At this time of year, millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists across the world have their biggest religious event of the year, known as Diwali, Deepavali, or the Festival of Lights.
Many of our customers will be celebrating, as well as colleagues and postmasters, with seasonal displays and promotions in many branches to mark the occasion.
We’ve spoken with Tony Sanghera, Regional Mains Sales Manager (North) and a member of the POEM (Post Office Ethnic Minorities) network, about what Diwali means to him.
Tell us what this festival is all about
“Diwali, or Deepavali is known as the Festival of lights. It’s about the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
It is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains worldwide, as well as some followers of newer Buddhism. It is an official holiday in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and many other countries”
How do you celebrate?
“Me and my family celebrate with lighting special lamps called Diyas and candles, decorating our home, shopping for gifts, fireworks displays, eating delicious feasts with many traditional sweets. Also with puja (our word for prayers) and by going to the Mandirs and Gurdwaras (temples).”
What foods are your favourites to enjoy, or traditional at this time?
“My favourite foods to enjoy at Diwali are samosas, Aloo Tikki (an Indian take on a potato fritter), Barfi (squares of a soft, crumbly sweet made from milk and sugar) and Laddoos (a sweet made from lentil flour, sugar and pumpkin seeds). “
If you like cooking, try this Samosa recipe
What does it mean to our local communities?
“One of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India is here in the UK, in Leicester. The Diwali lights in Leicester city centre were lit on Sunday 28 October 2018, over 40,000 people came to see them switch on 6,000, beautiful lights. Many postmasters in Leicester got behind this event, with special retail displays and greetings. MoneyGram have posters in bus shelters all over Leicester.”
The Leicester Diwali lights ceremony featured a moving speech by Keith Vaz MP, about the tragic loss of Leicestershire City FC Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium on 27th October. You can read it on Leicestershire Live. Our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.
•The word Diwali is from the Sanskrit word Dipavali, meaning ‘row of lighted lamps’.
•The date depends on the lunar calendar and position of the moon; this year it ends on 7 November. It also marks the start of the Hindu New Year.
•The five-day Diwali or Deepavali festival starts with Dhanteras, a celebration of wealth and light and ends with Bhai Dooj, a celebration of brothers and sisters.
•A new Bollywood film is released every year at Diwali, for families to enjoy together.
•For Sikhs, Diwali is important because it celebrates the release from imprisonment of their Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes, in 1619.
•In Jainism, Diwali marks the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira in 527 BCE and they also celebrate the Jain calendar New Year at this time.
In case you missed it… We shared Diwali greetings for postmasters to share on social media. Have a look, here.
Happy Diwali to all Post Office colleagues, postmasters and customers celebrating this special festival.