Diwali, the East Indian festival of lights, is a national holiday in parts of the Caribbean with a large diaspora from India, including Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Diwali falls on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. So the date varies every year with the cycles of the moon.
The four or five day festival peaks on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
How is Diwali Latin?
It’s not, but Diwali is celebrated in the Caribbean. Caribbean countries went through layers of colonization. If you ever lived in the Caribbean, you know that regardless of our colonizers, there is something Caribbean that unites us.
When slavery was outlawed in the British Empire, British colonies imported over half a million indentured servants from India to work in the Caribbean sugar cane plantations.
Today Indo-Caribbeans are a plurality (the biggest group, but not a majority) in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. There is also a large Indo-Caribbean community in Jamaica.
India is a big country with many different religions. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists celebrate Diwali. Different religions and regions celebrate a little bit differently, and isn’t that beautiful?
The big idea is the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” It’s also Hindu New Year, so that is celebrated as well.
The festival normally lasts four or five days. People clean homes and workplaces; get dressed up; light candles, lamps and fireworks; pray; feast and give gifts.
When you step back and think about it, many different cultures around the world have similar celebrations. There is something about being human that leads us all to do similar things.