Diwali – Countries that celebrate Diwali across the World
Diwali – Countries that celebrate Diwali across the World
Diwali is India’s biggest festival and is celebrated with great enthusiasm around the country. One would be surprised to know that we are not the only ones who celebrate Diwali but there are many other countries which celebrate Diwali. While the UK and the US are two other countries where Diwali is celebrated on a large scale thanks to the presence of a large Indian population, Diwali is a more recent addition to the culture of these two superpowers. Besides these two there many other countries which celebrate the Diwali with as much enthusiasm, let us know which one they are –
Our neighbour take Diwali just as seriously as we do. Known as Tihar, festivities in Nepal last for five days. In fact, some Nepalese even refer to it as “Deepawali”.
While each Hindu ethnic group in Nepal celebrates Tihar in slightly different ways, the main outlines remain the same everywhere. The season is called “the Festival of Lights” after the clay lanterns (“diyas”) that are lit and stacked around houses every night. People use pigmented rice, flour, sand, and flower petals to make “rangoli,” which are decorative patterns on the floors of homes and outdoor areas. They are meant to honour and welcome various Hindu gods and goddesses to the home. Also of high importance is the honouring of various animals during Tihar, which will be mentioned in more detail just below.
On the five days of Tihar, the following traditions are commonly practiced in Nepal:
The first day is dedicated to cows, who are fed and prayed to. The second day is in honor of dogs, who are fed specially-prepared delicious meals. Lanterns and lamps are lit on the third day of the festival to signify the victory of lord Rama. The fourth day is dedicated to the lord of death, Yama and finally the fifth final day, known as Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
Considering the many references made to Sri Lanka in the Ramayana, Diwali here has a special significance. Owing to a large number of Tamil inhabitants in the country, Diwali celebrations are pretty much like the celebrations in Tamil Nadu. Like in India, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped, houses are illuminated with traditional earthen lamps, and people enjoy sumptuous traditional delicacies and set off firecrackers.
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.
The diversity in Thailand provides a starting point for people living there, to understand and value the many distinct cultures of the world. Diwali is celebrated in Thailand under the name of Lam Kriyongh during the months of October-November. The festival is similar to celebration to Diwali. Diyas (lamps) made of banana leaves are made and candles are placed on it along with a coin and incense. These are set afloat on a river, which gives a wonderful view together on the water. The Diwali festival is not an extravagant affair. People greet each other and wish them happy returns of the day. Distribution of sweets is a common practice on Diwali day. Diwali is not celebrated with sound but with light – as it is meant to be done – in Thailand. 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.
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.
Suriname is a 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.
Even though the Hindu population in Indonesia is barely a few thousand in number, Diwali here is celebrated with much fanfare. The Indonesian island of Bali has a large Indian diaspora and is where the celebrations are the loudest. Diwali in Indonesia involves shopping for crackers, clothes and sweets, greeting family and friends, releasing floating lanterns along with performing various rituals, similar to those performed in India.
Diwali, also known as Hari Diwali in Malaysia, is celebrated almost all over the county. The festival begins with the traditional ritual of bathing in oil before dawn, following which prayers are said and visits are made to temples. Malaysia observes a public holiday on the day and even though fireworks are banned here, the brilliantly lit-up streets and houses make up for its absence of fireworks.
Just as in India, Fiji celebrates Diwali with enormous zeal. People shop new clothes, exchange gifts and sweets with their loved ones, clean their houses and beautify their homes with numerous decorations and lights. Various schools and universities also host Diwali parties.
The Republic of Guyana in South America celebrates Diwali as per the Hindu calendar and also observers a national holiday. The origin of the festival in Guyana dates back to around the early 1980s and holds a special significance for its Hindu community. The celebration, like in all other parts of the world, includes distribution of sweets, illuminating houses, visiting relatives and praying at temples. The distribution of sweet signifies the importance of sharing and the festival marks the triumph of good forces over bad.
Observed as a public holiday, Diwali in Mauritius is celebrated primarily by the Hindu community that forms over 50 per cent of the total population of the island. The festival not only marks the victory of Rama over Ravana but also commemorates the victory of Krishna over the demon king Narakasura. Earthen lamps are lit outside homes and colourful rangolis are drawn to celebrate the spirit of Diwali.