Lancashire’s Hindu community are celebrating Diwali this weekend as England remains under lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19.

With indoor gatherings outside of support bubbles not permitted many have used video calls, dance, and photos to celebrate this year’s festival of lights.

In Blackburn With Darwen the town’s Hindu Centre said they members had been celebrating a ‘virtual Diwali’

A statement from the Blackburn Hindu Forum said, “This year, as we are all affected by Covid-19, our members will celebrate a virtual Diwali, meaning we will still be able to see and speak to our close family and friends on various video platforms in our own homes. 

“We will still carry out Diwali decorations, drawing rangoli patterns near our entrances, lighting deevas in safe places, enjoy the festive food and of course letting off fireworks in our gardens at the end.

“The Hindus living in Blackburn & Darwen take this opportunity to wish the whole Community a very Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year”

The word Diwali has derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali meaning ‘Cluster of Lights’. It forms a five-day festival which includes the last three days of the Hindu calendar and the first two days of the New Year. 

Ashok Chudasama, Hindu Centre President explained, “Diwali is a major festival like Christmas. It celebrates the victory of good over evil based on the Hindu epic Ramayana.

“Thousands of years ago Lord Rama came home to Ayodhya in India after 14 years in exile. The whole town was so delighted that every house lit candles(deevas), cleaned and decorated their properties.

“They also drew coloured rangoli patterns near their entrances in time for His Coronation.”

Ahead to the festival Blackburn with Darwen Mayor Cllr Iftakhar Hussain has recorded a special message for everyone celebrating over the weekend.

There was a special message to all members of the community from Blackburn Rovers. The Blackburn Rovers Community Trust shared this image wishing all a 'Happy Diwali'.

A message from Burnley FC wished ‘all of our followers a very happy and prosperous Diwali!’

The University of Lancashire posted this message ahead of the festvial.

Communities celebrating Diwali were encouraged to celebrate the festival safely.

Lancashire Telegraph:

On Friday Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (Above) lit several candles outside 11 Downing Street for Diwali celebrations, while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told revellers to “draw strength” from traditional stories.

Trafalgar Square was lit-up (below) this weekend to celebrate the festival.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said last night, "While we can’t celebrate as we usually would, I want to remind you — there is hope. We will get through this and be together again. But in the meantime, these lights are for you."

Lancashire Telegraph:

(Below) People play with fireworks during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Prayagraj, India, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. Hindus across the country are celebrating Diwali where people decorate their homes with lights and burst fireworks. (AP/Rajesh Kumar Singh).

Lancashire Telegraph:

The festival is also a special time for Sikhs. Although the story of Diwali is celebrated for its spiritual significance, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Shor Divas (often translated as Prisoner Release Day and spelled in different ways) on Diwali.

This is the occasion of the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, who was freed from imprisonment in 1619. Guru Ji arrived home to His followers around the time of Diwali, which has long been a national holiday in India.