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Covid: Diwali celebrations for Wales 'different' this year

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media captionHow will Diwali be celebrated in Wales this year?

Diwali celebrations in Wales this year will be very different under Covid restriction, say those taking part in the festivities.

Known as the festival of lights, it is celebrated over five days by millions of Hindu, Sikhs and Jains across the world.

Outdoor celebrations around the UK have been cancelled due to the pandemic, including firework displays in Cardiff.

However Hindus in Wales are "delighted" to celebrate out of lockdown.

image copyrightShree Swaminarayan Temple Cardiff
image captionDiwali is normally a time for the community to come together

In England, a full month-long lockdown means families are unable to gather outside of their own households, or attend ceremonies in temples.

"Obviously we are delighted we have come out of the firebreak lockdown here in Wales," said Karsan Vaghani, who is vice-chair of the Hindu Council for Wales.

"Had it still been lockdown it would have been a totally different experience.

"Diwali is very much about family and community coming together."

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It means private prayer and worship will still be able to take place at temples while other events are being held online.

The Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Cardiff, the focus for many of the Diwali celebrations in the Welsh capital, has distributed craft boxes so children can decorate their homes.

image copyrightShri Swaminarayan Mandir, Cardiff
image captionThere will be no Diwali fireworks over Cardiff's Shri Swaminarayan Temple this year

What are the rules on meeting up around the UK?

The rules for people celebrating Diwali together this year are different because of restrictions in place.

But what are the regulations for meeting friends and family around the UK?

  • Two households can form a bubble and meet in their own homes in Wales
  • England is under its second national lockdown. People are not allowed to mix with anyone outside their household or social bubble indoors or in private gardens
  • In Scotland, with the exception of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, people are not allowed to meet anyone outside their household or extended household inside a private home
  • In Northern Ireland, you must not socialise with anyone from outside your household, or bubble, indoors in private homes

For more on the latest regulations around the UK, read our explainer.

It will mean some may also have to make difficult decisions about seeing members of extended families in Wales this year.

Even though the two-week firebreak lockdown ended in Wales on 9 November, restrictions still apply.

Members of two households can form a bubble to meet at home, so some relatives could miss out this year.

Gatherings at private gardens are also banned - so inviting friends over for fireworks is not allowed.

What is Diwali?

image copyrightShree Swaminarayan Temple Cardiff
image captionAnnakut, literally "mountain of food", marks the Hindu New Year, and is later shared among the community

Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.

This year it started on 12 November, with the main day of celebrations taking place on Saturday.

Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas.

The Honorary Consulate of India has had to cancel its annual party in Cardiff.

Instead, the Honorary Consul and Welsh Government have been hosting a week of virtual Diwali events online.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was an opportunity for him to send "my warm wishes to the Indian community in Wales".

"Diwali is a time to mark the triumph of hope over despair. So, as we celebrate the festival, let us look forward with hope to a more positive future beyond the current crisis," he said.

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