As Diwali is around the corner (at least it is now, when I am writing this piece), I decided to look up on the internet to find the festivals of light around the world. I was surprised to find the similarities between those festivals with Diwali.
So, I decided to pen them down for you to read so here we go.
Festivals of light ignites a spark of joy in everybody’s heart just like Diwali does for us Indians. I wasn’t surprised to see how many festivals were there in the world that resembled the same traditions. We will go through each festival one by one until we reach Diwali.
Let’s look at these festivals of light celebrated across the world.
1. Yee Peng
Yee Peng is celebrated around Chiang Mi in the northern corners of Thailand which coincides with Loy Krathong. Just like Indians on Diwali, people there decorate their homes with multiple lights. They use paper lanterns like China and also release my favourite sky lanterns in the sky as the sun goes down. While they do this, they ask for forgiveness for their past sins and wish for a better new year.
2. Fête des Lumières
Fête des Lumières is a four day long festival celebrated in the French City of Lyon. It is celebrated in order to pay gratitude to Mother Mary, the birth mother of Jesus. To pay their respects, people put candles on their windowsills and balconies (just like Diwali time in India). During these four days, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Lyon Cathedral are brightly lit while they use a different theme each day.
Hanukkah is a weeklong Jewish holiday (cheers to the long work-off to them), that commemorates the anewment of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Just like Diwali, this festival is known as ‘the Festival of Lights’ locally as it involves a lot of candles. During this time, people lit a nine-branched menorah, also known as candelabrum after the sundown. With each passing day, people keep adding one candle to the menorah.
Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration, was started in the year 1966 in the U.S. It was started by the African-American people to appreciate the African heritage. The seven days signifies seven common principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. As a part of the culture and rituals, a candle representing each principle is lit every day.
Traditionally, Hogmanay is the New Year’s Eve in Scotland that is celebrated for three consecutive days. It is a bit different from Diwali as Revellers carry out a march through the streets while holding torchlight in their hands. They also organise street parties, burn fireballs, swings, set off fireworks and also burn a replica of Viking Ship.
6. Lantern Festival of China
We are all familiar with the Chinese red lamps and this festival is where they originate from.
Lantern Festival of China marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities which typically falls on the first full moon as per the Chinese Calendar. Everybody lights beautiful carved paper lanterns and the fairs in the country hold large scale lit displays. As the evening arrives, people shoot lanterns in the sky that have wishes written in handsome calligraphy.
7. Las Fallas
Las Fallas is a festival celebrated by the people of Valencia in Spain. It is there to welcome the season of Spring and remember Saint Joseph. People hold street lighting competitions and also burn the models of various unpopular characters (just like we burn Ravana on Dussehra). The best part about this festival is its pyrotechnic show, which is a fireworks display at night.
Nowruz is the traditional New Year of the people of Persian or Zoroastrian. It is held in the spring season which is marked by people organising communal bonfires, fireworks and feasts in the evening. (Doesn’t it sound like a combination of Diwali and Lohri?)
9. Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is supposed to be the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas which is an annual event in Australia. The natives go crazy with their lights, art projection and other interactive exhibits while vibrant musical programs are run along.
10. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is among the three biggest festivals in Japan which is mostly seen in the Tohoku Region of the country. People create huge structures on the backlit floats by hand and light them for the festival. On the day of the festival, people illuminate these floats and wheel them around the streets while traditional Japanese music accompanies them.
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights which is celebrated to remember the homecoming of Lord Rama after killing Ravana. People lit their houses using lights, candles, diyas and so much more. In addition to this, people also organise pujas, prepare sweets and other appetising dishes to share with their loved ones.
These were all the festivals of light across the globe. I hope I covered them all but in case I missed some festival that you might know of, then please write it in the comment section below so that I can add it in the article.