Indians celebrate Diwali with performances, fireworks in Taipei

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Local Diwali attendees don on saris in observation of Diwali on November 5th.

Hundreds of people on November 5th attended Diwali celebrations in Taipei organized by the de facto Indian embassy, enjoying fireworks and traditional music, food and cultural performances.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is observed by Hindus and those who follow other religions across India and celebrates the “victory of good over evil and the victory of light over darkness,” India’s representative to Taiwan Manharsinh Laxmanbhai Yadav said at the Taipei event.

The “auspicious” annual festival “cuts across the lines of religion, region, nation and language,” with about “1.4 billion people celebrating in India and millions of Indians celebrating across the world,” he added.

The festival marks the day that the deity Rama returned to his kingdom in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after the demon king Ravana was defeated, according to the representative of the India Taipei Association (ITA), the de facto Indian embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Yadav said that traditionally Indians illuminate their homes, temples and workspaces with oil lamps, candles and lanterns. They also do “Rangoli,” the art of decorating the floor and the entrance of their home to welcome guests, as well as cleaning their living space thoroughly.

“All these are physical actions, but there is a deeper meaning to each one of them.

“When we light a lamp, we are trying to show that we are open to positive thinking and are open to positive energy. And when we clean our homes, we get rid of all the bad habits in our minds,” Yadav said.

Furthermore, Indians don’t just pray on Diwali for “self-improvement,” he said, but also for “peace and prosperity” across the world.

The envoy, who took office this August, said that it is in this spirit that he is happy to see so many Taiwanese people joining their Indian friends and participating in traditional dancing at Sunday’s event.

“I think this is a true celebration of what India and Taiwan can do together,” he said. “Culturally we are very similar societies, open and pluralistic. And today we’ll celebrate the creative talent of both societies.”

On his part, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) praised the annual event as showcasing the cultural heritage of the “great civilization” of India.

The top Taiwanese diplomat said that he is a huge fan of Bollywood movies and that Indian cuisines are also widely popular in Taiwan.

“The relations between Taiwan and India have become closer than ever, in every aspect, including science and technology, education and supply chain resilience,” Wu said.

Bilateral trade between India and Taiwan reached US$8.4 billion in 2022, he added, noting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that it will soon open a new representative office in Mumbai, the cultural and business hub of western India.

“I want to wish everybody a Happy Diwali. And I wish that the celebration of lights brings all of you brightness, hope and happiness in your hearts and your families,” the minister said.

Sunday’s event was held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Taipei’s Yanping Riverside Park near the popular travel destination Dadaocheng Wharf.

It included a main stage where Indian music was played and traditional dances performed, as well as featuring a dozen Indian food stalls and crafts that many enjoyed before the festival ended with a five-minute firework show.

It was the first time ITA organized the Diwali celebrations. In previous years, the annual event was run by the Indians in Taiwan (IiT) group and Taiwan’s foreign ministry.