MORE than 20,000 people from all across the Midlands and North England gathered in central Birmingham on Saturday (19) to usher in Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
As well as live music and entertainment, the Diwali on the Square event in Victoria Square had tastefully decorated stalls showcasing a variety of Indian themes.
The day-long event kickstarted with the pulsating beat of Dhol players. Clad in colourful traditional attire, they took to the stage erected in Victoria Square, in the backdrop of the Birmingham Town Hall and the Council House.
Programmes on health and well-being were also part of the day-long festivities jointly organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Consulate General of India.
Ruchi Ghanashyam, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, lauded the efforts taken by the volunteers from the various faith organisations and community groups to make the event a success.
In her Diwali greetings, she also spoke about the rich cultural heritage of India, the cultural linkages between India and the UK, and the tremendous contribution of the Indian Diaspora in strengthening the Indian cultural roots in Britain.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, congratulated the Consul General Dr Aman Puri and his team for his initiative in hosting the event.
Street presented the High Commissioner with an unique souvenir as a token of India-UK friendship brought about by the two country’s cricketing ties, and he was in turn gifted with a gold embossed memento of Sri Guru Nanak Devji.
Besides entertainment and food, information relating to the recent initiative launched by the CGI, Birmingham to keep the Consulate open all days for two hours in the morning was also disseminated.
Later in the evening, the Consulate General of India along with the office of WMCA hosted a black-tie business dinner at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, where discussions were held on ways to boost West Midlands – India trade and investment ties.