The Hindu religious holiday of Diwali, also called Deepavali or the “Festival of Lights”, is not an official public holiday in the United Kingdom. But it is has nonetheless grown in significance in the UK as the number of Indian immigrants has increased over the years. Today, there are private and public Diwali festivals held all over the United Kingdom.
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Diwali is always celebrated between mid-October and mid-November in the western calendar, depending upon the lunar cycle each year. During the Festival of Lights, many people of South Asian descent light traditional lanterns at night and attend special Hindu services.
The Festival of Lights is a colourful and happy celebration. Families prepare their homes and themselves for the special festivities that symbolise the victory of spiritual goodness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Fireworks displays are set off to drive away evil, oil lamps are lit, flower garlands are made, candles float in bowls of water outside homes and sweets are shared as part of the festivities.
The centre of UK Diwali celebrations is London, which has a large Hindu population. Trafalgar Square sees tens of thousands of attendees each year. The streets are brightly lit for the Festival of Lights, and they are also lined with food stalls selling South Asian cuisine, craft stations, and henna palm decorating booths.