What do you know about Diwali? It's one of the biggest events in the Indian calendar. And that means big celebrations in multicultural cities in Britain, too. Find out all about the festival and how it is celebrated in Britain.


An Indian festival

Did you know that Diwali is one of the biggest events in the Indian calendar? It is celebrated around the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. In London, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leicester and other multicultural cities in Britain, British Asians celebrate Diwali. Celebrations include firework displays, Diwali lanterns, music, dancing, plays, as well as delicious traditional Indian food and sweets.

What does Diwali mean?

Diwali (or Deepavali) is also known as the Festival of Light. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit language and means 'row of lamps'. In South Asia, homes, shops and streets are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas. During Diwali, patterns, called rangoli, are drawn on floors. The lotus flower is one of the most popular patterns to draw. Diwali is celebrated every year on the darkest night of the month in October or November. The exact date changes every year to coincide with the new moon. With the new moon Diwali marks a new beginning and for many people it symbolises joy, love, reflection, resolution, forgiveness, light and knowledge. Diwali is traditionally a time for cleaning your home, decorating your house with lights and candles, wearing new clothes, painting henna tattoos on hands, giving presents, and getting together with family and friends.

Leicester and London

If you have ever visited London, the capital of England, you will know that it is a truly multicultural city where people of different ethnic groups and religions live, work, study and go to school. Depending on the time of year you can join in with celebrations for Christmas, Eid or Diwali in London’s Trafalgar Square. Diwali is celebrated every year in this world-famous square with Bhangra dancing around the fountains, vegetarian food sold at stalls, and free performances of South Asian contemporary and classical music and dance. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, helps to organise the annual event. He describes Diwali in Trafalgar Square as ‘a magical celebration’.

Leicester, in the north of England, has one of the most important Diwali celebrations outside of India. The Festival of Light in Leicester starts with a display of thousands of lights along Belgrave Road, also known as ‘The Golden Mile’. There is Bollywood singing and dancing. You can go late-night shopping and restaurants stay open late too. All this is followed by spectacular fireworks. Tourists, visitors and local residents are all welcome to enjoy the fun! Leicester’s Asian community say that this is the best (as well as the biggest!) Diwali celebration outside of India.


Is Diwali all about tradition? These days many people in the UK celebrate the Festival of Light with electric fairy lights instead of old-fashioned oil lamps. Instead of traditional gold and silver gifts, it is common to give money to put towards electronic gifts or iTunes credits. Shopping has changed too. Now many people buy their Diwali presents online rather than visiting a shop. Family and friends can communicate easily via social media and #HappyDiwali tweets spread the message of hope and light around the world.

Happy Diwali!

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Do people celebrate Diwali where you live? Tell us all about it!

You can also read this blog about how one family in the UK celebrates Diwali.


GeeklyChic18's picture
GeeklyChic18 16 April, 2016 - 14:41

I live in Georgia and we don't celebrate Diwali, we have other national celebrations, I think Diwali is very interesting and I'd like to be India during this event.

65 users have voted.
bookworm19's picture
bookworm19 29 November, 2015 - 04:14

i live in India ..diwali is more exiting festival for all Indian...it is the festival of lights..the reason for celebrating diwali to celebrate the victory good over evil..there is a interesting story behind diwali..lord krishna the incarnation of vishnu defeated a demon named narakasura...and there are more reason behind diwali.. we will wear new dress and burst more crackers
and share sweets...we all children will be more exited on this day..

76 users have voted.
AzulM's picture
AzulM 3 November, 2015 - 20:41

I live in a small town in the center of Argentina and the people don't celebrate Diwali here because we aren't Hindu. However I think in the big cities of the country like Buenos Aires there are some Diwali celebrations organised by the Hindu community, probably.

88 users have voted.
poppymoore's picture
poppymoore 22 June, 2015 - 14:51

For Hindus Diwali is the biggest event of the year.Though most of the myths and legends have already been here told people also worship the Hindu goddess of wealth on this day because it is believed in our tradition that she came into this world on this day.Worshipping her is suppossed to bring prosperity.Another thing is that there is no fixed date for Diwali in the Georgian calendar. Diwali sometimes falls in october and sometimes in november because the dates of Hindu vedic calendar differ from the Georgian calendar every year.But for me this day is the greatest celebration of the year exept that bursting fireworks are a hazard to the envoirnment. I wish people stop that. Lighting diyas,candles,lights nd real enthusiasm are enough to light up the dat of Diwali!

112 users have voted.
Ken's picture
Ken 22 June, 2015 - 22:08

I didn't know Diwali, such a pleasurable event is held every year! It's lovely to know about various cultures in the world! Thanks for the information, Poppymoore!

109 users have voted.
Sriram's picture
Sriram 27 October, 2014 - 04:48

In Singapore, Diwali is celebrated on 22nd October instead of 23rd October this year. I do celebrate Diwali and I really love it because we get to wear our new clothes, eat traditional Indian sweets and get to burn firecrackers on that day. There is actually a legend behind as to why we celebrate Diwali. In South India, an Indian god named Krishna killed a bad demon known as Narakaasura, who tortures people and make people suffer. Krishna is the one who brings joy and happiness to the people. That is why Diwali is celebrated and it is also a reason why we need to bathe using oil on Diwali early morning. In fact, I am proud to be a Hindu person!!!

188 users have voted.
PoetryKumari's picture
PoetryKumari 7 June, 2014 - 08:41

I celebrate Diwali. I live in India, and the celebrations are really spectacular! Children get new clothes and presents on Diwali, and family reunions take place. In India, we get a week's holiday for Diwali (The festival is spread over a period of 3 to 4 days). I like Diwali best of all Hindu festivals, because I get to have fun with all my friends and family.

Last Diwali, we had actually lined our whole street with oil lamps and flower garlands, and it looked so beautiful!

170 users have voted.
cklj's picture
cklj 9 January, 2014 - 22:30

People don't celebrate Diwali where I live, but I think this is interesting and I would like to experience this celebration.

205 users have voted.
Liselik's picture
Liselik 26 November, 2013 - 11:51

I live in Russia and we don`t celebrate Diwali. Oh I have not never known about it! I want to celebrate it. I think, it is very spectacular!

234 users have voted.
Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 15 November, 2013 - 14:32

I am not Indian, and this my first time when I heard about Diwali. It is nice, because every London man can celebrate their holiday. I think, London is like big star on Diwali. :)

211 users have voted.