They are referred to as the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India but this year the city of Leicester in the UK will be marking the festival of lights virtually, in keeping with the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Leicester City Council said that with strict measures in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, crowds will not be gathering on Belgrave Road this year for the traditional entertainment and fireworks.
But instead Leicester residents and others are being invited to be part of the city’s first virtual “Diwali Day” celebration from the “safety of their homes.”
“We all need to find different ways to celebrate important festivals like Diwali and Christmas this year. 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,” said Leicester’s Indian-origin Deputy City Mayor, Councillor Piara Singh Clair.
As part of the celebrations for Diwali Day on November 14, people can send in their personal video messages, which could feature in an hour-long package of entertainment that will be streamed on the Visit Leicester portal.
People are being encouraged to use their video to wish a friend, or a family member, a Happy Diwali – or they could share their tips for a socially-distanced, yet joyful, Diwali celebration with people around the world.
“We hope that people will enjoy recording their messages, and we look forward to sharing as many of them as possible as part of our Diwali Day programming,” added Singh Clair.
Alongside the video messages, the Diwali Day program will feature music, storytelling and dance – as well as the traditional lighting of the diyas or lamps. And while there will be no fireworks this year, footage of the “spectacular displays” from previous years will be included in the virtual event.
The local council said that although the city’s Diwali celebrations will be very different this year, one familiar feature will be back on Belgrave Road – referred to as the Golden Mile for its string of jewelry stores, largely owned by British Gujaratis.
“The giant Wheel of Light will open to the public – with stringent measures in place to keep people safe – on Friday,” the council statement said.
“This year, to make sure the site is Covid-secure, temperature checks will be carried out, customers will be required to wear face coverings when queuing, and they will also be asked to sanitize their hands before and after their ride. The cabins will be sanitized after each use,” it said.
In keeping with the local lockdown restrictions on social mixing, only members of the same household or support bubble will be able to share a cabin on the giant amusement ride. (PTI)