by LAUREN CODLING

POLITICIAL leaders have paid tribute to the Asian community on the occasion of Diwali.

Prime minister Theresa May said she was “delighted” to send her best wishes to Hindus across the UK as communities joined to celebrate the festival.

She said Diwali reminded people of the significance of dispelling ignorance and promoting tolerance, giving everyone the opportunity to teach respect and honour.

“It is a festival which I greatly enjoy celebrating each year with a reception in Downing Street, as well as attending joyful festivities in my own constituency,” May said.

She added: “The Hindu community is recognised for sowing the seeds of integration, as well as its desire to extend the hand of friendship and its belief in hard work. These values have helped to make the UK the successful, outward-looking nation that it is today.”

According to officials, the prime minister’s Diwali celebrations were expected to take place at Downing Street next week.

This year, the festival will be celebrated on Wednesday (7).

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent his wishes to everyone celebrating the festival of light, as well as Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities across the world.

He said he was “delighted” that the UK hosted some of the biggest Diwali celebrations
outside of India.

“It is a truly joyous celebration for all,” Corbyn said. “As the fireworks light up across our skies for Diwali, let us remember to light up our hearts too – to love one another and to care for each other.”

British-Indian MP Priti Patel, who hosted Diwali celebrations at Downing Street last year, wished all members of the Indian community a “special” and “wonderful” Diwali.

“I hope and pray that the lights of Diwali illuminate our communities at this auspicious time,” the MP for Witham said. She added that the festivities were a time of learning and reflection and to look forward to the future.

“In the uncertain times in which we live, we can all draw hope and inspiration from the values we celebrate during Diwali,” Patel said. “We can all learn how to work harder, contribute more to our communities and be better people.”

A number of Diwali celebrations took place in the capital over the weekend, including a firework display in Brent and Harrow last Saturday (3) and Wembley Park last Sunday (4).

Thousands of Londoners and visitors to the capital gathered in Trafalgar Square on October 28 for the festival of light.

A mass ghoomar dance at London’s Trafalgar Square

The celebration, which was attended by London mayor Sadiq Khan, included dancers performing a mass ghoomar Rajasthani folk dance.

“Amazing atmosphere here at Diwali London, celebrating the festival that marks the triumph of the light over darkness,” Khan said.

“Fantastic to see Londoners from all walks of life enjoying the celebrations.”

Events were also expected to take place on Wednesday at London’s BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. A firework display and traditional food were expected to be on offer for visitors.