June, Caroline and I ran a family workshop in the Glanfa area of Wales Millennium Centre yesterday as part of the Diwali celebrations in partnership with Wales Tamil Sangam. Many families came to have a go at making cards using beautiful autumn leaves, bubble wrap to print borders, and styrofoam to etch images decorating with glitter paste and pens. Some of the children told us they were going to perform Bharatanatyam dance on the Glanfa stage and wore beautiful glittering clothes of exquisite colours. There was traditional Indian food, speeches and a warm positive atmosphere to celebrate the festival of lights. It was wonderful to hear Welsh, Punjabi, Hindi and other languages throughout the day.
Diwali is the five day Festival of the Lights and is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains. it is one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture and houses and shops are traditionally decorated with candles and lights to represent the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead. Traditional earthenware lights called diyas are lit which are said to help Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes and doors and windows are left open so she can enter. Families and friends share sweets, dried fruit and gifts and many give to those less fortunate and in need.
Rangoli artwork is also created: patterns using coloured rice or powder, often a lotus flower as Lakshmi is usually depicted sitting in or holding a lotus.