in blending into
the community is how readily the host culture takes
to aspects of the immigrant's customs and cuisine.
Examples of American acceptance of Indian culture
and peoples abound, from the popularity of the film
Slumdog Millionaire to the election of Louisiana
Governor Piyush Amrit "Bobby" Jindal, the youngest
and one of the most popular governors in the United
The Pittsburgh area has several fine Indian
restaurants and markets that are not only frequented
by Indians but by those outside the culture as
well. Besides the cuisine, you might be surprised
to find how vibrant the Indian culture is in
Pittsburgh. The Cinemark Cinemas in Robinson
Township often have special showings of Bollywood
features. And the local cable fitness channel
offers exercise videos featuring aerobic dance
incorporating Indian folk steps.
The Indian culture is one of the oldest on
earth. For many years those in the West knew very
little about the Indian culture. Most Westerners'
knowledge has been limited to yoga, the Taj Mahal
and the work of peerless peace and freedom activist
Mahatma Gandhi. Today, that is all changing. The
blossoming of the Indian culture in America and
Pittsburgh has been subtle and beautiful like the
opening of a lotus. Pittsburgh says Namaste to the
Indians residing here and to those from India who
come to visit.
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