Diwali is the name given to the five-day long festival of lights celebrated in autumn in India, and by Hindus, Sikhs, and some Buddhists around the world.
In 2020, Diwali Day, the final day of the celebration, falls on Saturday November 14th.
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It takes its name from the clay lamps or deepa (the event is sometimes called Deepawali) that many Indians light outside their home. With the days shortening in Germany, there's all the more reason to celebrate light, and for the country's Indian community in particular.
Currently there are about 100,000 Indians living in Germany, and nearly 175,000 people of Indian descent.
A diverse celebration
Exactly what is celebrated differs across India; for example, many northern Indians use the day to mark the return of King Rama to Ayodhya after defeating demon-king Ravana, while in southern India it marks the defeat of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna.
The festival lasts five days, with specific rituals and activities assigned to each day. They begin with cleaning your house on the first day and decorating it, usually with clay lamps and patterns of coloured sand, on the second.
The third day is when families meet for prayer and food, and the fourth day is seen as the start of the new year, with friends and relatives visiting each other with gifts. On the fifth and final day, it's traditional for brothers to visit their married sisters and for the sisters' family to welcome them with a meal.
Food is a major part of the celebrations, which originated as a way of marking the year's last harvest before winter.
Whether you belong to Germany's growing Indian community, or just want to take part in the colourful festivities, we break down how to celebrate the holiday in Germany, which this year has moved exclusively online due to the lockdown light.
Online celebrations throughout Germany
Every year the Amikal – Center for Educational and Cultural Exchange e.V. celebrates Diwali in Berlin. This year, however, it will be hosting an all-day online celebration on Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm.
Below is a sneak preview of the festivities, which is co-presented by Germany’s Indian Embassy. Despite being remote, it offers a diverse array of activities, from storytelling sessions for children to an Indian cooking demonstrations.
The Indian Association Dresden also usually puts on an elaborate light show and long-lasting party for Diwali. This year its moving the colour and cheerfulness online on November 28th between 4 and 6pm, complete with traditional music, dance performances, drama, as well as “a nice chat and infinite happiness,” say the organisers on their website.
The German Indian Society of Darmstadt-Frankfurt has also migrated its celebration online on Saturday, November 21st. The festivities will include a Kathak performance, a classic Indian dance style, by Deodatt Persaud.
Other German-Indian Associations throughout the country, such as the Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft Düsseldorf (DIG) have decided to postpone their festivities until 2021.
“Especially now in the difficult times of lockdown and Corona we miss our friends and families so much,” they wrote.
“Let's stay safe and celebrate the festival despite everything and share our happiness in silence this year. We need to help each other defeat this world pandemic.”