Looking ahead: celebrating Deepavali (Diwali) in Sri Lanka

With a rich diversity of culture, Sri Lanka is known for having a calendar bursting with events, with one of the most celebrated being Diwali (known as Deepavali in Sri Lanka), the Hindu Festival of Lights. This year’s celebrations begin on 11th November, meaning that there’s still time to book a luxury hotel with Chic Retreats right in the heart of the festivities.

Deepavali is an ancient tradition, heralding from India, and it is believed that the festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama following his return from 14 years of exile. When he returned to Ayodhya in darkness, he was welcomed by the residents who lit lamps for him, and so lights and lanterns today are lit up in remembrance of this.

One of the main events of the Deepavali celebrations is the lighting of lamps throughout the streets of Sri Lanka’s Hindu communities. As part of a special ritual, people will also perform a Pooja, where a shrine is built for the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, with offerings of prayers, fruits, money and objects made to invite her to their homes, bringing wealth and prosperity to the new Hindu year.

As well as offering gifts to the gods, the people also exchange sweets and other gifts between family and friends – special sweets, where images are made from sugar crystals, are made especially for this occasion. You’ll also see many people enjoying the celebrations by burning colourful crackers, adding to the excitement and colour of the festivities.

Image: Ramnath Bhat, available under Creative Commons

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.