Earlier this month, we celebrated the wonders of India in-store with our specialist presenter, Adi from Perfect Travels. Adi took us around all the insider tips, tricks and knowledge to prepare for, travelling to and returning back from India. It was a real treat for us and our guests and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
When is Diwali celebrated?
This weekend, (27.10.2019), Diwali will be celebrated. Each year in the UK the festival has grown in recognition and popularity – but do you really know what it’s all about? If not – we’re here to help you out!
With its name deriving from the word, ‘Deepavali’ meaning ‘row of lights’, Diwali celebrations last for five days, beginning on the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month, Ashvina and concluding to the second day of the light half of Karttika (in the Gregorian calendar, this falls in late October/early November).
Diwali is the biggest and most important holiday of the year for Hindus – equivalent to the importance of Christmas. Traditionally, Hindus would light the outside of their homes with a row of clay lamps to symbolise the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.
However, Diwali has become a national festival, enjoyed by many non-Hindu communities. In Jainism, Diwali marks the nirvana, or spiritual awakening, of Lord Mahavira and in Sikhism, it honours the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment.
Although each faith has its own reason to celebrate, the most popular story told is the legend of Lord Rama, and his wife Sita who returned back to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century BC.
These days, you’ll see Diwali being celebrated with millions of firework displays, prayers and events across the globe to signify new beginnings, light over darkness – or good over evil. Candles, colourful lights and huge firework displays decorate the dark skies whilst families feast on delicious food and share gifts.
Five Days of Celebration
Day One: People clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune
Day Two: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand
Day Three: On the main day of the festival, families gather together for Lakshmi puja, followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities
Day Four: The first day of the New Year. Friends and family visit with gifts and best wishes for the season
Day Five: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal
What to eat at Diwali
Think Indian sweets, with a range of colours and flavours. The festival also calls for rich savoury and sweet dishes and eating out is popular, too. Most families, however, will invite guests to eat with them before exchanging gifts and watching fireworks together. Unlike at Christmas where Turkey takes centre stage, during Diwali you’ll find a collection of favourite meals as food is more often than not the central theme to the celebrations.