The Hindu Society, with the Global Lounge, bring you a warm and welcoming virtual celebration of Diwali
Wednesday 11 November
Diwali, commonly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, lasts between 4 to 5 days and, like Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, follows the ‘lunar calendar’ meaning that the date changes each year.
‘Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’
This year, the Bristol Hindu Society celebrated Diwali with a virtual event which was open to all, introducing the festival to those who may not know much about it, whilst allowing those who would normally celebrate with family and loved ones the opportunity to come together and celebrate online. Akash, president of the Bristol Hindu Society, introduced the event, kicking things off with a beautiful Aarti – a type of prayer which the society typically start their events off with.
Akash went onto explain that while there may be many possible origins of Diwali, the core essence remains the same: ‘the victory of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance,’ going on to say that it is also not a festival ‘limited only to Hinduism and Hindus’ but that ‘Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’
Some typical features of celebrating Diwali include:
- lighting diyas – an oil lamp usually made from clay
- fireworks – to guide the spirits of ancestors
- rangolis – patterns made of coloured sand or crushed flowers to beautify the house and a sign to welcome visitors
‘Who needs measuring spoons when you have your hands!’
After the introduction to Diwali students talked about how it’s felt not being able to celebrate with loved ones at home this year, and shared with each other how they were celebrating Diwali during lockdown, which included dinner with housemates, Bollywood music and movies, and eating / making homemade sweets!
Students also shared with each other how they would usually celebrate with family – with a large focus on food, including an insight into Indian cooking and a mother’s tip when it comes to recipes: “Who needs measuring spoons when you have hands!”
The community-feeling really shone through during these conversations and even for those who don’t celebrate Diwali, it was a wonderful insight into this annual celebration.
‘Wear Indian clothes just to get into the feel of it. At Christmas people wear Christmas jumpers, so in the same way, wear some Indian clothing to get in the mood.’
Students ended the event by giving tips on how you can celebrate Diwali at home, including:
- watching popular Indian movies (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum is recommended!)
- buying or making homemade sweets
- lighting sparklers
- celebrating virtually with family and loved-ones
- having a go at cooking Indian food that you would normally have with family – or – treating yourself and ordering online
- wearing some traditional Indian clothing to get you into the mood and playing some music
- using candles or fairy lights to decorate your spaces at home
Check out the full event here, and be inspired to make Diwali just as special this year – where ever you are!