Prague Zoo’s biggest Diwali celebration underway this weekend

Diwali celebration

This weekend Hindus around the world will mark Diwali, the holiday that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Here in Czechia, the Prague Zoo celebrates the occasion every year, highlighting the animals native to India in their care. Filip Mašek, head of the press unit of the zoo, told me more about what’s in store this weekend.

“Diwali is an Indian festival of light. According to an old legend, one important person was guided by the light to his home, and we do the same thing here at the Prague Zoo – we really want to light up the zoological garden.”

Why is it important that Czechs can see different cultural events like this?

“From the point of view of the Prague Zoo, we always want to present not just the animal, but provide context. And sometimes the context is cultural, and with the case of the Indian elephants, it’s important for people to know that they have a strong connection to Buddhist and Hindu mythology. So that’s why we present the elephants in the large “Valley of the Elephants” area where people can actually see a Buddhist and Hindu temple, and this is where the celebration tomorrow will take place.”

Diwali celebration | Photo: Petr Hamerník,  Prague Zoo

So what exactly is in store for tomorrow?

“We celebrate Diwali every year, but this year’s celebration is the biggest one yet. We prepared a special public feeding of animals native to India, like Indian vultures and Indian lions. We will also have a public yoga lesson for visitors, where people can come and participate in yoga for free. We are also doing henna and face painting for children. But the main event will take place at 5pm, the zoo will close at 4pm, but after the zoo closes, people can come with artificial light lanterns and pay one crown for entrance. We will go through the dark zoological garden, which is quite magical, and there will be a special light show at the “Valley of the Elephants”. I think it’s going to be a nice show, and everyone is very welcome.”