Dazzling Diwali illuminates Collier Row

Red dress: Deputy Mayor Cllr Linda Trew

Red dress: Deputy Mayor Cllr Linda Trew - Credit: Archant

A riot of colour lit up a community centre with hours of dancing and some tantalisingly tasty food as the festival of lights welcomed in the Hindu New Year.

Dancing performances were held throughout the night

Dancing performances were held throughout the night - Credit: Archant

Diwali, which literally means row of lighted lamps, will be celebrated on Sunday but more than 400 people got in early at the City Pavillion.

There were six dances performed in front of 400 people

There were six dances performed in front of 400 people - Credit: Archant

The evening of entertainment included six dances, with hundreds of people taking to the dance floor to try it out themselves, as well as some rather sensational singing.

The Diwali festival is the most important event in the Hindu calendar and traditionally would have been celebrated by lighting lamps in homes and shop windows.

On Saturday hundreds of people gathered at the pavilion in Collier Row Road, Collier Row to eat, drink and be merry.

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The event was hosted by the Hindu Welfare Association which meets at Radha Krishan Community Centre, Church Road, Noak Hill.

The Hindu temple has undergone more than £100,000 of development with an extended dining hall which is expected to be unveiled in two weeks time.

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Baldev Goyal, 76, chairman of the association, said: “Diwali is a very happy occasion and we give presents to relatives and friends. Everybody enjoyed the evening and the hall was beautifully lit.”

Small clay oil lamps called diyas traditionally would have been lit but now fireworks and firecrackers are often used.

For many the five day festival, which ends in line with the lunar cycle on Sunday, honours Lakshmi the goddess of wealth.

The lamps are lit to help her find her way into people’s homes.

Although there are many legends surround the festival, one of the most common is that it marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.

Lord Rama was the seventh reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu and is one of the most popular gods among worshipers.

Rama left his father’s kingdom for the sake of honour but after his wife Sita was kidnapped he waged war and return to the kingdom as king of Ayodhya in north east India.

Mr Goyal, of Parkstone Avenue, Emerson Park, said they held the celebration a week early on Saturday as people worship on Diwali itself either at home or at the temple.

“There are lots of different celebrations and kinds of worship over the five days,” Mr Goyal said. “It’s celebrated all over the world by Hindus as well as Sikhs and Jainists. People decorate their homes with lights and candles and eat sweets and other delicious dishes.”

He said the festival is a joyous occasion and people buy new clothes, decorate buildings with lights and often hold huge firework displays.

The association has been hosting celebrations at the pavilion for the past four years which continue to grow in popularity.

This year Leader of Havering Council Cllr Michael White joined in the festivities with Deputy Mayor Cllr Linda Trew.

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