Thursday, 15 November 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Brilliant Diwali!
Thirty thousand people packed the Golden Mile for the Diwali Day celebrations on Tuesday night.
Visitors from all over the world joined families from closer to home in a celebration of the festival of lights, marking, for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, the triumph of good over evil and the start of a new year.
Belgrave Road was closed to traffic for more than three hours while the street party went ahead.
In Cossington recreation ground, a lively show, featured classical Indian, Bollywood and bhangra dancers.
Sanjay Hadapi, 39, from Mumbai, who is in the UK for a cricket coaching course, said: "It's the first time I have experienced Diwali celebrations in the UK.
"I am amazed by the number of people.
"It is also very big in India where it is a national holiday, but I didn't know something of this size happened outside India."
Friend Bhavin Patel, 34, of Loughborough, said: "It is the most important day of the year.
"It's a time when everyone gets together, has a good time and eats too much food."
Wassila Maafi, of Aylestone, Leicester, said: "I think it's lovely entertainment. I wish they had more of this type of event in Leicester.
"It's a good, entertaining event for the family and it's good to see different cultures being celebrated."
Mahendra Mistry, 52, of Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, said; "It's a new year, new beginnings. It's a brilliant event, you can't move. It's nice to see so many young people here."
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "Leicester has been famous for its Diwali celebrations, which are the largest outside India and which the city council is happy to support."
Police said the night passed without major problems.
Speaking on the day, Chief Inspector Martyn Ball said: "Our estimate is that there are 30,000 people here, but we haven't had to deal with a single incident – it's a fun, family-oriented event and everybody is happy."
The celebrations, which are run by Leicester City Council and Leicester Hindu Festival Council, finished with a spectacular firework display which drew gasps of admiration from the crowds.

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