Although Diwali is predominantly an Indian festival that is celebrated in one or another form throughout the country, but with the world becoming a global village, this festival is now celebrated worldwide. The underling theme of this 'festival of lights' is that no matter how dense darkness is, light shall always find its way to eliminate it. This rings true in the hearts of all of humanity. The lighting of rows of diyas and candles and bustling of multicolored fireworks form a part of this marvelous festival. The Hindu population of various countries like Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Britain, Indonesia, Singapore, Africa and Australia are known to celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm and fervor. With a read through the following sections, explore how Diwali is celebrated in other nations.
Diwali in Britain
A large number of Indians have settled in Britain and make for the second largest ethnic minority of the country. To keep themselves and their families connected to their Indian roots, these people celebrate Diwali with exuberance and tradition. On this day, they visit the shrine of Goddess Laxmi near their places and perform traditional prayers. Like in India, Diwali is celebrated here according to the Hindu calendar in the months of October-November, which are the coldest and windiest months in Britain. Still the celebrations are carried out with immense zeal and houses are decorated with lights bulbs, diyas and candles.
Diwali in Guyana
The pristine country of Guyana, placed on the north-eastern coast of South America, was a former colony of Britain. Hence, a significant Hindu population resides here that makes almost 33% of its total population. It is believed that the festival of Diwali came to this country in 1853 with the first bonded laborers from India. The legends and ways of celebration of Diwali remain almost identical with the festivities carried out in India. Diwali enjoys the status of a national holiday in the official calendar of Guyana and is celebrated according to the Hindu Solar calendar.
Diwali in Indonesia
Though majority of Indonesian population follows Islam, but 2% belong to the Hindu religion and are mainly concentrated in the island of Bali. This island is known for its colorful Diwali celebrations as majority of its population constitute Hindus. Illuminating and cleaning of houses, distribution of sweets and wearing new clothes, along with offering prayers to Goddess Laxmi, form a significant part of Diwali celebrations here.
Diwali in Malaysia
The enchanting country of Malaysia is a wonderful mix of various ethnicities, which has made its culture vibrant and traditionally rich. Hindus make around 8% of the total population of this country. Here, Diwali is known as Hari Diwali and is celebrated in the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. One can clearly see South Indian influences on Diwali celebrations here, as oil bath is taken on the main day, besides visiting temples and lighting small clay lamps filled with coconut oil and wicks, to symbolize the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. Except for Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan, Diwali is celebrated all across Malaysia.
Diwali in Mauritius
The serene island of Mauritius lies in the Indian Ocean and around 63% of its total population is of Indian origin, of which 80% practice Hinduism. Thus, almost all Indian festivals are celebrated here with great zeal and enthusiasm. Diwali holds a special place in the hearts of the natives, who believe that the celebrations of this festival precede the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile. On this day, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped and firecrackers are lit to scare away the evil spirits.
Diwali in Nepal
Cradled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world. Here, Diwali is known as Tihar and its festivities continue for around five days. The festival, here, is dedicated to the worshipping of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha, similar to most of India. The first day of Diwali celebrations is dedicated to cows as they are believed to be Goddess Laxmi's incarnation. On the second day, dogs are fed lavish meals since they are believed to be the Vahana of Bhairava. On the third day, light bulbs and lamps are lit to illuminate the entire surroundings and firecrackers are burst. On the fourth day, the god of death is worshipped while on the fifth day, Bhhaya Dooj, a day dedicated to the warm relationship of a brother and sister, marks the end of the festivities.
Diwali in South Africa
South Africa has a strong over-a-million population of Indian origin, of which approximately around 65% are Hindus. Thus, Diwali holds a special place in the festival calendar of the region. Most of the Indians settled here belong to the Gujarati as well as Tamilian community and celebrate this festival according to their regional traditions followed back home in India. Natal and Transvaal see the grandest celebrations in the country.
Diwali in Fiji
Quite a large section of Fiji's population is of Indian origin, wherein Hindus make the majority. Therefore, most of the Hindu festivals are celebrated here with great zeal and fervor. Diwali is observed on a grand scale with non-Hindus also participating in its festivities. Diwali has been declared as a public holiday in Fiji. Besides the elaborate lighting and exchanging of gifts with loved ones, several cultural programs are also organized in the schools of Fiji to celebrate Diwali and emphasize on its social, cultural and religious aspects.
Diwali in Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago is the one of the most wonderful tourist destinations for sun, sand and surf lovers. This Caribbean island nation houses over 1.3 million population, of which 43% are of Indian ethnicity. As such, Diwali is celebrated in a big way here and has been granted the status of a national holiday. Most of the traditions and rituals followed during the Diwali celebrations are same as those practiced in India. The Diwali festivities continue for around a week and many ministers as well as government officials participate in the various functions organized to celebrate this occasion.