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Diwali is the biggest festival in the Hindu calendar. The 'festival of lights' lasts five days and unites Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists from all over the world. For some it also coincides with the New Year celebrations. Diwali represents a symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil which is a message that is much needed during a pandemic.

The festival itself lasts five days, but there is a long build up to it. Usually family and friends would get together, decorate their houses, buy new clothes, exchange gifts, and enjoy good food and each other's company. Unfortunately, this year, no such celebrations will be possible.

The Government's plan to work the second lockdown "towards Christmas" means we cannot celebrate Diwali as we would want to or hoped to. However, organisations have been very creative by offering prayers online and even Zoom firework events, but most people I know will be using this as a time for reflection, having small gatherings with their family, and looking towards the future with hope. 

There is always light at the end of the tunnel. This year I have seen my local community come together like never before. My neighbours have been kind, supportive and eager to help the most vulnerable. We have seen time and time again that we are able to band together in times of need. Now, there is news of a promising vaccine on the horizon for this terrible illness that has left us all crippled for the better part of a year.

The past few months have been dark and difficult for us all in different ways. But these challenging times have shown to many of us that even in the darkest days, there is always light. The message of Diwali is more important now than ever before – the light will vanquish the dark, good will triumph over evil and knowledge will replace ignorance.