Diwali, also known as the 'Festival of Lights', was celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world on 11 November. Diwali has significance to all three religious groups, making it the most widely celebrated festival in the Indian diaspora. The day is believed to mark new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, with the word Diwali, or Deepavali, meaning 'row of lamps' in Sanskrit.
Diwali also represents a renewal of commitment to family values, with many gathering with friends and loved ones to celebrate the festival. As Indians make up the largest foreign-born population in the UK, it is no surprise that Diwali was celebrated in huge numbers around the country, with many Indians and non-Indians alike participating in the festivities.
Here's how the Festival of Lights was celebrated around the country this year.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in North West London hosts the largest Diwali event in the UK, taking place over two days, with New Year's Day being celebrated by many Hindus on 12 November. Thousands gather at the temple each year to participate in the puja (prayer ritual) and watch the fireworks display that follows. The Diwali celebrations saw a range of food stalls with hot snacks available for the public. A shuttle service was also organised to transport people between the station and the temple until the end of the fireworks display and on New Year's Day.
The temple is said to be the biggest Hindu temple outside India and attracts its highest numbers on Diwali, with 35,000 having attended previous celebrations.
One of the most famous Diwali celebrations in Birmingham took place on Sunday (8 November). Organised by the Hindu Council of Birmingham for more than 20 years, the annual celebration took place at the New Bingley Hall. An Indian cultural show was just one of the events planned for the day, with a carnival, food court, and a Diwali fireworks display providing the ultimate festive experience for all. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Ray Hassall, is said to have attended the event, along with 8,000 others.
Often called the 'Little India' of the UK, one expects Leicester to celebrate Diwali in full spirit. Since 1983, Leicester has been marking Diwali by lighting up one of their streets in a style that mimics the turning on of the Christmas Lights on Oxford Street. On 1 November, Belgrave Road was turned into a pedestrian-only zone as more than 60,000 illuminations were switched on to mark the Festival of Lights. The lighting display is said to stretch for more than 1,000m and will remain for two weeks.
It is believed that the council has invested approximately £88,000 into the celebration this year, with local media reporting that a "fire garden" hosted flaming fire sculptures and fire-jugglers alongside the traditional Diwali fireworks display. This year the lighting display had a huge new addition – the Wheel of Light, a 100ft ferris wheel that lit up the city.
On Diwali day, hundreds flocked back to Belgrave Road for yet another round of entertainment and fireworks.
The Hindu Temple in Nottingham took centre stage for the city's Diwali celebrations this year, organising a mini version of the big celebrations seen at Neasden Temple in London. The temple prepared more than 200 vegetarian dishes for the public to sample during the Diwali celebration, organisers told the Nottingham Post.
Festivities in Nottingham are due to continue throughout the week, with the a traditional making (oil lamp) diya event being hosted on Saturday (14 November). The event is said to attract more than 2,000 people every year and sees people make their own diyas, after which they are able to float them on the lake and enjoy a series of music and dance performances.
Coventry City Council has organised a Diwali fireworks display at the Daimler Green Community Centre this weekend, however, that didn't stop people from rejoicing in the celebrations on Wednesday. As many gathered to celebrate the Festival of Lights with friends and family at home or at local temples, Leamington Spa's Art Gallery and Museum has been preparing to open their doors this weekend for free Diwali-themed events. With many children having to be in school on Diwali day, parents are invited to bring their children along to celebrate the festival on Saturday (14 November) through interactive activities such as Rangoli-making and dance, drama and storytelling workshops.