A time to celebrate good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over darkness, the Hindu ‘festival of lights’ is here once again and is welcoming Nottingham to join in on the cultural celebration.
One of the most popular of South Asian festivals, Diwali falls in Autumn, stretching over five days and seeing millions from varying cultures across the world taking part in the much celebrated festival.
Although the biggest of Diwali celebrations in the UK are traditionally in the city of Leicester, many want to make Nottingham the place to be for this year’s festival.
With such a strong multicultural community, Nottingham offers a range of inclusive services to welcome and celebrate the culture of those from outside of the UK, especially The Indian Community Centre Association in Carrington.
The centre’s general manager, Mark Bowyer said:
It is so important for people to acknowledge different cultures and this will be a recognition of a celebrated, strong and positive cultural tradition.
He said: “To celebrate Diwali we have been giving out gifts and providing special lunches for the elderly in our day care centre and on Saturday we will be hosting a party with a three course meal, traditional singing and Bollywood dancing.”
Derived from the Sanskrit word “dipavali” meaning “row of lights”, the festival marks the beginning of the New Year for most Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and revolves around celebrating ancient Indian legends, especially honouring the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
In countries across the world families celebrating Diwali open their windows and doors, lining them with small oil lamps to guide the goddess into their homes to bless them with luck and fortune for the coming year.
Diwali is dedicated to several gods and goddesses.
Legend says on the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon King Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity.
The celebration of this freedom went on for days and the victory festival took place on the day now considered ‘Diwali day’.
Aside from the spiritual and religious connotations attached to the festival, experiencing Diwali means being surrounded by the cultural traditions passed on from generation to generation.
With thousands of lights and fireworks, food banquets, Bollywood dancing, singing and Rangoli pattern drawing, the festival is loud, colourful and bright and welcomes those from all cultures and religions to join.
Nottingham Trent University, well known for its international student community, has also been making its mark on the Diwali celebrations at their Global Lounge on the city campus.
Greg Ozokwelu, assistant manager at the Global Lounge, said: “The Global Lounge is all about cross cultural awareness- we are a centre for cultural and social exchange while promoting and celebrating traditions from all over the world.
“For Diwali we have a great event, we have Rangoli and Henna activities, Bollywood music and we teach people how to wear traditional Indian dress.
The Indian community hold Diwali so high and they appreciate it so much when others know what they are celebrating – it gives them the feeling of being at home.
The significance of Diwali to Indian communities is much like the importance of Christmas to the Christian world and families across Nottingham have been celebrating to the fullest extent.
Watch below to see how an Indian family in Nottingham marked Diwali 2014.
Set to take place on November 11, plans for 2015 Diwali celebrations will be posted on the Experience Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Council websites.