WITH no big celebrations allowed due to the national lockdown, the Hindu community of Bradford is getting ready for a very different Diwali this year.
The five-day festival starts on Thursday with Diwali falling on Saturday.
Ravinder Dharni, vice-chairman of the Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple on Leeds Road, Bradford, said: “A lot of things have had to be cancelled.
“We normally have two or three big functions,” said Mr Dharni, who is also vice-chairman of the Bradford Hindu Council. “There is usually a light switch on in the city centre and outside local temples and a gentlemen’s evening at Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford, which usually has around 500 people.
“We also usually have a religious festival at the temple, which is an-all-day event on Diwali that can be attended by up to 2,000 people.
“We have a massive field and there is a spectacular firework event. It’s a good fundraiser for the temple. But that’s all gone now.
“This virus is a horrible thing. It’s restricted so many things in normal life.”
Manoj Joshi, a long-standing member of the Hindu community in Bradford, said: “Diwali is going to be different because no congregations are allowed. It will just be individual worship. It’s not the same.
“When there is a big celebration, people do like to attend to show their community solidarity.
“These kind of gatherings normally can sustain people through the darker months.
“But there will no communal gatherings for such significant events.
“It will have a profound impact on communities of all religious faiths who will have had their festivals cancelled.
“It’s all going to be very mellowed and not as passionate or joyful.
“It’s going to prevent people from meeting at one of these events, but we’ll have to maintain the spirit digitally.
“It’s really hard for older generations,” said Mr Dharni. “People can do quite a lot at home but going to temple for Diwali is such a big part of their lives.”
Although, Diwali will be very different this year, Mr Dharni said that the Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple will be open for prayer on Diwali on a timetabled booking system.
“We are open but it very limited, like churches and mosques.
“We have been open seven days a week, two times a day, from 10am to noon and 4.30pm to 6.30pm.
“We offer a prayer space because it’s somewhere people can go and have peace tranquility.
“It’s been very quiet and allowed people to come in and get temperature checked before going upstairs for prayer.
“We haven’t had any services, functions or programmes.
“There’s been no congregation and the kitchen and hall facilities have not been in use.”