This year the 14th November marks Diwali. Each year the festival falls in either October or November, depending on the cycle of the moon. Growing up, public fireworks marked the special day each year for me. Diwali/ Deepali is a Sanskrit word and means ‘rows of light lamps,’ many of you may have seen Rishi Sunak marking the occasion by lighting ‘diyas,’ outside Downing Street for the first time in British history. Where I grew up in the UK, everyone from all backgrounds and walks of life (and I mean all backgrounds) would crowd the streets and walk towards the centre of town where fireworks would be lit and memories would be made. Babies would cry, couples would rejoice and families would stand huddled together. This year, marks the first year in my memory that there won’t be a public in person celebration across the city.
This year, Diwali festivities will likely result in more intimate family gatherings alongside online celebrations as both India and countries that are home to the South Asian diaspora live through the coronavirus pandemic at this special time of year. I cant help but turn my thoughts to India, which has reported more than 8.6 million COVID-19 cases and more than 129,000 deaths. Diwali, like other festivals are a constant, they come around each year and don’t stop or wait for anyone or anything. However each year the circumstances are not a constant and for many this Diwali will certainly be one like no other. A time of year where family are held dear and intimate gatherings are at the core, is met with the urge for distancing. A quote from an Indian doctor back in March circulated across social media pointing out that ‘social distancing is a privilege,’ and I can’t help but remember this during ‘Lockdown 2.0.’
This week I’ve been reminiscing about how as a child, this time of year was full of me running around our garden with sparklers in both hands not wanting the spark to die out. Remembering and appreciating previous celebrations, has never been more important- as last year we all expected to do it all again this year, but instead, its anything but the same. That said, I’m left with a whole lot of gratitude, candles and plenty of memories and wish everyone (whether you’re celebrating or not) a very Happy Diwali!
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