Diwali: A light in the darkness

Today marks the start of the five days of Diwali, the festival of lights, with the main celebration happening on Saturday. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic means that things will have to be done a little differently this year.

Diwali is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance – something we can all very much appreciate right now.

To mark the festival, we’ve compiled together a range of useful information, advice and resources to ensure you have a safe and joyous Diwali!

Always follow the latest guidance and current restrictions

Please remember to follow the national COVID-19 guidance and lockdown restrictions at all times. In particular, for attending a place of worship:

  • Only individual prayer is allowed. There will be no led prayer or communal worship held.
  • You should only attend alone or with your household or support bubble, and you should avoid contact with other groups.
  • Face coverings should be worn when inside at all times and social distancing should be observed.
  • No food or drink should be provided by a place of worship for consumption.
  • Attendees should return home as soon as possible when they have finished praying to reduce social contact.

Please do not attend a venue for individual prayer if you are experiencing COVID symptoms or are otherwise required to self-isolate.

Check with your local temple before attending

If you are planning on attending a temple for individual prayer during Diwali, please check in advance the procedures that have been put in place to ensure the venue is COVID-secure. This can include, but are not limited to:

  • Specific hours assigned for individual prayer.
  • Having to register details in advance of attending.
  • A limit of number of attendees inside the venue to ensure social distancing.
  • One-way systems or other measures to help ensure social distancing.
  • Display of NHS app QR code and registration of contact details to aid track and trace.

If you’re involved in running a place of worship, here’s a great example of COVID-secure procedures, kindly provided by Bhaktivedanta Manor.

Stay healthy and prevent infection during Diwali

A number of organisations have produced useful resources in advance of Diwali, to help you stay healthy and reduce the spread of coronavirus:

Practice fire safety during Diwali

Due to the use of diya (oil lamps) and candles, fire safety is a major concern during Diwali. Various fire services across the UK have released advice and guidance for their safe use.

In particular, please DO NOT use alcohol-based hand santiser before lighting diya or candles as these are flammable. Instead, you should wash your hands using regular soap and water for 20 seconds.

Take part in online celebrations

With the current COVID restrictions and lockdown, the large public festivals that usually mark Diwali have had to be cancelled. However, this does not mean the celebration has stopped – many of these festivals are instead being held online instead. The following are just a sample of the bigger festivals; have a look online and see what’s happening in your area too!

Find new ways to celebrate from home

While lockdown means gatherings are currently impossible, that doesn’t mean the celebration has to stop. Here are some fun and inventive ways people are coming up with to bring back a little light in the darkness.