Diwali: The light and soul of the party

Few Indian occasions come close to matching Diwali, the festival of lights, which takes place on November 3 this year

In the darkness of early winter, Denmark’s Indians choose to celebrate light instead. Diwali, or the ‘festival of lights’ as it is called, is one of the most important holidays on the Indian calendar. The festival takes place on the night of a new moon when the sky is at its darkest, celebrating the triumph of good and light over evil and darkness.

As Kannathasan Pandian, the president of the Indians in Denmark association, explained, honouring Indian heritage is especially important for those who are living abroad. “Every Indian has roots embedded in the Indian tradition and culture,” he said. “We feel that in an era of globalisation and high mobility, Indians should celebrate the important festivals – even if abroad. When celebrating Diwali, we Indians are not only enjoying ourselves, but reinforcing the inheritance of Indian tradition and culture.”

Pandian pointed out, however, that the celebrations abroad aren’t quite the same as what one would find in India. “Celebrations abroad are very different from the home country. We celebrate according to the rules, regulations and convenience of the foreign country,” he explained, noting that it was important to strike a balance between traditions from home and integrating into Danish society.

“We take special care to make sure that our celebrations don’t disturb the sentiments or traditions of other cultures in a foreign country,” he pointed out. “Therefore we cease to celebrate in precisely the traditional way and adapt according to the new country.”

This year, Indians in Denmark plans to unite Indians from around the region for a celebration like no other. The festivities take place on Sunday November 17 at the Basak Saray banquet hall in Sydhavn and are open to association visitors and members alike. The afternoon kicks off at 16:00 with a reception and photo booth, before a cultural programme including traditional song and dance.

Afterwards, catch a show from Desi Beats, Indians in Denmark’s cultural performance troupe, who will hold their first ever performance at this year’s Diwali, followed by a dinner supplied by Restaurant Guru, with a wide selection of dishes for vegetarians as well. Later members of Indians in Denmark will host a game show, and the evening will conclude with a DJ and dancing until 22:00.

While Diwali is traditionally celebrated by Indians, this year’s festivities are being run in co-operation with Bengalis in Denmark, the Dansk Indisk Forening, the Dansk Tamilisk Cultural Association and the Denmark Telugu Association.

Pandian also pointed out that the celebration welcomes anyone who wishes to attend. “Our celebration embraces every Copenhagener,” he said.

To find out more or to register for this year’s Diwali celebration, visit www.indiansindenmark.com. The address of the venue is Bådehavnsgade 57, Cph SV. Tickets cost 125kr, with concessions available for members, students and children.