For about five days straight every October or November, Surinamese of Indian descent celebrate Divali, or “the Festival of Lights”, with great enthusiasm and vigour. Divali is a public holiday across the country.
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Divali, also called “Deepavali”, is a national public holiday in Suriname, largely due to the large number of Suriname’s people whose ancestors hail from India where Hinduism and its festivals are traditional.
The towns of Nickerie, Saramacca, and Wanica have the highest concentration of Indian-Surinamese and of Hindus (by far) in Suriname. Thus, these towns are the centre points of Divali celebrations in Suriname each year.
For Divali, people will adorn their houses with lights and traditional lanterns called “diyas”. They also thoroughly clean the house, don new clothes, and make intricate patterns from coloured rice, sawdust, or other materials called “rangoli”.
Additionally, those celebrating Divali will set off firecrackers, feast with family and friends, visit local Hindu temples, and perform traditional rites in worship of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi in a special room of their home.