This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Spirit of Diwali burns brightly
From youngsters making decorations to shoppers taking part in a vibrant interactive art installation, thousands of people across Leicestershire celebrated Diwali Day yesterday.
Restaurants in Melton Road were overflowing with revellers, while more than 10,000 people gathered in Cossington Street Recreation Ground for the traditional fireworks display and celebrations last night.
With decorations up in houses across the city and county, thousands of people celebrated the end of the Hindu year by giving gifst at home.
Youngsters at the Kiddycare nursery, in Melton Road, painted rangoli designs – a traditional decorative design used during Hindu festivals – and took part in games.
The children, aged between six weeks and five years, were joined by their mums and dads yesterday morning.
Nadine Farrington, operations manager for the city's four Kiddycare nurseries, said: "It was a lovely day and involved lots of families who took part in games and competitions. We want to wish everyone a happy Diwali."
The festival of lights was also given a modern twist with an interactive art installation using Humberstone Gate's big screen.
Images of people walking past were transformed into dancing balls of light, which were then displayed on the huge television.
Kalpana Bodalia, 46, of Thurmaston, was transfixed by the display.She said: "I really like it because Diwali is all about the festival of light.
"It doesn't matter what culture or religion you are, light is for everyone.
"Everybody is invited and welcomed to get involved with the celebrations."
Mum Teresa Lewis, 42, was also at the screen with her three children.
She said: "It looks really cool and it fits in with Diwali because of the light element."
Restaurants along the Golden Mile were packed throughout the day.
Floyd Rosario, senior supervisor at Feast India, said: "Feast India is generally quite busy anyway, every day is like Christmas. But with Diwali it is even busier."
Ashok Raval, chef and manager at the Khyber Tandoori Restaurant, said: "We get people coming from all over, from places such as Nottingham and Birmingham, who come to Leicester to spend Diwali with their families."
Yesterday evening, more than 10,000 people cheered as fireworks exploded and echoed around Cossington Street Recreation Ground.
The event was organised by the Hindu Festival Council, which has been hosting Diwali celebrations since 1991.
Chairman Maganbhai Patel said: "In the beginning, it wasn't very big, but we have tried to include more people and entertainment and it's grown and grown.
"It's the last day of the Hindu year and is celebrated by millions all over the world.
"Everywhere you go, people will get together and wish each other a happy Diwali – it's just like Christmas."
Leicester's Diwali celebrations, which mark the triumph of good over evil, are among the biggest in the world.
The festival began on November 4, when 35,000 visitors watched a lights switch-on spanning 1km along Melton Road.
As well as the official entertainment at the park last night, scores of other events took place across the city yesterday.