What is Diwali, when is it celebrated and what are people doing?

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Every year around October and November, the UK skies are filled with fireworks as the celebrations take place.

Diwali is a five-day “festival of lights” and celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and it begins this week.

Here is an explanation of why it is celebrated and what is happening:

Fireworks can usually be seen in the sky during the festival (Yui Mok / PA)

– When is it celebrated?

The festival usually takes place between October and November, with the date changing each year.

This year, it will take place from November 2-6, the most important day of the festival falling on November 4.

– Who celebrates it and why?

Originally from India, Diwali is celebrated across the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but for different reasons.

Hindus celebrate the return of Lord Rama – an avatar of the supreme Hindu god Lord Vishnu – with his wife and brother to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile.

Streets and towns were lit with Diwas (candles) to welcome them to their homes.

It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains (Victoria Jones / PA)
It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains (Victoria Jones / PA)

In South India, Diwali is the day when the demon Narakasura was defeated by Sri Krishna and Satyabhama.

For others, Diwali is dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi, believed to bring wealth and prosperity.

In many homes, the celebrations include a puja (worship) of the Goddess to pray for health and happiness.

Sikhs, meanwhile, celebrate the release of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619.

Jains celebrate Diwali as Lord Mahavira, the last Jain Tirthankaras, reached Nirvana.

According to the British Sikh Association, Diwali celebrations in British cities have probably become the most important outside of India.

A spokesperson told the PA News Agency: ‘Diwali is celebrated at the Prime Minister’s Residence, 10 Downing Street, in the House of Commons, with parliamentarians from all parties joining in the celebrations as we are. today.

“Diwali in Trafalgar Square is attended by thousands of people, including tourists visiting the capital who are mesmerized by the colorful spectacle of music, dance and food.”

– What are people doing?

According to the Hindu Council UK, Diwali is “probably the best known in India”, although the celebrations are widespread around the world.

The lights are on and the gifts are exchanged (Joe Giddens / PA)
The lights are on and the gifts are exchanged (Joe Giddens / PA)

A spokesperson for the organization said: “In London, in particular, Diwali has become a mega-event to celebrate the culture and traditions of India. From live music to dance performances and more. London really goes there.

“It’s a family event with lots of activities including music and dance performances, workshops and activities for kids. And there is a huge range of Indian food to be tasted at all the food stalls and a huge fireworks display to end the festival.

“In India, houses are cleaned, often renovated and always lit with fairy lights and oil lamps. Most of the doors and foyers are decorated with beautiful patterns on the floor, called rangolis.

“Children wait in candy shops to buy candy, excited young people light up the sky with their repertoire of carefully selected firecrackers and shout ‘Happy Diwali’ to unsuspecting passers-by.”

Gifts of clothes and candy are also exchanged between people, with markets and stalls selling items months before the festival.


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