Diwali is the festival of light and new hope!

With the recent Diwali celebrations, Professor Sanjib Bhakta, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry, reflects on what the festival means to him.

Mousumi Shyam, a Newton-Bhabha International Fellow at Birkbeck’s School of Science, has celebrated Diwali by decorating the International Students House with the traditional ‘Rangoli’. The purpose of the colourful design, ‘Rangoli’ is to feed strength, generosity and it is thought to bring good luck.

Diwali follows the epic story of ancient India: “Ramayana” to represent the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. The symbolism of Diwali is appropriately summarised in the simple act of lighting a lamp or ‘diya’. These are said to ward away evil and welcome the Goddess Lakshmi (the Hindu Goddess of wealth and prosperity) into the house.

The positive vibe that comes with the Diwali festival is more relevant worldwide in this challenging year than ever before with the unprecedented pandemic. During the second phase of lockdown in the UK, while we should strictly follow the Government guidelines on social distancing, face covering, good handwashing routine and patiently wait for a better control for the debilitating infectious disease to be available to us, I have been celebrating this ‘Diwali’ with my family at home and with all of you remotely over the weekend by lighting ‘diya’! Let us together give thanks for all we hold dear: our health, our family, our friends and to the scientists, NHS staff, and all the key workers who are working relentlessly to tackle the health challenges this year…

I moved to the UK precisely two decades ago but I still miss India when It comes to celebrating Diwali! To all the staff and students at Birkbeck, University of London I wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali!

Take care, stay happy and celebrate the festive season with all the available precautions and protections.

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