YAA Staff celebrate Diwali

Each year, Yorkshire Air Ambulance responds to more than 1,300 incidents across the county and the charity provides a life-saving rapid response treatment for everyone, regardless of their age, gender or background.

According to the 2011 Census[i], Yorkshire is the most ethnically diverse region in England. Diwali, or Deepavali which is also known, is India’s biggest and most important festival of the year, celebrated by millions of people worldwide, including thousands of people across Yorkshire.

Diwali takes place annually and lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year. The exact dates change each year and is determined by the position of the moon and usually falls between October and November.

Diwali isn’t just celebrated by Hindu’s, it is also celebrated by Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. The form of the celebration will vary across India and around the world too. In today’s society, people from various backgrounds and cultures get together and celebrate Diwali with their friends, families and colleagues. The word Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s sometimes called) means “row of lights” in Sanskrit, which is an ancient language used and is still used in India.

During the festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas. Diwali is a time filled with light and love; a time when Indians all over the world rejoice. It is the darkest night of the darkest period, yet it is a celebration of light!

Many families spend the festivities enjoying the company and sharing meals with friends and family, performing acts of Dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service), cleaning their homes and exchanging small gifts. Gifts are often sweets and dry fruits as well as other small but meaningful presents.

To learn more about the festival which is celebrated by many of our donors and patients, one of our West Yorkshire Community Fundraisers, Angela Vyas, who will be celebrating Diwali this year with her friends and family, put together a small presentation for staff.  Alongside this, Walk the Plant, a National Portfolio of Arts Council England, who have successfully organised Diwali events across the North West, kindly provided lantern kits for the staff to get involved in the festivities and produce their own Diwali lanterns.

Each lantern has been hand decorated by our fundraising, administrative and marketing staff in their spare time to learn the meaning of Diwali.

Angela said: “This project has been a great chance for us to celebrate the diversity across our region and learn more about our supporters and their religions such as the Bradford and Leeds Gurdwaras who have been incredibly supportive for our charity and have provided vital assistance for our Building Bridges campaign which aims to celebrate diversity, encourage integration and help break down barriers, whilst increasing understanding and develop long-lasting partnerships with communities across the region. It was also a fantastic opportunity for me to share one of the main festivals that I celebrate each year and to show my colleagues how much it means to me and many people across Yorkshire.”

[i] https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/uk-population-by-ethnicity/national-and-regional-populations/regional-ethnic-diversity/latest