Diwali is famously known as the festival of lights but this year, in the UK, and in certain places around the world, celebrations are going to be very different to any other year. Diwali, in my family, is about meeting extended family and friends, sharing great food and just having a time of togetherness which often doesn’t happen at any other time of a given year. Sadly, this is not possible this year, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions. And it really does make me feel a bit sad. However, all is not lost…
Be over-indulgent, even if you’re at home!
Yes, it’s all about delicious fried and amazing sweet food when there are family occasions and Diwali is one time I do let myself go – it’s one of those rare times in the year. This year, this one thing will remain so as the nasto has come out, as have the pendas and mohanthal. I tried to ask mum to make some sweet treats without sugar and she made shakkarpara with a sugar alternative. They’re not the same (clue’s in “shakkar”) but they’ll do! However, for me, as Diwali is with my parents this time and there will be many only with their own household members this year or maybe one other household (if in a social bubble), I think it’ll be a less-indulgent one? It will for me but there are Diwali treats already with my name on them! It’s just not right to keep away when you’re so sad not to be with your extended family… right?
Places to visit for Diwali lights in London
Whereas Christmas is the time of year that London is arguably most beautiful with so many places lit up in celebration, this time it feels Diwali has a decent representation too. There are places you can visit which could make you feel like it’s Diwali that little bit more such as Jubilee Park in Canary Wharf which has a flower installation in the water, in the shapes of diyas. The pictures are stunning so if you want to catch the display, it’s there until Sunday 15 November and you can find details here.
Another thing that’s on until January 2021 is the Tate Britain Diwali display by the talented Chila Kumari Singh Burman. It’s the winter commission and lights up the outside of the building so beautifully. The British and Indian representations in neon lights have been launched to coincide with Diwali and more details are here.
Take advantage of celebrations online
There are so many communities I know of that have chosen to host virtual celebrations this year, to ensure that people can still “come together” albeit through a computer or phone screen. However, there are some events that are wholesome and a little more mainstream too. For example, the National Maritime Museum will be having a live Facebook session, including dance performances, which anyone can join in to watch. You can find details here.
The annual Diwali mela-type celebration which happens in Trafalgar Square is a popular event but it’s also gone online this year, as the organisers have confirmed. You can find details here.
And finally… don’t forget to check in
It might be a difficult time for many, not being able to see close ones, but don’t forget to check in on anyone you feel might need a shoulder or a chat. You may not be able to physically show your support but there’s nothing stopping you picking up the phone for a call or video chat or even dropping off some food to someone (from a safe distance). It’s when these special occasions come about that the loneliness kicks in for so many who may be living alone or away from their friends and family. Give them some thought. There’s no harm in saying hi!
I know it’s difficult spending an important occasion in the calendar without loved ones. But remember that Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil and it also shows how resilience and determination can successfully defeat an enemy. It couldn’t be a more relevant thought right now so please ensure you are keeping safe, following the guidelines appropriately and, most importantly, continuing to be grateful for even the little things.
Wishing you all a very happy Diwali and naya saal mubarak!
While you’re here, check out my blog Why I believe “me time” is so important for Indian women.