As you scroll down your annual list of holidays, Dussehra can be checked of the calendar. But that means Diwali is just around the corner! As you prepare for the Festival of Lights and accompanying food coma, here’s a little fact to digest as well. Diwali is easily our most famous export, what with the festival being celebrated with enough dhoom-dhaam in these countries.
Our neighbour takes Diwali just as seriously as we do. Known as Tihar, festivities in Nepal last for five days. Locals worship not just Goddess Laskhmi but also animals including cows, dogs and crows and communities gather to dancing and go door-to-door to exchange food or money. Bhai Tika (aka Bhai Dooj), is also celebrated with gusto across the Himalayan country.
Considering the many references made to Sri Lanka in the Ramayana, Diwali here has a special significance. Locals make figures from sugar crystals known as Misiri during this time, they also light up their homes and burst crackers. The country’s rich cultural heritage can be experienced in all its splendour during this season. It’s worth a trip across the Palk Strait.
Considering the colonial hangover that the Brits left us with, it’s rather satisfying to know that everyone joins in when Indians, who make up the second-largest ethnic community in Great Britain, celebrate Diwali with great pomp despite the freezing temperatures. Cities including Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester light up and London’s Trafalgar Square is usually the site of a big, fat Diwali party.
Beautiful paper lotuses during Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square, London
Diwali is not celebrated with sound but with light – as it is meant to be done – in Thailand. Called Lam Kriyongh, it’s celebrated with the lighting of lamps made from banana leaves. These lamps hold candles, a coin and incense, which are set afloat in the closest river. More peaceful than loud and extravagant, Lam Kriyongh a great occasion to experience anyway.
With historical ties to India, South Africa also has one of the largest Indian immigrant population across the world. Most Indians in the country settled in the eastern part of the country, and can trace their roots to Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. So of course, the celebrations here are as colourful as in India.
Trinidad and Tobago
Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas and San Fernando are just some of the must-visit places for anyone going Trinidad and Tobago during Diwali. Considering that close to half the population of this Caribbean island is of Indian origin, Diwali is a special – it’s even an official holiday.
Considering that Canada has a strong and vibrant Indian community, the festivities are vibrant. If Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Ontario then, he might feel transported to India. We’re betting a video of Trudeau dancing to some Diwali tunes will hit the Internet soon thereafter.
Diwali celebrations at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan mandir in Toronto, Canada
Again, this island nation is home to a large Indian population. So a visit to Little India on Serangoon Road is like stepping into a fairy-land, with lighted roads and houses everywhere, mithais and garlands assaulting your senses at every turn and fuljaris being lighted at night on open roads. Truly an incredible experience.
Trust the locals of Japan to be weirdly wonderful! The Japanese celebrate Diwali by going out into their gardens and putting up colourful lanterns and decorating trees. Places of worship get new wallpaper and the indomitable spirit of the locals comes to the fore as they look as the festival as a time of prosperity, progress, happiness and longevity.
Let’s first tell you where Suriname is. This tiny country is nestled on the northern boundary of Brazil on the South American continent. Now the fun part – the country has its own version of Bhojpuri, called Sarnami, and these ethnic Indians love Diwali as much as you and me. With no tourist infrastructure to speak of as such, it can be a memorable Diwali if you manage to catch the festival in the smallest country in South America after surmounting all the bureaucratic hurdles.
Like this article? Also read: Why You Should Head To Mysuru For Dussera
Cover Image Courtesy: ; Images courtesy: By everheardofaspacebar (originally posted to Flickr as A dash of colour) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.