Indians around the world celebrate Diwali with fervour (Roundup)October 29th, 2008 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Indians around the world celebrated Diwali with great pomp and show - visiting temples and gurdwaras, spending the evening at musical concerts and hotel parties besides lighting earthen lamps and firecrackers. In Britain, people braved near-zero temperatures at several places to celebrate the festival. Cutting across communities, they gathered in public parks in various cities and towns for a cultural evening organised by local Indian organisations, the festivities culminating in a final play of light and sound in the skies.
Leicester lived up to its local reputation as host to the largest Diwali celebrations in the world outside India. Belgrave Road, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, which resembled any Indian street, was closed for traffic as it became the arena for the people to congregate.
The weather did not prove a dampener despite rain, and even sleet, lashing the city and the temperature hovering between zero and one.
The festival was celebrated in a musical way in Canada’s largest city, where the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) organised a rare musical evening.
The concert was held at City Playhouse in Vaughan near Toronto, and the evening kicked off with a vocal recital in Raga Hamsadhwani by Indian Canadian artist Gauri Guha.
Then renowned sarod maestro from Kolkata, Prattyush Banerjee, cast his spell on the Toronto audience with his immaculate rendition of Raga Patdip, followed by a small piece in Raga Maluha Kedar. Several other singers also entertained the audience.
This was the second annual Indian classical musical evening by Toronto-based Creations India.
In South Africa, Indians gathered at a massive festival organised by the Rameshwar Mahadev Mandir, in the suburb of Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, Tuesday evening.
Bollywood stars Upen Patel, Celina Jaitley and Kim Sharma were part of the celebration, which was also attended by African National Congress President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma, apologising for being late because he had been delayed in a neighbouring province, made it clear that he had come to the festival only to wish everyone a happy Diwali.
“It is always wonderful for all of us to do our traditions and our customs and to be proud of what we are as people of different nationalities. It’s absolutely important,” Zuma said.
“I’m happy to be with you this evening - Happy Diwali!”
In Warsaw, Poland, the Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce (IPCC) organised a Diwali ball to celebrate the festival where affluent Indians mingled with special Polish invitees that included many Polish members of Parliament.
Krishna, a known singer for his debut in “Chak De India”, was the main attraction of the evening. Krishna and his musical group enthralled the audiences with jazzy numbers till the early hours of the morning.
According to J.J. Singh, president of IPCC: “Diwali literally lifts up the spirits of the Indian community. It also presents a great opportunity to interact with their Polish counterparts, be it business or socializing.”
“The response has been so overwhelming that we could not accommodate more than 400 guests. We will have to find a much bigger banquet hall for next year,” he added.
Diwali was also celebrated in other Polish towns, such as Poznan, Wroclaw and Gdansk.
In Port-of-Spain, Patrick Manning, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, wished the Indian community on the occasion and hailed them for their contribution to the development of all fields of national life.
In his annual Diwali message to the over 300,000 Hindus, Manning said that the arrival of the community in Trinidad and Tobago 163 years ago had helped to lay the foundation of the productive society in the country.
Diwali has been a national holiday in the Caribbean nation since 1966.
Various cultural and talent shows were also organised across the country to make the Diwali celebration a memorable one.