The Library of Birmingham has been lit up for Diwali celebrations, as thousands of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists from across the West Midlands celebrate the five-day ‘Festival of Lights’.

With more sombre celebrations this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the current national lockdown, many families are celebrating at home within their own households.

Diya tealights are a key part of Diwali, the 'Festival of Lights'Udayaditya Barua
Diya tealights are a key part of Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’

Yesterday evening, West Midland Mayor Andy Street was joined by the Consul General of India outside the city landmark to mark global festivities for those celebrating in the region.

Street and Dr. Shashank Vikram posed for socially distanced photographs outside the iconic building, which has been lit up with multicoloured rainbow lights, as fireworks were set off across the city lighting up the evening sky.

Library of Birmingham lit up for Diwali 2020 with West Midlands Mayor Andy StreetAndy Street
WM Mayor Andy Street and Consul General of India, Dr. Shashank Vikram, outside the Library of Birmingham

Launching local celebrations a week after taking part in the virtual Diwali on the Screen event, Street said:

“Normally when I’m thinking abut Diwali, I’m thinking about bright colours, festivities, candles, dance – dare I say indeed lovely food but most importantly families all coming together to celebrate together.

“And if I look over the last three years that I’ve been mayor, we’ve had the brilliant event Diwali on the Square and I’ve been out to different other festivities across the region. Usually topped by the Mela on the Soho Road.

'Diwali on the Screen' festivities took place online this year WMCA / Sampad
‘Diwali on the Screen’ festivities took place online this year

“But this year of course, is very different. We know that none of those events can happen but lots f them will still be happening virtually, so I hope you’ll be able to connect in, or example, Diwali on the Screen.

“But the meaning of Diwali is probably more poignant than ever before. All about that triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness – of looking forward together with positivity. And my goodness don’t we need that sense of positivity this year.

“So even if the lights may be dark in some of the places where we would have been meeting, certainly the spirit inside is not darkened in any way. So can I wish you all a happy Diwali and enjoy your modest celebration with your family.”

What is Diwali?

Diwali is known as the 'Festival of Lights'Mary Gaston
Diwali is known as the ‘Festival of Lights’

Diwali, known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, is marks goodness overcoming evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. but very few are aware of Navratri and Dussehra which proceed the Diwali celebrations.

Special days marking Navratri and Dussehra precede Diwali, making October and November busy periods for celebrations in the Hindu calendar.

In each of the festivals the goddesses play a significant role of creating harmony, love and peace.

Goddess Lakshmi is revered and celebrated during Diwali festivitiesSupplied
Goddess Lakshmi is revered and celebrated during Diwali festivities

In traditional lore, the defeat of Ravana, Rama and Sita return back to their people after 14 years of exile. The faithful continue to mark this by lighting rows of clay lamps to show the path home, which also signify the victory of goodness over evil and illumination over darkness.

Diwali –  also referred to as Deepavali or Divali – is seen as the start of a new year many Hindus who honour the Laxmi (Lakshmi), the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

For many Hindus, their year starts with prayers to Laxmi and finishes with prayers to goddesses Durga and Saraswati.

WATCH: How do young Brummies celebrate Diwali?

This year Diwali is being celebrated from 14 November with festivities being observed until 18 November.

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