Celebrate Diwali - the festival of lights

Madhavi Latha Apparala is celebrating Diwali

Celebrate Diwali - the festival of lights

Thursday 12 November sees the start of the five-day festival of Diwali, which is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world. Read on for some ideas for how you can mark the occasion through cycling.

When is Diwali?

We all need a little light in our lives right now and, happily, Diwali starts this week. This annual feast traditionally commemorates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and hope over despair; and often occurs in October or November, with the date moving each year around the new moon on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika. This year, the main celebration date for the festival in the UK is Saturday 14 November but each of the five days has its own significance.

How is it celebrated?

The word 'Diwali' comes from the Sanskrit 'Deepavali', which means 'row of lights'. Normally, families will light small oil lamps called 'diyas' and visit friends and relations for feasts and fireworks, with many towns and cities organising public celebrations but, of course, these will be mostly cancelled in the current circumstances, with the usual festivities are very much limited.

However, some activities will still take place: Cycling UK community cycle club Telugu Association of Scotland (TAS), whose aim is to 'integrate, preserve, maintain and perpetuate the cultural heritage of the Telugu people in Scotland, will be co-hosting a ride with Woodland Wheels on Sunday 15 November starting from Rannoch to the Dalmeny Estate near Edinburgh. TAS will also host Diwali celebrations online in the afternoon.

Woodland Wheels is a Scottish Forestry project set up to empower diverse communities in Scotland. Rides are leisurely and mostly off-road to local woodlands. They are led by experienced ride leaders and include woodland activities such as learning about wild plants and natural remedies. They are currently run in accordance with local lockdown guidance, of course. 

I’m Hindu, so nature is a goddess for us. That’s how I feel connected to everything.

Madhavi Latha Apparala, volunteer ride leader

Nature is very important in Hindu culture, as TAS volunteer ride leader Madhavi Latha Apparala explains: "Cycling allows me to reconnect with nature. I’m Hindu, so nature is a goddess for us. That’s how I feel connected to everything; I don’t feel lonely."

Get involved 

There's no reason why Diwali can't be marked by your own bike ride too, whether that's solo or with friends or family in line with whatever the rules permit in your local area. Don't forget to add some bling to your bike first though with some battery-operated fairy lights to light up the night sky and bring a bit of joy to the world. 


Brightly lit bike
Photo by Peter Cornish

Traditionally, sweets are eaten for Diwali and elaborate and colourful geometric designs called 'rangoli' are created to feel strength and generosity, as well as bring good luck. These can be made with wet or dry materials such as coloured powders, paint, flour or even flower petals.

Why not create your own rangoli with a bit of mindful colouring in using our stencils (attached) created from an old disk brake? (But be careful if you use your own though as the edges can be sharp!)



Go for a ride

If you're in a household or bubble with your spouse or siblings, you can also mark the fourth and fifth days of Diwali with a bike ride - Sunday's theme is Bali Pratipada, which focuses on the love between a husband and wife with gifts and meals, while Monday 16 November is Bhaj Dooj, the last day of the festival, and is dedicated to the lifelong bond between brothers and sisters. Don't forget some sweets and other treats to make it really special!


Lit up rider
Photo by Peter Cornish

Do good

Finally, if you want to perform a little good for the world of cycling, why not join the Pumped Up Crew and inspire those budding cyclists out there to keep going over the dark winter months ahead?

But, however you celebrate, we'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Diwali! 

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