COVID-19: Lights won't go out on Hindu and Sikh festivals disrupted by coronavirus lockdown

·2-min read

For more than a million Hindus and Sikhs in the UK, November is an important part of the year - and they are determined not to let the pandemic spoil their fun.

While much of the population frets over what may happen at Christmas, Saturday's celebrations for Diwali and the Sikh festival of Bandi Chhor Divas face disruption from coronavirus lockdown.

Neasden Temple, a place of worship for Hindus, is one of the biggest in the UK and is preparing for a virtual Diwali.

Tarun Patel, spokesperson for the temple, said: "Normally, thousands of people would come to the temple to celebrate Diwali collectively. However, this year it's different.

"The temple will go into thousands of people's homes delivering a spiritual message and instilling hope, faith and confidence in people through these difficult times and with the hope that better times will return, and the temple will reopen, and we will collectively celebrate festivals again."

It's been a very difficult time for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, like the family of 67-year-old Vipin Bhatt, from Leicester.

His nephew Jaydev Vyas from Edgware in north London said: "We will meet up on Zoom or virtual meeting because of the current lockdown restrictions.

"Even places of worship like temples are closed. So, we will not be able to visit temple on the new year day or on Diwali day. I think everything is cancelled.

"So, it's a new way of celebrating Diwali, and we will miss the family get together, exchange of sweets. That part is really missing and that's most important."

This also is a time for celebrations for Sikhs, who would normally be preparing for Bandi Chhor Divas - another festival of lights also celebrated on Saturday night.

Sandeep Singh Daheley has an MBE for volunteering during the pandemic and is the founder of DigiSangat, a virtual space designed to help bereaved families during lockdown, which has been used to send 10 million prayers.

He said: "This year we're using a platform that we created at the beginning of the year, at the start of COVID so we'd be organising a large scale online event so Sikhs across the world can tune in, pray together, and just be together virtually."

Both communities are determined not to let the pandemic dim their light, and will celebrate the best they can with their household bubble.

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