Most Londoners are not Hindus, so their experience of Diwali has been much the same as usual this year. It takes the form of hearing and seeing other peoples’ fireworks as they explode across the capital’s sky. The proximity of the Festival of Lights to Bonfire Night ensures that the first half of November in London is a more or less unbroken fortnight of firework action, as the pyrotechnics of the two celebrations overlap under the mantle of deepening autumn nights – a metaphor, perhaps, for our city’s astoundingly evolved diversity.
But for its main participants, who also include, in distinctive ways, London’s Sikhs and Jains, Diwali 2020 has, as elsewhere, been in many ways a digital affair. Plenty of friendly incendiaries have been fired from gardens and, some window observers of my acquaintance, suspect, from streets and parks – they are still being fired, within easy earshot, as these words go live – but large gatherings, outlawed by the second lockdown, have been transported to the virtual realm.
The annual Diwali event in Trafalgar Square, took place entirely online this year, rather early on 1 November. The Diwali in London committee presented The Five Days of Diwali on YouTube and Facebook. The Mayor and the chair of the London Assembly have sent Diwali greetings. Willesden Temple, Kingsbury Mandir and Tate Britain have risen to the occasion. Meanwhile, the Square shines with hope for a happier Diwali next year.
OnLondon.co.uk exists to provide fair and thorough coverage of the UK capital’s politics, development and culture. It depends greatly on donations from readers. Give £5 a month or £50 a year and you will receive the On London Extra Thursday email, which rounds up London news, views and information from a wide range of sources. Click here to donate directly or contact email@example.com for bank account details. Thanks.