Celebrating Diwali - the Festival of Lights

If you’ve never experienced the sensory spectacular that is Diwali, the Festival of Lights, you’re missing a real treat. The good news is that the festival will be lighting up the lives of millions across the world this week. Better still, if you live in Australia or the UK, you’ll have the chance to experience all the magic of Diwali for yourself at one of the many celebrations across in each county.

 

India’s five-day Festival of Lights

For those who aren’t familiar, Diwali is one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, celebrated my millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains both at home and across the world. Its origins depend on which faith you happen to talk to, but one of the most popular interpretations stems from the 15th century BC.

 

Light over darkness

As the legend goes, Northern Indian locals welcomed their revered Lord Rama and his wife Sita home with fireworks in celebration of their return from exile, after defeating the demon king Ravanna.

With a central theme of ‘light over darkness’ and ‘good over evil,’ Diwali brings in the Hindu New Year with a bang, a flash and much more.

Indian homes are festooned in candles and colourful lights. Gifts are exchanged and family feasts of rich savoury and sweet dishes are enjoyed while all eyes look skyward and massive firework displays light up the night sky from Mumbai to Melbourne.

 

When is Diwali?

It varies from year to year. The Hindu lunar calendar dictates the exact dates but as a general yardstick, the festival usually takes place over five days between mid-October and mid-November with the main Diwali festival on the third day.

 

Diwali Australian-style

Yes, it should come as no surprise to find that with a passionate Indian community spread right across Australia, Diwali is now a shining light in the Downunder calendar. The biggest events take place in Sydney and Melbourne. They are on a grand colourful scale with major fireworks displays, live music, dancing and diverse Indian food stalls. Of course, as a festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil, effigies of the demon king Ravanna are also burned with great delight and genuine meaning.

 

Diwali, UK-style

Same with the UK. If you’re keen to light up your Diwali British-style, some of the biggest Festival of Lights celebrations take place in Leicester and London, though there are smaller, equally passionate events staged in other cities across the UK from north to south over the five days. The Leicester Festival of Lights is an extravaganza of fireworks, street art and live entertainment attended by thousands. Not to be outdone, London’s Trafalgar Square turns into a spectacular Festival of Lights, fireworks and fun befitting a city with such a vibrant Indian culture.

 

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