Diwali. The Hindu New Year that celebrates new beginnings and the victory of good over evil.
The biggest and most important holiday in India that lasts 3 days, starting with what is known as Dhanteras (name given to the first day that marks the festival of Diwali). It is a festival that is celebrated with grandeur in its home country with lights, fireworks, sparklers, and candles, illuminating every corner of India.
Families get together to feast on good food and exchange sweets and gifts and the entire population comes together as one, cropping the barrier that separates their castes and religions to commemorate the special occasion. Families leave the doors open to their establishments, letting their residences soak up the light and positive vibes to be motivated for another year of triumph.
The celebration has spread its wings and is also appreciated all over the world as communities of Indians gather together in other countries they reside in and keep the tradition flowing by brightening up their surroundings, sharing the joy of the occasion and avoid missing out on the feel of home.
London is one of the most diverse cities in the whole world, and within it lays the hub of all traditions from all cultures. This is especially recognized within the Indian community due to the grand number of Indians residing in London. With quantities of temples and cultural centres, the brown Asian population of London has left an imprint on what our culture is all about.
On events such as Diwali, London as well lights up, with events around all of London to celebrate the day. Every year, the mayor of London teams up with the Diwali in London committee to host a large event in Trafalgar Square where music is blasting from the beginning of the day till the end and a show is being held with music, dancing and, of course, prayers to spread cultural and spiritual awareness. Crowds gather round to learn, intake and participate and hence the atmosphere of joy is radiated around the crowd of London.
However, aside from grand events like these, local celebrations continue in areas such as Southall and Wembley, with local members lighting up fireworks, sparklers and sharing sweets and love with their families, friends, and neighbors.
Indian sweet shops such as Ambala and Royal sell in quantities around this time of the year as no one can truly celebrate Diwali without sweets, or what it is recognised in the Indian community as: mithai. Temples around London are also flooded around this time as families go to pay their respect and take part in the mandatory prayers that take place during the day.
You can take Indians out of India, but you can’t take India out of Indians. Happy Diwali!
Words: Neha Bharwani
Images: Ethan Hoover on Unsplash, Jude Beck on Unsplash, Meagan Paddock on Unsplash