Diwali/Deepavali in United Kingdom
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a significant and widely celebrated festival among the Indian and South Asian communities in the United Kingdom. Known as the "Festival of Lights," Diwali is a time for joy, happiness, and togetherness, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
Diwali is celebrated based on the Hindu lunar calendar, typically falling between mid-October and mid-November. The exact date varies each year, as it is determined by the position of the moon. In 2022, Diwali will be celebrated on October 24th.
The United Kingdom has a long history of immigration from India and other South Asian countries, dating back to the 19th century. As a result, the celebration of Diwali has become an integral part of the multicultural fabric of the UK. Over the years, Diwali celebrations have grown in scale and popularity, with large public events and gatherings held across the country.
National customs for Diwali in the United Kingdom
Diwali celebrations in the United Kingdom share many similarities with those in India and other South Asian countries. The festival generally lasts for five days, with each day having its own significance and rituals. Some common customs include:
- Cleaning and decorating homes with colorful rangoli patterns and lighting diyas (oil lamps) or candles to welcome the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
- Exchanging gifts and sweets with friends, family, and neighbors.
- Wearing new clothes and attending prayer services at local temples.
- Enjoying fireworks displays and community events showcasing traditional Indian music, dance, and food.
In recent years, Diwali has gained recognition as a major cultural event in the UK, with various cities hosting large-scale celebrations. These events often include vibrant street parades, live performances, and spectacular fireworks displays that attract thousands of people from diverse backgrounds.
Local customs for Diwali in the United Kingdom
While the overarching customs of Diwali are consistent across the UK, different regions and communities may have their unique traditions and ways of celebrating the festival. For instance, the city of Leicester is known for hosting one of the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India. The city's Golden Mile, an area with a high concentration of Indian shops and restaurants, comes alive with colorful lights, decorations, and cultural performances during the festive season.
In London, the iconic Trafalgar Square hosts an annual Diwali event, featuring Indian music, dance, food, and workshops, all aimed at promoting cultural exchange and understanding. Other cities like Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh also host their own Diwali events, reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of the South Asian community in the UK.
Diwali is a beloved and widely celebrated festival in the United Kingdom, bringing together people of various backgrounds to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of India and other South Asian countries. With its vibrant colors, joyful atmosphere, and meaningful customs, Diwali continues to enrich the multicultural landscape of the UK, fostering a greater sense of unity and understanding among its diverse communities.