In Northampton, the 20th anniversary of Diwali Lights celebrations is heading online

Northampton residents are invited to take part in a virtual celebration of the annual Diwali festivities on Saturday, 7 November.

Organised by the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation (IHWO) and supported by Northampton Borough Council, this year’s Festival of Lights is set to take over Northampton Borough Council’s Facebook and YouTube channel.

The celebration will start with a speech from Neelam Aggarwal-Singh, chairperson for the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation at 5.30pm followed by performances from local groups and speeches from dignitaries along with a Diwali message from Emmerdale star, Bhasker Patel.

The beloved annual Diwali lantern procession will be honoured in a virtual manner from 6pm featuring a virtual light parade including diva lights, drummers and the favourite light-structure characters of Hanumanji the monkey God, Ravana the demon king, Harminder the elephant, Ram and Sita and Shanti the big bird. This year a new puppet Lakshmiji will be joining in the fun.

A light will be offered to the Leader of the Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, and the Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Brian Sargeant, at the steps of the Guildhall and another light at the All Saints Church, will be received by Father Oliver Coss.

Councillor Anna King, Cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “Although we won’t be able to enjoy our beloved Festival of lights in the way we have done over the past 19 years, this won’t stop us all coming together and celebrate from the comfort and safety of our homes.

“The Virtual Diwali Festival will have something for everyone, and I would encourage you all to dress up, set up a bright display, grab your favourite dessert, tune in and celebrate with us.”

Inspiration FM will bring the celebrations to a grand finale with performances from local DJs. The artists will be raising money for Mayor’s charity the Lowdown, donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mayor-of-northampton

Neelam Aggarwal-Singh, chairperson of Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation, said: “This year we will be marking the 20th anniversary of the Diwali celebrations in Northampton in a very special way. Together with partners we will be bringing yet another year of spectacular performances and lights for everyone in the community to enjoy.

“Even if we cannot meet in person to celebrate don’t forget this Diwali we can still bring light to others with acts of kindness.”

Everyone in Northampton- and beyond – is encouraged to take part in this year’s Festival of lights by setting up a bright display with lamps, string lights, or candles and together, all at once, we will welcome Ganesha and Lakshmi in our homes.

A full timetable of events can be found on the Northampton Borough Council’s website.