Diwali 2021: What is Diwali and where to celebrate in Edinburgh

Celebrations for the festival of lights in Edinburgh are just around the corner.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 1:16 pm

The winter months are full of various festivals that are celebrated by religions and nations around the world.

One of the first is Diwali, a Hindu festival that also marks the Hindu New Year.

There have been official Diwali celebrations held in Edinburgh since the 1950s, and this year is no different.

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Celebrate the festival of lights in Princes Street Gardens this year. Photo: Udayaditya / Pexels / Canva Pro.

Here’s all you need to know about Diwali and where you can celebrate in Edinburgh.

What is Diwali?

Also known as the festival of lights, the timing of Diwali dates back to its origins in India, when the Indian summer season and monsoon rains give way to cooler evenings.

This is when the festival season in the Hindu calendar begins in earnest.

Diwali is one of the highlights, with different regions across India having their own unique celebrations.

The event is linked to the ancient legend of Hindu god, Lord Rama, who was stripped of his kingdom and sent into exile for 14 years.

Diwali celebrates Rama’s eventual triumph over the evil spirit Ravana and his triumphant return to his home.

It’s thought to be a good time of year to start new business ventures.

Young couples and new families also place special importance on celebrating their first Diwali together.

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When is Diwali?

The date of Diwali changes each year, as it’s dependent on the Hindu lunar calendar.

It’s traditionally celebrated on a moonless night on October or November.

This year, it will take place from November 2nd to November 6th, with Diwali night, the third and most important day of the festival, falling on November 4th.

How is Diwali celebrated?

In India, Diwali is celebrated with a five-day festival, featuring various different ceremonies on each day.

The third day is the main event of the whole festival, also known as Diwali night.

Most Hindus will offer prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the god representing good fortune and wisdom, on this day.

Towards the end of the five days, sweet offerings are placed in front of deity statues.

Small clay lamps known as diyas are also placed inside and outside homes, giving Diwali its name as the festival of lights.

The aim of these lamps is to attract the goddess Lakshmi’s attention and guide her towards these twinkling lights, in the hope of gaining blessings for prosperity in the year ahead.

Diwali celebrations in Edinburgh 2021

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh has sponsored an initiative in Edinburgh for the last five years now, to celebrate the festival of lights in the Scottish capital.

This year, the Diwali celebrations in Edinburgh will take place Sunday November 21st in Princes Street Gardens.

It’s sponsored by Culture Edinburgh and Edinburgh City Council, along with other corporate partners.

Celebrations usually include Hindu dancing, light displays, and traditional food for attendees.

The events are organised by the charity, Edinburgh Diwali, headed up by a panel of volunteers who organise the celebrations themselves.

Although Diwali in other areas of the world is often celebrated across several days, the festival of lights in Edinburgh is on just one day.