If there was ever a festival to celebrate our cultural diversity, it's the Diwali festival in Leicester
Diwali celebrations in Leicester
Leicester’s spectacular city comes alive to celebrate Diwali and the Festival of Light, with theatre performances, craft activities, parades, exhibitions and of course, mouth-watering food.
All faiths and races join in with the festivities, with thousands coming along to see the light switch-on, and even more attending the culmination of cultural celebrations on Diwali Day.
Diwali in Leicester is a huge, cultural celebration
Diwali celebrations in Leicester are famously some of the best in the UK and with crowds in excess of 45,000, it's probably the biggest outside of India. The fantastic Diwali lights brings the Golden Mile alive. Diwali in Leicester is a huge, cultural celebration enjoyed by people who have come from far and wide to see the thousands of decorative Diwali lights, enjoy spectacular firework displays and see homes, temples and gurdwaras all illuminated.
An explosion of fireworks and over 6,000 lights, twinkling against the night sky.
Two weeks of cultural celebrations, including Bollywood dances, music performances and Indian feasts. This is a street party like no other – tens of thousands of people of all faiths attend the switch on of the lights on the Golden Mile, and even more come along on Diwali day itself to experience the buzzing street atmosphere, be dazzled by colourful fashion and gold jewellery shops and indulge in the mouth-watering food on offer from some of the country’s finest Indian restaurants. The Diwali Village caters for young and old of all communities, welcoming everyone to celebrate the Festival of Light in Leicester.
What is Diwali?
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains every autumn between mid-October and mid-November. It signifies new beginnings, the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali, which for some also coincides with harvest and new year celebrations.
It has a rich social and cultural heritage of legends and customs that include religious ceremonies, decoration of homes and temples, time with family and friends, feasting and exchanging gifts. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning "rows of lighted lamps".
Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called Diyas. People also enjoy fireworks and sweets too, so it's really popular with children.
“For the Asian community, the festival of Diwali is not only of religious significance. It has given a sense of pride, a sense of being able to share with a wider cross section of people the sense of sharing the light. The spirit of Diwali can be shared with everybody.”
A modern, cross-cultural celebration
Leicester today has what is regarded as the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India. It is a huge multi-agency operation that takes months to plan.
As well as 6,500 lights all along Belgrave and Melton Roads there is a huge events programme collectively recognised as “Diwali Leicester”. Around 50 separate events are now spread across the city over a two-week period. It includes music, dance and live performances in a variety of venues, all ending in a spectacular firework display.
The celebrations now reflect a new age, a stronger community and a greater ambition for a festival with an international reputation.
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