Northampton residents encouraged to make their own lights display for virtual Diwali festival
Emmerdale star Bhasker Patel will give special message to mark event's 20th anniversary
Northampton residents are invited to take part in the virtual celebrations of the 20th annual Diwali festivities by creating their own lights display.
This year's Festival of Lights will be taking place on Northampton Borough Council's Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, November 7, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The usual lantern parade of Hindu puppets through the town centre will happen online instead along with diva lights, drummers, performances, speeches and a special message from Emmerdale star Bhasker Patel.
People are encouraged to take part by setting up a bright display with lamps, string lights, or candles to welcome Ganesha and Lakshmi into their homes.
Neelam Aggarwal-Singh, chairperson of Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation, which organises the Diwali festival with the council, is looking forward to the event despite the changes.
“This year we will be marking the 20th anniversary of the Diwali celebrations in Northampton in a very special way," she said.
"Together with partners, we will be bringing yet another year of spectacular performances and lights for everyone in the community to enjoy.
“Even if we cannot meet in-person to celebrate, don’t forget this Diwali we can still bring light to others with acts of kindness.”
The celebration will start with a speech from Neelam at 5.30pm followed by performances from local groups, speeches from dignitaries and the message from Mr Patel, who has played Rishi Sharma in the ITV soap since 2011.
The popular procession will start online from 6pm featuring a new puppet, Lakshmiji, plus Hanumanji the monkey God, Ravana the demon king, Harminder the elephant, Ram and Sita, and Shanti the big bird.
A light will be offered to council leader Jonathan Nunn and Mayor of Northampton Brian Sargeant at the steps of the Guildhall while another light will be received by Father Oliver Coss at All Saints Church.
Inspiration FM will bring the celebrations to a grand finale with performances from local DJs.
Councillor Anna King, cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “Although we won’t be able to enjoy our beloved Festival of Lights in the way we have done over the past 19 years, this won’t stop us all coming together and celebrate from the comfort and safety of our homes.
“The virtual Diwali festival will have something for everyone, and I would encourage you all to dress up, set up a bright display, grab your favourite dessert, tune in and celebrate with us.”
The artists will be raising money for mayor’s charity, The Lowdown - donations can be made at justgiving.com/fundraising/mayor-of-northampton.
A full timetable of events can be found on the council’s website.