As we enter the darker, colder months of the year, many of us begin to look forward to a season of festivals.  This weekend, we look to the vibrant festival of Diwali – the Festival of Lights.

As the Inclusion Champion for Faith and Belief, I believe it's essential to not only respect and appreciate the diverse cultural celebrations of our community but to also actively embrace and participate in them. Diwali offers us a remarkable opportunity to do just that.

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a significant festival for millions of people around the world, particularly for our Hindu, Jain, and Sikh staff and students, as well as countless others who partake in this beautiful celebration. The Festival of Lights signifies the victory of “light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. It is celebrated with anticipation and joy, and the days leading up to Diwali are often filled with preparation. In some regions in India, the day after Diwali marks the New Year.

This Diwali, I encourage all members of our community to join in the festivities, learn about the significance of this beautiful festival, and share in the joy of our fellow staff and students who celebrate Diwali. 

The Students’ Union this year is hosting several activities for students who would like to participate in Diwali celebrations:

  1. Diwali wishes and bonfire
  2. Make rangoli art
  3. Attend a traditional Lakshmi Pooja ceremony
  4. Attend the Essex Rebels Men v Thames Valley Cavaliers Diwali basketball game

At Essex, we understand that cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and Diwali is a prime example of how we embrace and celebrate that diversity. By participating in and respecting the traditions and celebrations of all our staff and students, we foster an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone feels welcome.

This month, I would also like to recognise the following holy days / festivals and encourage you to spend some time learning about each one.

  • 1 November – All Saints Day [Christian]
  • 2 November – All Souls Day [Christian]
  • 2 November – El dia de los Muertos [Mexico and South America]
  • 2 November – Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie I [Rastafari]
  • 10 November – Dhanteras [Hindu]
  • 11 November – Birth of Baha’u ‘Llah [Baha’i]
  • 15 November – Bhai Dooj [Hindu]
  • 17 November – 20 November – Chhath Pooja [Hindu]
  • 24 November – Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur [Sikhism]
  • 27 November – Birthday of Guru Nanak [Sikhism]
  • 27 November – Kartik Purnima [Hindu]
  • 30 November – St. Andrew’s Day [Christian / Scotland]

May this Diwali bring light, joy, and prosperity to all of us. Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Diwali!