We joined the Oxford Hindu Temple at their annual celebration of the Festival of Lights this year in the form of a free, virtual Oxford Diwali.

  • 3 Nov, 7pm – Puppet show depicting the Diwali story by Neelima Penumarthy
  • 4 Nov, 7pm – Ganesha & Diya clay workshop with Steve Empson
  • 5 Nov, 7pm – Lakshmi Pooja
  • 6 Nov, 7pm – Bollywood Interactive Dancing with Jay Kumar

What is Diwali?

Colourful painted detail of Krishna and Radha seated

Krishna and Radha at Diwali, a detail from a 19th century gouache painting (EA2003.29)

The Hindu festival of Diwali (or Dipavali: 'row of lamps') is celebrated throughout India in the month of Kartika (October-November) and lasts for five days.

On the first day, the goddesses Parvati and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) are invited to bring blessings and prosperity to homes and businesses. On the second day, dice games are often played. The third day, the full moon, commemorates Vishnu's victory over the demon king Bali, and further worship of Lakshmi takes place. On the fourth day, the real Diwali, numerous little clay oil-lamps are lit and laid in rows along the walls and terraces of houses, to mark Rama's triumphal return to Ayodhya at the end of the Ramayana epic. On the fifth day, named after Yama, ruler of the dead, men of the household customarily dine with their sisters or other female relatives and receive presents.