Here’s what to know and how to celebrate Diwali – a Hindu, Jain and Sikh festival of lights – in Hong Kong.
Given Hong Kong’s number of Indians, Nepalis and other South Asian communities, it comes as no surprise to see the diaspora embracing festivals like Diwali and flaunting glamorous traditional attire. And of course, Hongkongers don’t need a reason to dress up, feast and party, so chances are that you have been to (or been invited to) some of the parties happening across the city! So how can you celebrate this bright and beautiful festival? Here’s your guide to celebrating Diwali in Hong Kong.
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Diwali: The Background Of The Festival Of Lights
This year, Diwali or Deepawali’s main day of celebration falls on Sunday, 12 November, 2023. “Main day?” you say? That’s right, this festival of lights usually has five or even six days of customs, depending on which faith you belong to and which region and community you’re a part of.
The three major religions that celebrate Diwali include Hindus, Sikhs and Jains but the reasons for their celebrations slightly vary. For many, the festival symbolises a spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance” with stories cited including it being the day Rama returned to his kingdom in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating the demon king Ravana.
Other regional traditions connect this holiday to Vishnu, Krishna, Durga, Shiva, Kali, Hanuman, Kubera, Yama, Yami, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman. For Jains, the day is when the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, Lord Mahavira, attained nirvana. And for Sikhs, Diwali is a story about a struggle for freedom, celebrating the sixth guru’s (Guru Hargobind) release from imprisonment under Emperor Jahangir.
Diwali is traditionally celebrated with worship, sharing sweets, fireworks and lights, typically lasting five days. This year, it’s from Friday, 10 to Tuesday, 14 November, 2o23. Here’s a lowdown on what each day tends to look like:
- First day: Dhanteras, when businesses in India mark the first day of their financial year.
- The second day is Chotti Diwali (small Diwali), a lead-up to the big celebration the following day that is associated with Lord Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasura.
- The third day is Diwali, the biggest day of Hindu celebrations almost everywhere in India. On this day, families worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and have a pooja (prayer ceremony) in her honour.
- The fourth day has more low-key celebrations and is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India and South Asia — it’s also considered the first day of the Indian New Year in Gujarat.
- The last day is Bhai Dooj, which honours the special bond between brothers and sisters.
In all, it’s five days of partying, prayer, being with family and friends, eating well, dressing up and gifting. Each family has its own traditions, some call friends over for a game of poker and others love a Bollywood movie marathon.
Where To Buy Diyas, Candles, Lights And Decorations For Diwali In Hong Kong
- Candle Up — This desi-run company stocks plenty of festive soy wax candles, including Diwali specials like The Kohinoor Candle and terracotta (fired clay) picks. candleupworld.com
- IKEA — We love these festive red berry-scented and clay-coloured amber and rose-scented tealights for Diwali. Pair with a stunning holder, like this gold lotus-shaped option, this lantern-like one or a simple glass pick. And you can always grab some electric tea lights, candles and string fairy lights here. www.ikea.com.hk
- Inside Living — Drop by any of its locations to pick up handmade diyas (clay lamps, pictured above) and festive candle holders. inside-store.com
- Indigo Living — There are some gorgeous candle holders here, like these brass deer (as the story goes, Rama and Sita came across a deer with silver antlers, a golden hide, shiny black hooves and eyes as blue as sapphires) and swan picks. Go all out with this gold and marble option or this “trumpet flower” candle holder. Buy once and then bring it out again and again! www.indigo-living.com
- Partytime — Colourful Diwali decorations for your home like paper buntings, plates, hanging decorations and napkins. www.partytime.com.hk
- Lush — Perfect for gifting! Diwali-themed bubble bars, knot wraps, shower gels and more. www.lush.com
- You can always head to Chungking Mansions and Mirador Mansion to browse the South Asian shops and stalls.
- And most Indian markets and stores across Hong Kong stock diyas almost all year round.
- If you have time for shipping, we love browsing through Etsy.
Where To Buy Ethnic Indian Wear And Dresses For Diwali In Hong Kong
We’re not short of options in Hong Kong. If you’re looking for affordable yet stylish outfits, head to the first and second floors of Mirador Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui where you’ll find many stores selling everything from sarees, sherwanis and lehengas to jootis, bangles and bindis to complete your look. For online shoppers, ASOS has also started selling lehengas and kurtas perfect for any Diwali party.
If you want something equally dazzling (both in detail and price!) but can wear even while mixing and matching a Western look, check out Tabla. If you want something that you can wear not just on Diwali but also at your Indian best friend’s wedding, head to Kanta Trading Company.
If you are a fan of sarees, check out the collection at Ethnica. This venture collects hand-woven sarees from all parts of India.
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Online South Asian Stores That Deliver To Hong Kong
- Tifli — Luxurious, handloom saris, dupattas and lehengas in pure silk, cotton, koras, georgettes and more online. www.tilfi.com
- Shrutkirti — Mid to high-range suits, lehengas, kurtas, shararas and anarkalis. Our Sassy editor Sakina had her imam-zaamin engagement outfit shipped to Hong Kong from here! www.shrutkirti.in
- Laam — Pakistani fashion platform with plenty of designer wear, including bridal. Our Sassy editor Fashila had her engagement and mehendi night outfit shipped to Hong Kong from here. laam.pk/international
- Indya — Platform with a lovely range of must-buy Indian designers with everything from everyday to festive and more. www.houseofindya.com
- Fabilicious Fashion — Super wide range of Indian designers carrying lehengas, kurtas, sarees, anarkali sets, blouses and more. www.fabiliciousfashion.com/en-hk
- Faiza Saqlain — Sophisticated Pakistani wear, with unstitched formals, luxury dress and ready-to-wear. Sassy editor Fashila got her civil ceremony outfit done here, shipped to Hong Kong. www.faizasaqlain.pk
- Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop — India’s leading designers under one roof with a diverse range of clothing, jewellery and accessories. www.perniaspopupshop.com
Where To Buy Diwali Sweets In Hong Kong This Year
- Dilliwale — Traditional Indian sweets and snacks on offer including Kaju Katli, Motichoor Ladoos, Dry Fruits Barfi and Assorted Masala Dry Fruits. www.dilliwalehk.com
- DESI Bazaar — South Asian supermarket at G/F, Sussex Court, 120 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong. www.facebook.com
- Gift Hampers HK – Range of Diwali-themed hampers with seasonal fruits, traditional gold Minakari dry fruit boxes, Godiva Chocolate G Cube Truffles and more! www.gifthampers.com.hk
- Spice Store — A good place to stock up on everything you need for Diwali, from boxes of the ever-popular kaju katli (sweet cashew nut paste) to mixed mithai boxes, beautifully decorated thalis (plates) and diyas (lamps). www.spicestore.hk
- And the Indian grocery stores (see this list on our sister site Sassy Mama) scattered across the city. The majority of them will have Indian sweets right out at the front of the shops.
Festive Menus To Book In Hong Kong For Diwali 2023
Treat your family to a Diwali tasting menu at Michelin-starred CHAAT featuring Crab Coconut Soup, Lehsuni (Garlic) Salmon Tikka and Smoky Tandoori Quail amongst other delicacies. Plus, wine to pair.
When: Sunday, 12 November, 2023, 6pm to 10pm
Where: Level 5, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
How Much: $1,688 per person
Read More: New Menus & Dining Deals
Uncle Desi Food & Sons
Looking to feast at home this Diwali? Order from Uncle Desi Food & Son’s Diwali menu featuring a slow-cooked lamb shoulder and Chicken Biryani with Gravy; it even has vegetarian-friendly delights including Kadhai Paneer and Sweet Corn Chaat.
When: From Sunday, 5 to 12 November, 2023; pre-order with 48-hour notice
How much: Starting from $598 per person; Vegetarian menu starts from $488 per person — order online here
Rajasthan Rifles – Diwali Feast
Light up your Diwali with a journey up to The Peak! For one night only, Rajasthan Rifles will be joining in the festivities with street food, tandoor selections and an assortment of braised meats and curries along with unlimited servings of beverages.
When: Sunday, 12 November, 2023
Where: Shop G01, G/F, The Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong
How much: $798 per person
Editor’s Note: A version of “How To Celebrate Diwali In Hong Kong” was originally published on our sister site Sassy Mama by Simran and was adjusted and updated for Sassy Hong Kong in November 2023 by Sakina Abidi. With thanks to Najuka Redkar, Anita Balagopalan and Fashila Kannaka for their contribution.
Main image courtesy of RDNE Stock project via Pexels, image 1 courtesy of Udayaditya Barua via Pexels, image 2 courtesy of RDNE Stock project via Pexels, image 3 courtesy of Inside Living Hong Kong, image 4 courtesy of Yan Krukau via Pexels, image 5 courtesy of Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop via Facebook, image 6 courtesy of Dilliwale Hong Kong via Facebook, image 7 courtesy of CHAAT.