Diwali – The Global Extravaganza
Neena Merchant | On 19, Oct 2013
Diwali, the festival of light is one of the most popular and widely celebrated festivals in the world. Besides India, where it all began, Diwali is also celebrated by Indians residing in countries like Malaysia, US, Nepal, Africa, Australia, Britain, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Let’s explore how people from different parts of the world celebrate Diwali in their own unique ways.
Diwali in Britain
Diwali is celebrated during October-November and in Britain, these two months means breathtakingly chilled and windy weather conditions. But somehow Indians residing in the country have never allowed the weather to play a spoil sport and affect their celebration spirits. The festivities start by visiting a temple and worshipping the shrine of Goddess Lakshmi. After that, a special feast is served to all the members of the family, which includes a variety of sweets and other popular Indian delicacies. Diwali decorations are given much importance in Britain, just like in India. People decorate their homes and surroundings in the most attractive way possible. Incense sticks are burned and special Diwali lights and diyas are placed in various corners of the house.
Diwali in Nepal
Located on the foothills of mighty Himalayas, Nepal is a charming little country with a strong Hindu community. Here, Diwali is called Tihar and it is celebrated with amazing zeal to honour Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. The festival is celebrated in the country for five long days and each day holds its own special significance. On day one, people feed cows since the animal is considered to be the Vahana (vehicle) of Lakshmi Ji. On day two, people feed dogs because dog is considered to be the Vahana of Bhairava. On day three, preparations of the main event begin. People start decorating their homes by putting up lamps and lights. On day four, Yama (God of Death) is worshipped and on day five, Bhaiya Dooj is celebrated.
Diwali in Guyana
Guyana which was earlier known as the British Guiana is actually located in South America and around 35 percent of the population residing in this country are followers of Hinduism. Since such a large portion of the population celebrates Diwali with utmost enthusiasm, the auspicious day is marked as a national holiday in the country. People distribute sweets to their friends, neighbours and relatives. Popular varieties of sweets which are easily available include – barfi, peras and kheer. Homes are decorated not just from inside but from the outside as well. Houses are cleaned properly and are adorned using special lights and diyas which are left to burn all throughout the night. According to the legend, Goddess Lakshmi visits your house on Diwali night (which is believed to be the darkest night of the year) and in order to make sure that she reaches your house without facing any obstacle, houses are cleaned and ornamented.
Diwali in Malaysia
Malaysia has slowly become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. The country offers such an astonishing variety of attractions and adventures that once you are here, you will find it difficult to say ‘goodbye’. The picturesque country is a multi-ethnic mix of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. Hindus in Malaysia form eight percent of the total population and for them Diwali (or ‘Hari Diwali’ as it is popularly called here) is an important festival which signifies conquest of good over evil. The occasion is marked by South Indian tradition of oil bathing, followed by temple visits and prayers being enchanted. Throughout the festival you will find houses decorated with tiny lamps which are crafted using clay and coconut oil with small wicks.
Diwali in Indonesia
Most of the people residing in Indonesia are followers of Islam but Bali, the gorgeous city with untouched natural beauty has a huge Hindu population and therefore here in Bali, Diwali is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm. The festival is celebrated quite traditionally like it is done in most parts of India. Diwali is considered as one of the most important festivals in this region of Indonesia and it is celebrated with a great sense of reverence.
Diwali in Mauritius
Mauritius is truly a paradise with so many extraordinarily beautiful landscapes and such a wide variety of flora and fauna. More than sixty percent of the people residing in Mauritius are of Indian origin and therefore the country celebrates all kinds of Indian festivals with great fervour. In Mauritius, the festival is celebrated in a very traditional way. People here have a belief that Diwali was celebrated, even before Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya. Igniting earthen lamps is a common practice during Diwali. People create different shapes and images using a bouquet of these lamps. Crackers are fired all over the country since it is believed that burning crackers scares away the evil spirits.
Diwali in South Africa
South Africa is a wonderful mix of multiple cultures and religions, dwelling in together with minimum friction. The nation has the largest immigrant Indian population on the planet, which is close to a million. Indian population residing in South Africa is mainly concentrated in areas like Natal and Transvaal. Diwali is celebrated in these neighbourhoods along with many other Indian festivals like Holi, Eid and Baisakhi. The festivities followed by the Indian community here are more or less similar to that of India.
Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago
Located on the southern end of West Indies, Trinidad, the land of Hummingbird, is one of the most colourful places you will ever encounter in your life. There is considerable number of Hindus in the area and Diwali is their principal festival. The day is marked as an official holiday and is celebrated in traditional manner. The National Council of Indian Culture which is placed in a locality called Diwali Nagar takes up the responsibility of making sure that people can enjoy the festival to the fullest.
Diwali in Australia
When Diwali season arrives, the Hindu community residing in Australia becomes super excited. The festival is celebrated here by organising a series of big and small events. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne always take the lead in kicking off the celebrations in the grandest of fashions. People start decorating their houses days in advance. New clothes are bought for all the members of the family. In markets, you will see special decorative items. Food stalls with assorted sweets and savouries makes sure people put on at least a couple of pounds during the festival!