What Do People Do?Many activities and events are held in United Kingdom to celebrate Diwali, which is known as the “Festival of Lights”. Diwali is a time for spring cleaning in homes and offices. Many homes that celebrate Diwali have assorted sweets, savories and Diwali herbs. Various lights, candles and sparklers are lit inside and outside homes.
Many people wear their finest clothes to celebrate Diwali. Many women wearing jewelry and silk outfits and some have mehendi, which is a temporary henna decoration, on their palms. Many Indian businesses see Diwali as a day to start the new financial year because of Diwali’s ties with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Many cities throughout the United Kingdom celebrate the Diwali festival with firework displays, dances, plays, street lighting, Diwali lanterns, traditional Indian food, and music. Hindu council representatives, spokespeople from Indian associations, and political leaders publicly announce their greetings to those involved in organizing and participating in Diwali celebrations.
Public LifeDiwali is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom but it is celebrated in many towns and cities such as Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leicester, and London. There may be traffic congestion and parking places may be full in areas where events are held to celebrate Diwali. Some Indian businesses may close early on Diwali.
BackgroundThe United Kingdom consists of various ethnic groups and religions. Hindus comprised the second largest non-Christian religious group in the United Kingdom, according to national statistics for 2001. There were more than half a million Hindus comprising one percent of the total population and 18 percent of the non-Christian religious population in the United Kingdom. Diwali is one of the major festivals in the Hindu calendar that is celebrated in many parts of the United Kingdom.
Diwali is called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana. People lit their houses to celebrate his victory over evil (light over darkness).
The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, also figures into the celebration. It is believed that she roams the Earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”.
SymbolsLamps, fireworks and bonfires illuminate this holiday, as the word “Deepawali” means “a row or cluster of lights” or “rows of diyas (clay lamps)”. The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, happiness and prosperity, is also worshipped during Diwali.
About Diwali/Deepavali in other countries
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