Impressive turnout for annual Hindu festival


New College was lit up on Saturday night as members of Swindon’s Tamil community came together to celebrate Diwali.

An evening of entertainment saw lively dances and colourful costumes and the event closed with a spectacular firework display as its finale.

Now in its ninth year, the event is organised by the Swindon Tamil Association to mark the biggest event in the Hindu calendar, the festival of light.

Each year it has grown bigger as interest has increased and Saturday saw more than 120 performers of all ages take part, the most yet.

Aruna Thiagarajah, who is a member of the association, said: “As each year has passed more and more people have become interested in these celebrations, “When we first started there were only 20 children but now there are more than 100.

“We teach them the dances and the music at our school which they have practiced for this evening.

“My eight-month-old grandaughter is in it and there are some dancers in their thirties so there is lots of variety.

“Next year is our tenth anniversary so we hope it will be the biggest one yet.”

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of light and is celebrated all over the world. The event’s importance was evident as the college auditorium filled up with more than 100 people of all ages eager to watch the show.

Aruna said: “The festival celebrates the chasing away of darkness and the bringing of light into the world. It is where we banish away things like hate and spread a message of love, sharing and caring.

“It originated in India and the exact reasons for celebrating it are different in various places.

“The celebrations are something we all look forward to. The clothes we wear are all brand new.

“Children especially like it because of all the sweets and fireworks.”

The Tamil Association hold regular classes where they teach the traditional culture and language. As the association has expanded people from other cultures have come to them and taken an interest in the Diwali Festival.

“Everyone is invited to celebrate Deepavali and we see people from many cultures and backgrounds joining us,” said Aruna.

“There is one English woman who went to India to teach English. When she came back she wanted to learn the Tamil language and came to our lessons.”