BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014
leicesterleicester

BBC Homepage
England
»BBC Local
Leicester
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Leicester

Birmingham
Derby
Lincolnshire
Northampton
Nottingham

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

Asian Life

Diwali
Celebrating Diwali

Diwali in Leicester

by Jeevan Panesar
Leicester is home to the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India. Jeevan tells us what they're all about - plus tell us what you'll be up to at the bottom of the page...

What is Diwali?

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, and is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

It celebrates the New Year sometime between late October and mid-November.

The festival of Diwali extends over five days. Because of the lights, fireworks, and sweets involved, it's a great favourite with children.

The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India.

In Britain, as in India, the festival is a time for thoroughly spring-cleaning the home and for wearing new clothes and most importantly, decorating buildings with fancy lights.

Diwali is the Hindu celebration of lights and is the biggest festival on the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated all over the world on the Hindu New Year, which according to the lunar calendar, falls on the full moon between October and November. This year it falls on 1 November.

The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. However, the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India.

Diwali celebrations in Leicester
Diwali celebrations in Leicester

The most legendary is that Diwali marks the day when Lord Ram was crowned as the King of Ayodhya on his return to the kingdom with wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of exile and slaying of the demon King Ravan. To celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya lit divas, little oil lamps, and placed them along the streets.

The time is also significant to Sikhs. During the festival time in 1620, the sixth Guru, Hargobind Singh, gained the release of 52 Hindu princes who had been falsely imprisoned in Gwallior Fort by the rulers of the area, the Mughals. The Golden Temple was lit with many lights to welcome the release of Guru Hargobind and Sikhs have continued the celebration.

All over the world Diwali is celebrated with a great deal of joy and optimism, as it is a period that marks new beginnings. Houses are thoroughly cleaned or redecorated.

Look at the pictures from the Diwali lights switch-on in Leicester
Diwali lights switch-on >
Jeevan talks about Diwali >

In India, courtyards are swept and decorated with 'rangoli' – patterns created with powdered or wet paint. Doorways of homes are festooned with 'torans' – decorative garlands made with golden marigolds and fresh mango leaves.

Private and communal worship is a major feature of the festival, and devout Hindus wake up early and bathe at the crack of dawn to go to temple.

"Leicester boasts the biggest celebrations outside India. The Golden Mile, Melton Road, is lit up with thousands of coloured lights and decorations"
Jeevan Panesar

Every year Leicester boasts the biggest celebrations of Diwali outside of India. The city's Golden Mile, Melton Road, is lit up with thousands of colourful lights and decorations to mark the arrival of the festival.

The switching on of the Diwali lights has in the past attracted up to 60,000 people from all over the region, who come to join in with the unique celebrations.

Fireworks are released to symbolise the celebration of lights. Hindus and Sikhs visit temples across the city and as it is also the New Year for Hindus, it is a time to visit family, rejoice and reflect.

last updated: 13/10/06
Have Your Say
What will you be doing for Diwali this year? What do you love most about the festival?
Your name: 
Your comment: 
 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

jitesh ahuja
this diwali will be most beautiful diwali because of many new things like new crackers,new lights etc.

SARAH BALL
HELLO! CAN YOU HELP? OUR BEAVER COLONY IN MELTON MOWBRAY ARE GOING TO BE DEDICATING A EVENING IN THIS TERMS PROGRAMME TO DIWALI. THEY WANT TO HAVE AN INSIGHT INTO THE 'MEANING' OF DIWALI, HOW IT IS CELEBRATED, FOODS EATEN DURING THE CELEBRATION - WITH SOME TASTING! I WAS WONDERING IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO WOULD BE WILLING TO COME ALONG TO OUR MEETING AND SHARE SOME OF THEIR CULTURE WITH US. MANY THANKS SARAH BALL

Prof Paul
I think this article is extremely informative and the author has done a brilliant job. Well done Jeevan.

mayur
i love diwali becouse it is when hindus are happy and mostly becouse it is a light show, this year i will sepnd diwali with my friends and family

SEE ALSO
home
HOME
email
EMAIL
print
PRINT
Go to the top of the page
TOP
SITE CONTENTS
SEE ALSO




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy