Virtual Diwali takes place as revellers find alternative ways to celebrate

By Emily Chudy, PA
·4-min read

People have taken to the internet to celebrate Diwali as England remains under lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19.

Though indoor gatherings outside of support bubbles are not permitted under Covid-19 restrictions, revellers have used video calls, dance, and photos to celebrate this year’s festival of lights.

Floating flower display unveiled to mark Diwali
A Rangoli-inspired installation made of floating flowers is unveiled in the Jubilee Park fountains in Canary Wharf to mark Diwali (Jeff Spicer/PA)

Himanshi Upadhyaya, a student at the University of Derby, told the PA news agency that she and her family will be celebrating over Zoom.

“Usually, I have friends over for a Diwali feast and games but this year I am preparing a feast for myself because I live alone and we’re in a lockdown,” she said.

“I will be celebrating over Zoom calls with family and friends.”

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Ms Upadhyaya said she was planning to visit family in India for Diwali, but is now hoping to visit in January instead.

“I did expect some restrictions to be in place,” she told PA.

“I am usually at different locations for Diwali but this year I was expecting to visit my family in India as I haven’t visited them in around two years now.

“The expectation of being home for Diwali made me feel all charged up against all odds during the last few months.”

(Freya MacKenzie)
(Freya MacKenzie)

Freya MacKenzie, a student at the University of Glasgow, ate a meal with two of her flatmates who celebrate Diwali.

Ms MacKenzie, 18, said her student halls forbid the use of lanterns and candles, however they were able to cook “authentic, homemade Indian food” together.

“My flatmates and I only met in the middle of September… it was really heart-warming to see a bunch of people from around the world come together and cook a meal for a holiday some of them hadn’t even heard of before this,” she told PA.

“It was my first time celebrating Diwali and I had to say, the food was very good! Plus, every celebration could do with a little more light.”

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Author and NHS doctor Dr Amir Khan celebrated by posting a dance video on Twitter, stating that this year’s celebration is “different to normal”.

“I want to say a MASSIVE Happy Diwali to everyone celebrating today,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I know it will feel different to normal but we are hopeful… Diwali is all about the victory of light over darkness, something we want to see more than anything right now.”

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During the five days of Diwali, Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs traditionally illuminate their homes and work spaces with candles and lanterns.

One of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar, Diwali is celebrated to symbolise the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.

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

Mr Khan said on Twitter: “Whilst it is difficult to not be together with loved ones, let us draw strength from the story of Rama and Sita, which teaches us light will always triumph over darkness, and hope over despair.”