Diwali celebrations set to light up Northampton town centre once again this weekend

Spectacular procession returns to the streets after going 'virtual' in 2020

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 29th October 2021, 10:41 am
Harminder the elephant will be back as Diwali festival returns to town centre streets later this month
Harminder the elephant will be back as Diwali festival returns to town centre streets later this month

Northampton town centre will be lit up once again by family entertainment, delicious food and a lantern procession to mark the switch on of Diwali lights this weekend.

Last year's annual celebrations were forced to 'go virtual' by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But this year's events, organised by the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation with support from West Northants Council, will open with food and community stalls on the Market Square from 10am on Saturday (October 30), marking the start of the five-day festival.

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There will be family-friendly activities such as henna painting, Karom board game and sari dressing, with performances, music and stage entertainment beginning at 1pm.

The much-anticipated lantern procession will begin at 6pm on the Market Square, with two pedal-powered puppets of Harminder the elephant and Shanti the giant bird leading the way.

■ PICTURE SPECIAL: Click HERE for the spectacular sights of Diwali in 2019

These old favourites will be joined by puppets of Hanumanji, Rama, Sita, Ravana and Ganesh, as well as pupils from local schools, as they make their way up Abington Street, along St Giles’ Terrace and down St Giles Street. The procession will then take a loop of All Saints Church before returning to the Market Square.

Neelam Aggarwal-Singh, chair of the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation, said: “We’re excited to be bringing the Diwali celebrations to Northampton for the 21st year running.

“It has become a great tradition in the town. Each year we work with local schools and communities to bring something new to the event, and it is wonderful to see how the event has grown.

"Everyone is welcome to join us on the day as we celebrate the amazing Festival of Lights.”

During the procession, a light will be offered to West Northants Council leader, Jonathan Nunn, Town Mayor Rufia Ashraf and Northampton Town Council chair Jane Birch at the steps of The Guildhall.

Another light will be received by Father Oliver Coss at All Saints Church.

At 7pm dignitaries will take to the market stage for speeches and to countdown to switching on the Diwali Lights, before bhangra music and dancing close the event at 8pm.

Councillor David Smith, West Northants cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “The town’s Diwali celebrations are always a popular occasion, with families flocking into the town to enjoy the entertainment and see the lantern procession.

“As always, Festive Road have done an amazing job creating a fantastic procession of puppets, lanterns, drummers and school children.

"If you have never experienced our Diwali celebrations, I encourage you to come along and celebrate this fantastic festival.”