For Hindus around the world, Diwali is one of the most important moments of the year. Celebrated by millions worldwide, some of the best celebrations in the UK can be found in the multicultural city of Birmingham. If you’ll be joining the Diwali party, come along with CrossCountry as we explore the best ways to celebrate Diwali in Birmingham.
If you’re travelling to Birmingham to get involved in the Diwali celebrations, you can travel directly to Birmingham New Street station by hopping on board your local CrossCountry service. With trains departing from local Wolverhampton as well as far-away Aberdeen, Exeter, and Manchester, you can travel from all around the UK to enjoy Diwali in Birmingham.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is a Hindu festival that takes place every autumn between October and November. Also known as Dipawali, the festival entails a five-day celebration with fireworks, delicious feasts, and gift-giving. The holiday symbolises a victory of light over darkness, and good over evil which is illustrated in the way Hindus will illuminate their home with diyas (oil lamps), candles, and lanterns.
On the first day of Diwali, those who celebrate clean and prepare their homes for the festivities. On day two, homes are adorned with lamps and beautiful rangoli, a design created on the floor with colourful powder. Day three is the main day of the festival, when families gather together to pray to the Goddess Lakshmi then dance and eat under a sky full of technicolour fireworks. On day four, families exchange gifts and on day five, sisters will invite their brothers for a deliciously impressive meal.
Diwali is also celebrated by many outside the Hindu faith, for example, in Jainism, Diwali marks the death and final Nirvana of Lord Mahavira, a supreme preacher of Jainism. For Sikhs, the festival honours the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru, was released from imprisonment.
Diwali Celebrations in Birmingham
A Visit from Bollywood Star, Preity Zinta
The Mayor of Birmingham has announced that Bollywood sensation and entrepreneur Preity Zinta will be visiting Birmingham during Diwali to help lead the celebrations. On Sunday 5th November, Preity will be making a guest appearance at the Birmingham Town Hall to light the diyas, this is a free event so everyone has a chance to see the star!
Diwali Basket Brigade
For those looking to make a meaningful difference this year, the community-led project Diwali Basket Brigade will be holding their annual event. The initiative seeks to provide food hampers for those in need. Anyone, from any faith or background, can benefit from this noble project.
More than two-hundred volunteers will be hand-delivering the baskets which will include a range of essential items, like tinned food, rice, pasta, fruit, and vegetables. The hampers also include delicious recipes to help families put the food to good use. In 2022, the event raised over £25,000 and 3000 hampers were distributed, all with a handmade Diwali card. If you’d like to volunteer, head to Diwali Basket Brigade.
Shadows, Lights, and Lantern Parade in Solihull
In 2023, The Core Theatre is presenting a magical selection of activities, from Bhangra dancing to shadow-puppet making. You’ll also have the chance to take part in some beautiful community artwork projects, like decorating lanterns ready for the parade or creating a giant rangoli.
On the 9th of November, the theatre is launching the Diwali Sari Sari Night Lantern Parade, a fun-filled evening of dance, food, and music. Everyone is welcome at The Core Theatre to come along and celebrate Diwali, there is no need to book in advance. Attendees are encouraged to bring lanterns, glow sticks, torches, or even just their mobile phone flashlights.
Diwali Light Trail
Explore a gorgeous display of light at the Parkridge Nature Reserve, bought to you by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in collaboration with the Solihull Hindu community. Running for five days, the trail has been created to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and new beginnings. Visit by yourself for a period of quiet reflection or take some family and friends and appreciate the importance of togetherness. There will be plenty of photo opportunities too!
A Taste of Diwali in Birmingham
India is home to some of the most mouth-watering sweet treats in the world and you can find some real delicacies in Birmingham. With an emphasis on food during the festivities, there will be plenty of traditional meals to try and gifting sweets is a great way to celebrate. Some favourites include Gulab Juman, cardamom dumplings in a rose or saffron syrup; and Kaju Katli, cashew slices. We recommend visiting Chandi Chowk to experience traditional freshly cooked, handmade Indian sweets.
When celebrating Diwali, it’s encouraged to wear your brightest and best. Most Hindu women will wear sparkling saris in all kinds of vivid colours. Birmingham will be awash with these colours and dazzling lights too, making it one of the best places to witness this rich cultural celebration.
Written by Julia