When is Diwali 2021? Dates of the festival of lights, what is the story and events in London

During Diwali, friends and family exchange gifts and cards with loved ones.

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Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists.

It falls during the Hindu lunar month Kartika, and takes place in the autumn between mid-October and mid-November in the Gregorian calendar.

In 2021, the main day of Diwali falls on 4 November.

But what is Diwali, and how do people celebrate it?

What is Diwali? 

Diwali is known as the festival of lights and symbolises a spiritual triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.

It is a five day festival and commences after the end of harvest to coincide with the new moon. Although it is five days long, the height of the festival is celebrated on the third day, which will be 4 November 2021. This coincides with the darkest day of the lunar month.

Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’, meaning ‘rows of lights’, reinforcing the spiritual aspect of this festival by lighting oil lamps, called diyas.

As this festival is so widely celebrated by billions of people around the world, it has no single origin story, but a running theme sees deities winning a battle against evil.

What is the story of Diwali?

In Hinduism, Diwali is widely associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity who is said to bring good fortune.

Other Hindus believe in the epic of Ramayana, where on the day of Diwali, deities Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman reached Ayodhya, a holy city in India, after 14 years in exile.

In Sikhism, Diwali celebrates the date of the release of the sixth Guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619.

Jains celebrate this date to commemorate when their founder, Lord Mahavira, reached a state of eternal bliss, which they call Moksha.

Although Diwali is not celebrated by a majority of Buddhists, Newar Buddhists use this day to also offer prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi.

How is it celebrated?

Diwali is prepared for in advance, with many people cleaning and decorating their houses in the lead-up to the festival.

Diwali is celebrated with joy, an abundance of sweets, and for some, fireworks with string lights dangling from their houses. Many towns celebrate together with neighbours throwing huge parties and celebrations.

Traditional celebrations include lighting diyas throughout workplaces and homes, as these oil lights act as a guidance for Goddess Lakshmi to find her way home. Some devotees leave their doors and windows open to invite Lakshmi to visit their homes.

The lights also act as a spiritual reminder that inner light can protect households from spiritual darkness.

Each day of Diwali holds its own significance, with the first day seeing people pray to Lakshmi, bake sweets and clean their homes to adorn in lights and flowers.

On the third day, people go to Temples to pray and honour Lakshmi, later gathering with their loved ones for celebrations and to light the lamps created on the first day.

For many people, the fourth day is a new year, where it becomes a chance to honour their siblings and exchange gifts and wishes.

Some Hindus, Sikhs and Jains will send Diwali greeting cards during the festive season, and may include a gift of Indian sweets to mark the occasion.

London Diwali events

October 24 Diwali Festival Douglas Avenue, Wembley - DJ, live singers and dancers, kids rides, light displays, activities and food stalls at this free event, with fun for all the family.

October 28 Dishoom presents Diwali 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane - Hyped Bombay restaurant chain Dishoom hosts this foodie Diwali festival bringing together South Asian talent from across the city for an evening of spoken word performances and live music. Tickets from £12.

October 30 Mangalam Diwali Mahotsava Tudor Park Sports and Leisure, Browells Ln, Feltham - Join Feltham in celebrating Diwali 2021, the Indian Festival of Lights, with non-stop family fun, shopping experiences and plenty of excitement.

October 31 Diwali: Festival of Lights Sutton Central Library, St Nicholas Way, Sutton - For the third year, Sutton Central Library invites its community to celebrate Diwali together. They’ll be putting on Bollywood dance workshops, cultural performances and more.

November 2 ‘A Life in Spice’ - Diwali Dinner, Cinnamon Kitchen, 9 Devonshire Square - Celebrated Indian chef Vivek Singh’s restaurant Cinamon Kitchen is celebrating Diwali with a special menu. Tickets cost £65.

November 2-30 Diwali in Harrow: A Celebration of Culture Headstone Manor and Museum, Pinner View, Harrow - To celebrate Diwali this year, we’re delighted to launch an exhibition which was kindly supported by London Museums Development Fund under their Diversity Matters Grant.

November 4 Diwali Festival Of Lights at Tooting Looking Glass Bright Horizons Tooting, 75 Macmillan Wy, Tooting Bec, London - Nadia and the team at Bright Horizons Tooting Looking Glass Day Nursery and Preschool invite you to celebrate Diwali festival of lights from 4pm -7pm. New and Existing families are all welcome to our open evening.

November 5 Diwali - Dinner and Dance Aroma, Yeading Lane, Hayes - Hayes Cultural Society presents Diwali Dinner and Dance.

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