Deep down, we all want to believe that light wins over darkness in the end and that is the principle behind the most important festival for the Hindu community, which has been quite popular on the Costa del Sol for decades.
They explain that in their lunar calendar this is the year 2071, Diwali is the festival that most resembles the Christian Christmas and for many it marks the start of a new year. Diwali (meaning row of lights) commemorates the return of God Rama to his kingdom (Ayodhya) after 14 years of exile and the recovery of his wife Sita, who was abducted by the demon Ravan. On his return, the neighbours of the kingdom celebrated his return and guided his way with lights, such as the candles or lamps that the faithful today place in their windows during these five days of celebration.
This community transmits peace, happiness and respect and its members marked Diwali in the Hindu temple in Benalmádena on Monday with chants and fireworks. Many were born and grew up here, like Dipu Sharma, whose parents moved to the Costa del Sol from Ceuta. “During Diwali we pray, we get together for family meals…it’s a time for spending time with each other,” he said.
Also celebrating Diwali in the temple on Monday was Sapna Kirpalani Sad, a businesswoman who runs a fashion shop with her husband and is from Torremolinos.
“My parents came here for a better future. My father came first, and he opened a jewellery shop, and then the rest of the family joined him,” she said. Sapna was born here and says she never wants to leave. “There’s a mixture of everything here; we know everyone and learn from each other and we love living here, but we also like to celebrate our culture,” she said.
Sunil Tharani, a well-known local figure, said the first Hindus came to the Costa del Sol in the 1970s but they had been in Morocco before that, in places like Tangier and Tetuán. “When it stopped being a free trade zone they went to Ceuta, and then came here because of the proximity,” he explained.
When Sunil arrived he worked in his brother-in-law’s jewellery and souvenir shop in Torremolinos. Now, 40 years later, he runs a wholesale goods company. “The clichéd view of Indians has changed now. The new generations are lawyers, economists, doctors and well-known entrepreneurs,” he said.
Whoever they are and wherever they come from, one thing is clear: they love being here, and it is a place where they can celebrate their culture at the same time.