FAMILIES can celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, digitally this month.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Durham University has moved its popular annual celebration online, to the Oriental Museum’s Explore From Home web page.

There are family-friendly craft activities, a re-telling of the epic story of Prince Rama and Princess Sita from the Ramayana and video recipes for a vegetarian Indian Thali feast.

These are available now at dur.ac.uk/attractions/explorefromhome/festivals/faith/diwali/

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Additionally, on Saturday, November 14, a Lakshmi Puja ceremony, traditional prayers to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, will be streamed live.

This will take place on the Oriental Museum’s Facebook page from 7pm and also be available on the University website from Monday, November 16.

Members of the local Indian community are working with museum staff to create the online celebrations.

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Deepthi Penukonda, one of the local residents involved, said: “It has been a bit of a challenge to make the videos, but a lot of fun too. All the recipes are easy and delicious. I hope people have a go at making their own dishes at home.”

Charlotte Spink, a Learning Assistant at the Oriental Museum, said: “This year more than ever we are so grateful to our community and students volunteers who have worked wonders creating so much great online content for people to enjoy at home. I would encourage everyone to try the recipes and activities post their creations on social media.”

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Participants are invited to post their own Diwali creations online using #diwali2020 on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Durham University has a multicultural and diverse staff and student body and students have access to many cultural and faith activities, including a Hindu Society.

On Thursday, November 12, the Durham Interfaith Student Network, which includes five faith societies, will host an online event titled ‘Interfaith Experiences’, during which speakers will discuss the impact of interfaith dialogue on their own faith, their faith communities and the wider world. This is part of National Interfaith Week 2020 interfaithweek.org.

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The University is also currently developing its Chaplaincy and Faith Support service. It recently appointed a Buddhist Chaplain and is exploring the possibility of appointing a Hindu Chaplain.

Hindu students have access to nearby places of worship including the Hindu Temple in Newcastle and the Hindu Cultural Society in Middlesbrough.