Extending wishes on the occasion of Diwali, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday expressed his “respect” for the way British Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have “gone out of their way” to help others during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a video message that he posted on his Twitter handle, Johnson could be seen lighting the lamp. The British Prime Minister said he is confident that “we will triumph over COVID-19”.

“Happy Diwali and BandiChhorDivas! I know that this year celebrations will be different, but I am filled with respect for the way British Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have gone out of their way to help others throughout this pandemic,” he wrote. In his message, Johnson talked about how Diwali this year under the shadow of coronavirus would be different and urged people to follow social distancing in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Namaste and Happy Diwali everybody. Millions of lamps are once again being lit as a spectacular joyful festival of Diwali is  here. And of course, I knew that this year, as with so many other events, Diwali is not going to be the same. People across this country are making huge sacrifices, your lives have been put on hold, I know, your work and businesses have been disrupted. Let’s all take comfort from the meaning at the heart of this fantastic festival, and that the many millions of Diwali lights all over the world shine through the darkness as beacons of hope for a better future,” he said.

“Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. So too, I have every confidence that we triumph over COVID-19. And as we all pull together, and play our part in defeating this virus, I’m filled with all and respect for the way British Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have risen to this challenge, and have gone out of their way to help others from the amazing doctors and nurses on the frontline, who cared for the sick throughout this crisis, to the temples that have used their kitchens to feed the vulnerable and support our key workers,” Johnson added.

Diwali is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar and it is believed that on this day Lord Rama (the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu) returned from a 14-year-long exile, during which he fought and won a battle against the demon king Ravana.

People across India and around the world celebrate the festival by decorating their houses, exchanging gifts, and offering prayers in order to commemorate the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.