UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that celebrating Diwali this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be difficult, but also urged to mark the ‘festival of lights’ while adhering to the restrictions.
Speaking to the BBC, Sunak, who is an Indian-origin, said: “Faith is important to me, I’m a practising Hindu, I pray with my kids, visit the temple when I can – at the moment rather less so because I’m busy.
“For us as Hindus, Diwali is special, and it’s going to be difficult this year.
“But we’ve got Zoom, we’ve got the phone, and most importantly, we’ve got each other. Whether you can see someone or not the bond of family, that bond of love is always going to be there. And it will be there on December 3 as well.”
With a nationwide lockdown in place in England, the second of its kind since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, many councils are providing online Diwali celebrations on Saturday.
Regarding the lockdown, which is due to end on December 2, the Chancellor said that families need “to stick with this for a couple more weeks”.
“We’re going to get through this,” he told the BBC.
“And it’s going to be so much better on the other side. And we’ll have lots of happy times afterwards. But to keep everyone safe right now, just follow the rules.”
Some of the UK’s most popular temples will be hosting virtual ceremonies to mark the festival.
Tens of thousands of people usually join Diwali celebrations in Leicester, believed to be among the biggest outside of India, but the city council has asked to send in video messages.
London’s main Diwali celebration, which usually attracts around 30,000 people to Trafalgar Square, has also been replaced with an online event.