Leicester lustre leads Diwali celebrations in Britain


Leicester : People braved near-zero temperatures at several places in Britain to celebrate Diwali, with all eyes on the city of Leicester for its breathtaking display of dazzling fireworks.

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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.

“I initially thought of not taking my family out to watch the fireworks, but then we finally took out the winter jackets and ventured out,” Prasanna Shetty, a personnel officer in a superstore, told IANS.

Thousands had similar thoughts. They milled into the dozens of Indian restaurants and stores that line Belgrave Road; the road itself dubbed the Golden Mile, lit with thousands of lights ceremoniously switched on by city mayor Manjula Sood a fortnight ago.

“I bring my children to Cossington Park (where the fireworks are shown) every Diwali. It may be an Indian festival, but it’s celebration time for everybody,” said Natalie Hutchins of Enderby, Leicester. She was among hundreds of Britons out there.

In sprawling London, Indian communities celebrated Diwali in several localities, with the festivities centred more in Southall and East Ham. Cultural evenings and community fire works marked the day in cities like Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester and Liverpool, to name a few.