Chance to shine at festival of light

�East met west at the weekend when the annual Indian festival of light, Diwali, lit up Sunday night in Collier Row.

Nearly 300 revellers were in high spirits at the evening of entertainment and fun at the City Pavilion in Collier Row Lane organised by the Hindu Welfare Association of Havering.

Diwali, an Indian spiritual festival, was this year marked with traditional cuisine and a variety of music and dance from the Punjab, South Indian and Gujarat regions.

Havering Mayor Cllr Melvin Wallace joined the merry-making. He said: “I danced the night away and encouraged others to get up on their feet.

‘Proud’

“It was a fantastic night and I was proud to be there; I represent all communities in the borough.

“There were a lot of doctors there and the food was excellent – my wife and I love a good curry!”

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Diwali, which means ‘row of lights’, is a 6,000-year-old festival which takes place at the beginning of winter to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and of good conquering evil, according to a number of different religious legends.

It can be described as the equivalent of a combined Christmas and New Year – with prayers, feasting, gift-giving and thanksgiving.

It is said the celebration, which was officially marked in the borough for the fourth year, has steadily grown in popularity among people of all backgrounds – and the association plans to expand it even further.

Association secretary Ashok Shah said: “It’s a very important festival and enjoyed by all people in India.

“It brings a message of peace and harmony and the winning of good over evil.”