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Ways to celebrate Diwali in lockdown London

The festival of lights is here

Written by
Alexandra Sims

Diwali, or the festival of lights, is celebrated every year in the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain calendars. Usually, it’s marked by humungous family feasts, dancing, fireworks, and – in London – a big party in Trafalgar Square. This year the five-day festival begins on Thursday November 12, with the main day of celebrations taking place on Saturday November 14. But, as we’ve become accustomed to in 2020, things are pretty different this year. But there’s no need for a nationwide lockdown to get in the way of the festivities. Here’s how to celebrate Diwali no matter what restrictions are in the way. 

Diwali cooking classes

If the ban on big family gatherings means you’ll be in charge of cooking your own Diwali feast for the first time this year, get a helping hand from these online cookery classes. Cyberspace culinary specialist Diaspo will be streaming free workshops to help people create tasty dishes to celebrate the festival of lights. Led by skilled home cooks, each with more than 30 years’ experience of making their traditional, generational recipes, the hour-long workshops will show you how to put together top-notch thali plates, pakoras, chai, samosas and chutney that’ll rival your grandma’s. There’ll also be workshops in rangoli, the colourful floor patterns that are made over the festival. Another thing to add to your portfolio of  lockdown hobbies. Until Nov 15. £10

Photograph: Diaspo


Dishoom delivery

Dishoom’s annual Diwali street-food party is legendary in London. It’s been cancelled this year for obvious reasons, but you can still get your fill of its signature East-West fusion naan rolls and zinging curries while its restaurants are shut. The London chain is now sending its biryanis, Ruby Murrays and house black daal straight to your door via Deliveroo. Or, you can play chef with its DIY bacon naan roll kits

Diwali Lights up Canary Wharf

It’s traditional over Diwali to light lamps and candles in homes, shops and public places – it is the festival of lights after all. In honour of this tradition, Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Park fountain is being filled with floating flower installations, each one inspired by rangoli patterns and lit up with a flickering candle. Head there after dark over the five days of the festival to see them glowing. Jubilee Park. Until Nov 15. Free.

Rangoli-inspired installation made of floating flowers
Photograph: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire/Canary Wharf

Tate Britain Winter Commission

Sure, all of London's museums and galleries are closed, but Tate Britain wasn’t about to let lockdown 2.0 get in the way of things. The museum’s new annual winter commission, unveiled this week, is a dazzling display of lights by Chila Kumari Burman taking over the front of the gallery to celebrate Diwali. It's an eye-popping patchwork of neons, Bollywood and glitter, and if that doesn't give you a little bit of cheer through lockdown, nothing will. Tate Britain. Nov 14th until the end of January. Free. 

Chila Kumari Sigh Burman winter commission at Tate Britain
Photograph: Tate, Joe Humphrys

Diu Kadia Nyati Samaj-UK Diwali Celebration 

Diwali is closely associated with the Hindu goddess of prosperity and symbolises the victory of light over darkness: basically, it’s the festival we all need right now. This online fest from Brent-based Hindu community group Diu Kadia Nyati Samaj will be broadcasting singing and dance performances straight to your living room via Facebook Live. That’s the entertainment covered, but it’s still up to you to light the candles and get the food in. Nov 14. Free.

Life doesn’t have to stop because we’re in lockdown. Plan a safe and fun weekend with our guide

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