I love Diwali. It is one of those wonderful celebrations that have moved beyond its origins and can be enjoyed by anyone. Like Christmas, it has become a festival that brings joy and spiritual meaning to all, regardless of their faith or origin. The victory of spiritual light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil has meaning to all.
On a more prosaic level, the lights and fireworks of Leicester at Diwali are a delight to children of all ages – I include myself in that. And it gives us an excuse to make our way to Belgrave Road to tuck into the treats and snacks that are an integral part of Diwali. The youngsters might want to indulge their sweet tooth on jalebi, but I’ve always been a savoury man so it is samosas, pakoras or kachori for me – and the more the merrier.
This year, of course, things are going to be very different.
There will be no bright lights or fireworks, and we won’t be going to Belgrave Road. That is deeply disappointing for us, and must be even more so for those for whom Diwali is a religious event as well as a spectacular celebration. And there will be many restaurants and other businesses who rely on Diwali to bring in customers and promote sales. The lockdown will do the economy of Leicester no good at all, and there could be a real danger that the loss of the “festival of light” could cast the gloom of depression over many.
But all is not lost. Visit Leicester has announced that there will be a packed schedule of on-line events instead. The aim is to help bring people together for an experience they can share with loved ones and friends wherever they are in the world.
Before the day itself, you are able to send in a personal video message for family and loved ones you won’t be seeing this year. You can shoot a 30 second message on your phone video camera, then email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. As many of these will be broadcast on the day itself, and others in the days leading up to it.
As well as these personal messages there will be music, dance, storytelling and footage of fireworks and other stunning events from previous years. You can find out more on the Visit Leicester website - https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/diwali-p704841. And as the day draws closer, more details will be released.
It won’t be the same, of course, but with a bit of luck and a positive attitude, Diwali this year should be fun and will certainly bring the family together. We will get some takeaway food in, switch on the virtual Diwali celebrations and get set to enjoy ourselves.
I will [sort of] see you there.
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