Oct 242011
 

IHWO’s now renowned Diwali Lights Celebration was in full swing this weekend gone (Saturday, 22nd Ocotober 2011).  “Even bigger and better” was how the organisers described the 11th annual event, which drew huge crowds throughout the day.

The event started at 1pm on Saturday in Northampton Town Centre’s Market Square with dance performances, workshops and stalls.  Performances showcased the rich and diverse cultures prevalent in India.  Stage pieces included classical, bhangra, Bollywood and South Indian dances, as well as acoustic performances from two different drum instruments – the tabla and the dhol.  Children from the Irish community also delivered a scintillating dance performance widely known as “Irish Dancing”.

Workshops added the ‘interaction’ element during afternoon.  Members of the public participated in ‘how to wear a saree’, ‘how to play the dhol drum’, ‘how to write in Gujarati’, and ‘how to play dandiya’ – the latter is a stick dance from the Western part of India.  Henna tattooing was also very popular, as was the traditional Indian board game known as Karam.

The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the carnival style procession, which left the Fish Market Galleries at 6pm.  Indian dhol drummers led the way creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere for the hundreds of people that followed behind.  People of all ages marched through the town centre in a procession which has now become a highlight in Northampton’s event calendar.

The procession also included children on a float dressed up to represent characters of the epic Indian story known as the Ramayan, which is integrally linked to the festival of Diwali.  Additionally, dignitaries carried a large symbolic Indian lantern, ladies proudly walked with ‘Lottas’ on their heads, flanked by other ladies playing dandiyas.  There was also a sea of children holding bright and colourful lanterns.  Primary schools in Northampton took part in creating the lanterns for the procession.

The procession stopped at the Guildhall to “offer light” by way of lighting a diwa.  This is to pay respect to this iconic building, which is synonymous with Northampton town and its people, and it was this at this site that light was first offered 11 years ago at the very first Diwali Lights Celebration.  The procession also stopped at the All Saints Church and offered light – this was gesture of paying respect to all faiths.

The event ended with the official ‘switching on’ of the Diwali Lights at the Market Square, after which people enjoyed music and celebrated.

Diwali is a five day festival known at the ‘Festival of Lights’ and includes the Hindu New Year.  As mentioned Diwali is linked to the story of Ramayan in which the evil demon king Ravan kidnapped Sita, the wife of the godly king Lord Ram.  Ram gathered an army of saintly warriors, defeated Ravan and rejoined his wife Sita.  On his return to his kingdom devotees light lanterns to illuminate Lord Ram and Sita’s path and since that day people have lit lanterns and diwas during Diwali and hence why its known as the festival of lights.

A warm Happy Diwali and New Year to everyone.

PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT
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