Communities across Hampshire will be heading to Hindu and Sikh temples on Wednesday to celebrate Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights.
Members of the two communities will be joining millions of people across the world, including those who are not from Hindu or Sikh backgrounds, to celebrate the New Year.
The climax of the festival will be on Wednesday night, when friends and families celebrate the passing of the New Year as coloured sparks litter the Southampton skyline.
All four of the Sikh temples in Southampton and the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Radcliffe Road, Northam, will be holding services in the evening.
Hundreds of people are expected to head to the Vedic Society Temple for fireworks from 7.30pm.
Traditionally Diwali is when businesses receive blessings for their books so there will be a short ceremony afterwards.
The next day will see the celebration of the New Year – aankut – with a feast at the Vedic Society Hindu Temple with children from the temple performing dances from 6.30pm.
President of the temple Ravi Parmar said how important this Diwali is to the Hindu community in Southampton.
“It means so much. It’s the biggest festival in Southampton for the Hindu community. It brings the community together.
“It brings so much culture back to the youngsters and they can bring it back to the temple at a later date.
“It’s part of the celebration, it says how much it means to everybody. Diwali means a lot to everybody.”
People from across Hampshire will be heading to temples from 5pm.
Visitors heading to the Vedic Society Hindu Temple are advised to get there early and avoid going by car as parking on nearby streets will be limited.
The temple will be open from 9am to 9pm both days.
Diwali is the biggest and the brightest festival in India and spiritually signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
Festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu calendar which is between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices.
On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up lamps and candles – called diyas – inside and outside their homes and participate in family prayers called puja – typically to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Source: Daily Echo