South Yorkshire Police commissioner celebrates Diwali

Dr Alan Billings

Dr Alan Billings

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Celebrating a popular South Asian festival was South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings last month.

Dr Billings was the chief guest at the South Yorkshire Hindu community’s celebrations of Diwali on Saturday October 30 in the Hindu temple in Burngreave.

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia.

It is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

The word comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning row of lighted lamps.

Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas.

The festival is normally celebrated between October and November.

The preparations for Diwali take place over five days with the main festival night coinciding with the darkest, new moon night.

People also enjoy fireworks and sweets as part of the celebrations.

The commissioner spoke at the event, stressing the importance of good community relations and using one of the traditional stories of Ram and Sita as an illustration of how good can overcome evil and light overcome darkness.

Dr Billings said: “The Hindu community in South Yorkshire is not as large as some minority ethnic groups, but its members make a very valuable contribution to the life of our towns, many in the medical and educational fields.

“The Diwali celebrations are very vibrant and colourful and it was a very joyful event with everyone wishing one another ‘Happy Diwali’.

“This is also a community that balances very well the desire to integrate well into British society with the desire to keep alive its own distinctive traditions and faith.”

The congregation of nearly three hundred were entertained by young people from across South Yorkshire with traditional dancing and a puppet show of the story of Ram.

Afterwards Dr Billings gave awards to the young people.

The evening ended with a meal cooked by members of the congregation, for all who attended.