Sharda Lavingia, a member of our coproduction cohort the Age of Experience group, writes about how she and her husband joined an online community celebrating Diwali through the UK lockdown in November 2020.
Diwali is celebrated over 4 days, usually around October and November and this year Diwali celebrations were very different due to the lockdown. Normally, there would be a lot of visits to the sweet shop to buy Indian sweets as well as visits to temples for worship. Usually, there will also be stalls organised with food and Indian art and crafts.
Diwali is celebrated over four days and the first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras Goddess Lakshmi. That's when the god called Ganesh is worshipped with a focus on wealth. We pray that whatever we earn, let it be earned honestly and that we spend our hard earned wealth in a good way and being able to donate to the less fortunate.
The second day of Diwali is spent in prayers and meditation. We chant to Goddess Kalima and the names of Lord Hanuman.There's a focus on getting rid of evil tendencies within us such as jealousy, envy, anger and greed. We don't normally venture out on this day. In the evening we prepare for the following day when the main celebrations take place. This means a lot of cleaning and cooking!
The third day is Diwali day, this is the main celebration day and normally we would get ready early and go to the temple for worship, take Indian sweets and savouries to relatives' houses and they would visit our home. There's a family meal, and in the evening children burn firecrackers!
The fourth day is the new year and we get up early to visit the temple and relatives' houses to wish them well. There's another family meal in the evening. We exchange gifts, usually gold jewellery and money and blessings are given by the elders of the family.
Of course, our normal celebrations were not possible to do because of the national lockdown. So we connected via Zoom to watch Diwali celebrations from all over the world and also locally from Birmingham. We celebrated in good spirits and instead of venturing out we enjoyed our time being indoors and wishing friends and family well online and through phone calls.
We kept our spirits high and obeyed the Government rules of lockdown and truly enjoyed as we were more relaxed at home.
We now look forward to celebrating Christmas.