Dublin being the multicultural city it is, offers a taste of many international festivals and festivities. Thanks to a growing number of Indian expats, it also offers a wonderful opportunity for everyone to experience some amazing Indian cultural events and celebrations.
So, if you were always intrigued by what Diwali, the festival of lights entailed, and how you could get a feel of it here in Dublin, and in Ireland, we have compiled a list of events for you.
What is Diwali?
A Hindu festival, it marks the onset of a new year, involves the worship of the goddess of wealth (Lakshmi), and is also a celebration of good over evil.
And like most festivals, there is an abundance of feasting, festive cheer, and meeting and greeting friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours.
In India, it’s a five-day festival and each day is devoted to a different ceremony or custom. However, on Diwali night, it would be the norm for most people to offer prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the god representing good fortune and wisdom for the coming year. It is also believed that clean and sparkling homes, the colourful patterns of rangoli and the lighting of clay lamps would attract the goddess of wealth, ensuring that the year ahead is full of abundance and grace.
This year, Diwali falls on November 12.
What happens during the five-day festival?
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras. Many people observe a traditional custom to purchase any items made from gold or silver on this day; it is considered very auspicious to do so. (The word ‘Dhan’ denotes wealth, and the word ‘teras’ means thirteen.)
The second day is also known as Choti Diwali, and it is a time to decorate homes, make colourful arrangements from flowers and special powders.
The third day of Diwali is devoted to Lakshmi Puja. It is the main day of the festival, when clay lamps, candles, and fireworks light up homes and skies across India. It would be customary for many Hindus to worship the goddess of wealth and seek her blessings. Of course, good food is a part of all five days, including the main day of Diwali.
Day four is celebrated in different ways across India – in north India, for example, the morning is dedicated to worshipping the tools of work. The ‘tools’ could be your account books, for instance, if you are a trader or accountant, it could be your computer as well if that’s the main tool you use to do your work.
Finally, it’s time for Bhai Dooj which is the fifth day of Diwali. It is a day that celebrates the special bond between brothers and sisters. Traditionally, brothers visit their sisters’ homes on this day, often bearing gifts in cash or kind. The sisters, in turn, may prepare a delicious feast and pray for their brothers’ protection and well-being.
During all the five days and thereafter as well, people visit the homes of friends, family, neighbours, and even colleagues. There’s plenty of feasting, fireworks, and everyone dresses up in their traditional fineries.
Here are some events that you may be interested in. While our list is not comprehensive, we hope it gives you enough options to experience the magic and unique charm of the festival of lights.
The Utsav Community Group is celebrating Deepon ki Pankti, festival of lights on November 11, at Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, 32 Belgrave Square South, Monkstown, A94 XV02 from 12 to 5 pm. This is an indoor event, and the highlights include an afternoon full of live cultural performances, fun games, a mini market that includes a henna artist, festive home decor, beautiful Diwali hampers, pretty hand ribbon accessories, and an opportunity to shop for traditional Indian jewellery. There’s also a DJ and the guests’ taste buds will be catered to by Chef Bishnu. You can find a booking link here.
Then there’s the Diwali celebration in Greystones. While the event is sold out, you may want to keep tabs on it for next year. Known as the “Greystones Ki Diwali 2023”, this event is a celebration of culture, community, and festivities. We have included some photographs from last year and they give a glimpse of what the event is usually like. There are cultural performances, including traditional dances, music, and a vibrant display of Indian artistry. There’s of course plenty to feast on, and guests also participate in the lighting of diyas (traditional lamps) and the Diwali Puja (prayer ceremony) and henna application on hands.
If you missed getting your hands on a ticket this year for the Greystones Diwali event, don’t fret. How about looking up this free event that will be held in South Dublin? It’s called ‘India Fest & Diwali Celebrations Dublin 2023’ and takes place on November 18th from 10 am to 7 pm at the Leopardstown Racecourse, Foxrock, Dublin 18. The event will feature a multitude of artistes, art workshops, yoga, fun games, an array of Indian food stalls. Find more information here: https://indiafest.ie/#
There’s also a Diwali event organised by the Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre Ireland (VHCCI). It’s on Sunday November 5 and the timings are from 2pm to 8.30pm. Tickets and more details are available here.
The Diwali celebration by BAPS Ireland deserves a special mention. They have been celebrating Diwali in Ireland for over 20 years now, and their event is free to attend. At the BAPS Ireland event, you can get an opportunity to witness the ‘Annakut festival’. It basically involves the creation of a massive display of various vegetarian food items, often in the form of a large, decorative arrangement resembling a mountain or a hill made from different food offerings. Devotees lovingly prepare a wide assortment of dishes, and these include savoury items, sweets, and fruit preparations. These are offered to god/the deities with a sense of gratitude and faith. It’s also interesting to know that all the wide variety of food (hundreds of different dishes) that are offered in the Annakut are prepared in a special way; none of the food items contain any garlic, onion, or asafetida. Those who attend this festival will be offered prasad and various stalls selling Indian food at very reasonable prices will also be a part of the celebrations. While the event is free to attend, the organisers request that attendees fill out a brief online registration form. This will help them to better manage the festivities.
Also, worth noting in your diaries is the Diwali celebrations that the Ireland India Council is organising in collaboration with Kylmore Cars on November 4th, 2023. The event features classical dances plus the allure of traditional Indian food. Here’s a handy link to get your tickets.
If you are based in Cork, a Diwali celebration has been organised for November 19th, and it involves a gamut of cultural programmes. You can look up the Facebook page Cork Indian Community for more details of the event.
While this is a list of events and celebrations, you can also experience a slice of Diwali-special food at many Indian restaurants. You can always call or look up the website of your favourite Indian restaurant to find out if they are offering a Diwali-special menu or sweets that you can avail of during this special time. We say so because several eateries and chefs do plan on serving something unique and special to mark the festival of lights, and it would be a good idea to check online.
Here’s hoping you enjoy Diwali – with friends, colleagues and at community events, and get to ring in the five-day festival with lots of fervour and fun.