Diwali is not exclusive to India, but many other countries in the world see their Hindu communities light up their homes for the festival of lights! Check out 9 countries other than India where Diwali is celebrated!
1. Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Hindu Community celebrates the festival according to customs which are very similar to the Tamils in India. Lankans have a different variation of the festival where they do not celebrate Lord Rama’s victory over Lanka’s Ravan, but rather as the victory of good over evil. It is a common sight to see the Hindu communities dressing up in vibrant new clothes and exchanging gifts and sweets. Homes are cleaned before the festival as Goddess Laxmi is said to arrive, bringing along good fortune and harmony in relationships. Celebrations also include the bursting of firecrackers.
The country of Fiji hosts a significant population of Hindu Diaspora. Diwali is officially a public holiday in the country. The festival helps Hindus bond with each other, strengthening their community and celebrating their heritage. Other communities and faiths in the multicultural society of Fiji are also known to be a part of and adore the celebrations. Schools organize Diwali functions and competitions for students like rangoli and art competitions just like in India.
Diwali is a public holiday in the multi-ethnic country of Mauritius, which hosts the third-largest Hindu population in the world. On the festival, people often light their homes, exchange gifts, and decorate their floors, doorsteps and courtyards with rangolis made with rice flour which also acts as food for birds and insects. There is a firework display at the end of the festival, but sparklers are lit throughout the festival by children.
Diwali in Malaysia is a time for family reunions in the Hindu communities. In preparation for the festival, which is also a public holiday, huge crowds gather at Brickfields, also called Little India, to buy sarees, bangles, sweets, savories, traditional Indian outfits, and Diwali Pooja and decoration essentials like lanterns, diyas, and Kolam, which is a type of rangoli made with colored rice and color powder.
Diwali is known as Tihar in Nepal and is majorly celebrated by the Indian Gorkha people. The country has the second-highest Hindu population in the world. The Nepalese celebrate the festival to worship the four creatures associated with the Hindu God Yama and Goddess Laxmi. Celebrations include lighting of the diyas inside and outside the homes. Firecrackers were a common sight in the past but have recently been banned because of the risks associated with them. The cutest sight is when children go from home to home singing songs and asking for gifts!
In Singapore, people arrange family and community feasts, share gifts, and perform poojas on the day of the auspicious festival. Celebrations are often monumental in Little India, with sparkling decorations, colourful garlands, incense lights and festive lights brightening up Serangoon Road also known as Little India.
Curious why Diwali is an official holiday in this South American country? This is because a major part of the population are Indians who migrated to the country over a century ago as indentured labourers and the community has flourished after the country’s independence. Once scarce and private, the celebrations in the flourishing community of Indians are quite a spectacle, with Hindus lining up diyas in their yard. There is also a Diwali motorcade when trucks are decorated as chariots and women dress up as Hindu Goddesses.
8. Trinidad and Tobago
Our traditions have also reached the Caribbean, with the Indians in Trinidad and Tobago celebrating the festival of Diwali every year. The most popular celebration takes place in Divali Nagar, which is the first Hindu theme park in the world. It is known to be the hub of Diwali celebrations in Central Trinidad, where decorations, activities, festive rituals, and worship are performed.
Although not all of Indonesia celebrates the festival owing to the scarce Hindu population in the country, the island of Bali, where the majority of locals are Hindus and people of Indian descent, is known to observe the festival with crackers, new clothes, and sweets. What makes the celebration special is that you often get to see people release floating lanterns in water bodies, honoring the victory of good over evil and keeping evil spirits at bay while they worship Goddess Laxmi.