Traditional celebrations move online for Diwali during lockdown

Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have been preparing to celebrate Diwali in a different style due to the religious festival falling during the second national lockdown.

The five-day festival of lights got under way yesterday (Thursday) with the main day of celebrations due to take place tomorrow (Saturday).

The event would usually see groups getting together to take part in puja, prayer, and enjoying a day of singing, dancing and celebrating.

But with Government restrictions banning people from meeting indoors and restricting the use of places of worship, celebrations will be switched online this year.

Naresh Saraswat, head priest at the Slough Hindu Temple, in Keel Drive, said: “We used to have a big, big fireworks display outside the temple but this year we are not doing that.

“This year, we are opening the temple and will make sure that if people visit the temple they do not stay long.

“We are not anticipating many people to visit on Saturday but if they do we have already marked the distances and there will be separate entry and exit points, hand sanitisation, masks and temperature checks.”

The temple will be live-streaming its evening prayer on Saturday on the Hindu Mandir Slough YouTube channel at 7pm.

Normal tradition would see the Hindu community bringing boxes of sweets to the temple to share with fellow worshippers.

But the head priest added that people will not be able to leave boxes at the temple due to the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

He added: “We’re just encouraging everyone to stay healthy, safe and do whatever they can to follow the guidelines around COVID-19.”

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