The festival of Diwali is being marked virtually across the UK as coronavirus restrictions keep many from celebrating in person with their loved ones.
With a nationwide lockdown being put in place in England to halt the spread of Covid-19, many councils have looked online to provide Diwali celebrations on Saturday.
Leicester City Council is asking revellers to send in video messages to be featured in its entertainment, while the West Midlands Combined Authority and Indian Consulate will be hosting an online event called Diwali on the Screen.
Leicester’s celebrations, which it claims are the “biggest celebrations of the festival of light outside of India”, will include footage of last year’s fireworks, as well as music, dance and the traditional lighting of the diva lamp.
“We all need to find different ways to celebrate important festivals like Diwali and Christmas this year,” deputy city mayor Councillor Piara Singh Clair said.
“Although we can’t meet up with our extended families in person this year, our virtual Diwali celebration will help bring people together for an experience they can share with a family member or a friend – wherever they are in the world.”
Similar outdoor celebrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff have been cancelled this year due to restrictions in Scotland and Wales, though digital events including performances and other cultural activities will also be held in their place.
For Diwali Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs traditionally illuminate their homes and work spaces with candles and lanterns.
One of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar, Diwali is celebrated to symbolise the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.
Canary Wharf in London has celebrated the festival with a Rangoli-inspired installation made of floating flowers unveiled in the Jubilee Park fountains on Monday.
London’s main Diwali celebration, which takes place in Trafalgar Square annually, has been cancelled with its celebration instead taking place online.
The approximately 30,000 people who attend each year will be invited to a free online event instead.
Sister Jayanti, the chair of Diwali in London Committee 2020, said: “This Diwali is going to be very different from all the others we have ever experienced. Yet I’m sure the spirit of Diwali will definitely be well and strong!
“Diwali is the celebration of light and so, coming at a time of darkness, when there seem to be many sad stories of bereavement, sickness and financial hardship all caused by a virus, we need to ensure that our inner light stays ignited.”
On Thursday evening Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak lit candles outside 11 Downing Street to mark the festival.