Here in the UK, we’re gearing up for Halloween and Bonfire Night, yet there is another celebration that millions of Indians - Hindus, Sikhs and Jains - around the world are about to take part in. This Wednesday October 26th 2011, is Diwali - a five day festival that honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Perhaps the most well known Hindu festival, the word ‘Diwali’ actually means ‘rows of lighted lamps’, and has become known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ due to the small, earthenware oil lamps (diyas) that adorn shops, houses and public places during the celebration.
These lamps are lit to guide Lakshmi into people’s homes in order to bless them with success. Hindus tend to start the business year at Diwali in the hope that it will bring them good luck. It is also a time that another Diwali legend is celebrated – that of the return of Rama and Sita to Rama’s kingdom after 14 years of exile.
Diwali in Watford
There have been a number of Diwali celebrations taking place in and around Watford, including a huge Diwali fireworks display at Bhaktivedanta Manor temple in Aldenham, which saw 10,000 people joining in the celebrations, dressing up as Hindu gods, watching plays and dances that told the story of Rama and Sita and seeing hundreds of Chinese lanterns float into the sky.
Plus, around 150 children dressed up as Hindu gods and Bollywood stars at the St James Theatre at Watford Grammar School for boys in preparation for Wednesday.