Many Barnet families will be celebrating Diwali this week, following a fantastic build-up across the borough.
A charity Diwali lunch was held at Copthall Leisure Centre on 13 October organised by a team of resident volunteers led by Kusum Israni from Edgware. Around 125 attendees enjoyed a lavish buffet lunch prepared by the volunteers themselves. Entertainment was provided by Bollywood dancers, and this was followed by an interactive dance workshop where everybody could have a go. One of the first to take to the floor was Cllr Gill Sargeant, who is the council’s older people’s champion.
Dance classes like this are a fun and enjoyable form of exercise for older residents looking to boost fitness and mobility, and the leisure centre is now considering running them regularly. So far, the event has raised £2,800 for cancer research at Great Ormond Street Hospital. A great demonstration of the generosity and kindness that is so central to the Festival of Lights
On 19 October, Hendon Town Hall was lit up with the sights, sounds and flavours of Diwali at the council’s official celebration event. A lot of people gathered on the ground floor reception area to share in the event, which was organised in partnership with the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple at Neasden. The proceedings were officially opened by the Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Alison Moore who led the lighting of the ceremonial Diwa lamp along with event host Cllr Arjun Mittra and the Leader of the Council Barry Rawlings.
Children from BAPS recited the prayer for peace, and this was followed by a talk about the meaning of Diwali from Arpit Naik. Diwali is also celebrated by Jains, and we heard from Dr Abhay Chopda of the Jain Network about the significance of the festival to their community.
Traditional Indian dancers from BAPS then brought the event to an explosive and colourful finale, before guests were invited to enjoy some typical Diwali treats.
Diwali marks the beginning of Barnet’s Winter Festival, which will run through the next few months and culminate in celebrations for the Lunar New Year in February. If you are planning an event that brings together the community and celebrates culture or faith, please email email@example.com to promote it on our Winter Festival webpage. Groups can also apply for small grants of up to £1,000 to help fund community events. Find out more here: Barnet Winter Festival 2022-23 (Engage Barnet)
Barry Rawlings, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “As the days grow shorter and winter arrives, this is a time for people of all faiths and none to come together and celebrate the many festivals that bring light to the winter darkness. From Diwali in October, through Christmas and Chanukah in December, to the Lunar New Year in February, this year’s Winter Festival in Barnet will be a time for all of us to enjoy the different food, music and traditions that our diverse communities and cultures bring to the Borough.”