A good part of this year has gone by, with the world around us curled up within itself, lockdowns after lockdowns. People have been keeping away from people, literally. Most people, at least. The spatial geometry of our connections with our loved ones and our loved activities, now features more twists and turns than a suspense thriller. No wonder, it is hard to keep the festive spirit alive in times so dreary. Even Diwali, the festival of lights?
Maybe, it doesn’t have to be this way. To make the best of it, why not celebrate a socially accepted and socially distanced, social media savvy Diwali? Diwali goes online!
Why is Diwali going online a big deal? Diwali is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the South Asian community. Every year, this auspicious day falls on the new moon (Amavasya) of the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. It is primarily celebrated by the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities, but it has transcended beyond religions and faiths. Even people removed far and away from South Asian heritage and lineage enjoy the genial festive vibes regardless.
Diwali is known as the festival of lights. As the natives of Ayodhya lit ghee soaked diyas in celebration of the victorious return of Shri Raja Rama, the night of Amavasya bathed in the golden glow of diyas. The day is celebrated as the victory over evil, as Shri Ram successfully rescued his wife, Sita from the demon lord Ravana, who had kidnapped Sita.
The subcontinent of India and the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan shine bright on the joyous occasion of Diwali, covered in the blanket of fairy lights, diyas and spectacular fireworks. It is a popular internet rumour that the bright Diwali lights make the South Asian part of our planet light up bright to the extent that it stands out even when viewed from the International Space Station. NASA has vehemently denied the notion, but it does give you the idea of the kind of exuberance with which the festival is celebrated.
Given the prominent South Asian diaspora in the UK, every year, these communities come together to celebrate the festival with unparalleled pomp and show. One of the most popular Diwali events in the UK is set right in the heart of London, at Trafalgar Square. Diwali On Trafalgar Square (“DOTS”) event, gets busy and alive hours before the celebrations begin. Dance and music artists from the world over showcase their mesmerizing talents before thousands of people in attendance. The event usually takes place on the weekend before Diwali. For the past 18 years, the Diwali in London (DiL) committee, has been organizing this event in collaboration with the Mayor of London. This year, however, the event will be held online on the 1st of November, from 3-7pm. The organizers will run best moments from the past iterations of the event. Visit diwaliinlondon.com for more information.
Some of the most popular and stunning Diwali events like the “Wembley Festival of Lights” have been cancelled due to the pandemic. However, there is no dearth of options to fill the void. Every year, the London borough of Harrow is illuminated beautifully in a majestic display of twinkling lights, diyas and fireworks. This year, however, the borough’s fireworks would be best viewed online, from the safety and comfort of your home. Two fireworks events will be held on November 5th and November 14th. You can engage and contribute your videos or photographs with Harrow Fireworks on Instagram, Facebook or Tik-Tok. You can also host your personal fireworks display through supplies from harrowfireworks.co.uk
Talking about other offbeat and quirky Diwali events held across London, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, have come up with a unique creative way of celebrating Diwali at home. The event would involve arts & crafts activities, hosted by the renowned visual artist Meera Chauda. The event would feature storytelling, moon-gazing, and ultimately exploring the connection between Greenwich and India. For more information visit rmg.co.uk
Outside London, one of the most popular Diwali celebrations take place in the city of Leicester, on Belgrave Road. The event packs a punch, bathed in lights and an ostentatious fireworks display. This year’s event as expected, would take place online. On November 14th, the organizers have set up an online event, which would feature personal video messages from people across the globe. You! Yes, you can too send your heartfelt festive moments to the organizers ahead of the event. The event would also host dance, music, and storytelling events, completed with a display of fireworks from the previous year’s events. You are encouraged to dress up in your traditional attires, draw up your rangolis, light up diyas and send 30-45 second videos with personal Diwali wishes to your loved ones at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information at www.visitleicester.info
Before we let the festive fever take over us, let us remember the risk such festive mingling could bring. The COVID-19 socializing restrictions urge people to refrain from mixing with different households. Please exercise reasonable and practical caution when exchanging festivities to enjoy a responsible Diwali.
We, at Asian Junction wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy Diwali!