Celebrating the Festival of Light in Jaffna
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Light, is celebrated by Hindu devotees across the world. Although the festival originates from India, being one of its closest neighbors, Sri Lanka’s culture and way of life is strongly influenced by the India subcontinent.
The festival symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil over a five-day period. Street celebrations begin on the third day – the 15th day of Kartik – deemed the darkest night and the holiest day in the Hindu lunar calendar.
More commonly known as “Deepavali” in Sri Lanka, the celebration kicks off in the second half of October to early November. If you happen to be traveling in the country during this time, the best place to experience the celebrations is the city of Jaffna up north, as the majority of the population here is Hindu.
At Khiri Travel our local guide from this fascinating city will ensure that you get to experience the celebrations like a local, visiting out-of-the-way communities that most visitors don’t get to see. You start the tour in the afternoon with a ride through the streets of Jaffna on vintage bicycles – a common way to get around the city.
Visit Jaffna Fort built in 1618, following the Portuguese invasion of Jaffna, and the famous Jaffna Public Library, once one of the biggest in Asia, before it was tragically destroyed by fire in 1981 during the Sri Lankan civil war.
Other visited attractions include Subramaniam Children’s Park, coastal villages, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the biggest church in Jaffna, and the Sangiliyan statue, dedicated to Cankili II, a Tamil martyr and the last king of the Jaffna Kingdom.
In the late afternoon head to a Hindu kovil, or ‘temple’, as it translated from the Tamil language. Here you will see Hindu devotees making poojas or offerings to the gods. Finally, visit a local family and celebrate Deepavali with them by lighting oil lamps and enjoying a special vegetarian dinner feast.
The family also runs a homestay with clean, comfortable rooms, so we recommend you spend the night in their house to really experience the local hospitality and gain some insight into the local Deepavali customs.
There’s no better way to experience Sri Lanka’s Festival of Light than in the company of a Tamil family truly devoted to this important Hindu celebration.
For bookings and more information on experiences in Jaffna, get in touch with us at: [email protected].