Keep Calm, Celebrate Light: Diwali Events Around the Country
Salute the victory of light over darkness at an arts centre near you
The days are getting shorter and colder, and as we hurtle towards the end of the ugliest and most depressing US presidential election in living memory, it's worth remembering that darkness, ignorance and despair will not always triumph over light, knowledge and hope. Amirite, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about: Diwali is coming.
Diwali is the ancient Hindu festival of light, although it's also celebrated, for varying reasons, by Jains, Sikhs and the Newar Buddhists of Nepal. In the Hindu tradition, it marks the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from their long exile after defeating Ravana; Sita is an avatar of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, fertility and prosperity, and to celebrate Diwali is get into Lakshmi's good books. And so, for five days between mid-October and mid-November, celebrants clean their homes and decorate them with lights, give gifts to family members and close friends, and let off fireworks. No surprise that it's also India's big shopping season, the subcontinent's equivalent of Christmas.
There are Diwali events happening all over Britain, but no surprise that most of them are in Leicester, Britain's most proudly multi-cultural city, a place where everybody belongs to an ethnic minority. There are drama workshops, art exhibitions, storytelling sessions, concerts and of course light shows, all championing the struggle of good against evil. Below is a selection of Diwali events from all over the island.
Soho Road Diwali
Live music with Roshan Prince and Jaz Dhami, with food and other celebrations.
Soho Road, Sun 16 Oct, noon–6.30pm
Discover a 200-year-old Scottish-Nepali Relationship
Find out about the work of an 18th century Scottish medic in the Kathmandu valley, and celebrate Diwali with local Nepali-Scots people.
John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden, Sat 29 Oct, 1–4pm
Talk and Meditation
Discover the true meaning of Diwali (or a true meaning, anyway; Hindu mythology ain't simple) in this talk and meditation session.
Inner Space Glasgow Meditation Centre, Thu 27 Oct, 7pm
Diwali Lights Switch On
The traditional switching-on of the lights, including a traditional music and dance programme and an aerial firework display over Leicester's Golden Mile.
Cossington Street Recreation Ground, Sun 16 Oct 3–7pm, Mon 17 Oct 1–7pm.
6000 Lights: The Story of Diwali in Leicester
A look at the history of Diwali in Leicester and the people who turned it from its small beginnings in the 1960s to today's festival, one of the biggest of its kind outside India.
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, until Sun 27 Nov.
Diwali Colour Trail
Kids can explore light and colour in the gallery.
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Mon 17--Sun 30 Oct, 11am–4pm.
Drama and creative arts sessions for ages 8–14, in which you can explore the story of Diwali and join in the lantern parade.
Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Mon 17, Wed 19 & Fri 21 Oct, 1–4pm.
Join 40,000 people in Trafalgar Square for contemporary Asian music and dance, with traditional religious music to open and close the festivities.
Trafalgar Square, Sun 16 Oct, noon–8pm.
Cutty Sark Diwali Festival of Light
A three-day celebration of the festival of light, with live music, light installations, market stalls and community groups.
Cutty Sark, Greenwich, Fri 21–Sun 23 Oct, noon–8pm.
Learn how to make traditional Rangoli decorations in this festival-themed workshop.
National Waterfront Museum, Sat 22 & Sun 23 Oct, 12.30–3.30pm.