Walking along the Thames at night is where I really fell in love with this city. It was 2004 and I was here on a study abroad programme. It was an Autumn night, quiet except for the distant sounds of boat parties and someone playing guitar. It was magical and peaceful and I was hooked.
K and I went to Southall last night in search of a good Diwali atmosphere and we certainly found it. I was surprised that my Indian boyfriend had never celebrated the holiday there, so it was a new experience for both of us which made it even better.
All we did was wander down different streets, but everyone was out in their front gardens lighting off fireworks in the streets. Stepping out of Southall station, you are on top of a hill and surrounded by firework displays in every direction. Incredible. If you closed your eyes, it was easy to picture yourself in the middle of a war zone…. and some of the streets we walked down felt like one too! Here’s a photo of a gorgeous temple and below some videos that don’t quite capture the full magic of it, but they’re an idea.
Diwali is called the Festival of Lights. It’s meant to signify light overcoming darkness in different religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, jainism, Sikhism, etc. Of course, like most holidays, it’s a time when people get together and socialise and eat. It’s more religious for some people than others. Diyas, which are small clay pots filled with oil and a long lit candle wick are lit, or just candles. In Hinduism, the lights are a reminder of the story of Rama, an exiled deity who returns to his home along a lamplit pathway….There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist of it.