Next week, many of our Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist communities will come together to celebrate Diwali – otherwise known as the ‘Festival of Light.’ As a symbol of unity, and in celebration of our diverse communities, we’ll be lighting the town centre in their honour.
Diwali takes place each year over a five-day period, with the exact dates dictated by the position of the moon. This year, Diwali begins on Saturday 22 October and ends on Wednesday 26 October, with the third day – Monday 24 October, considered the most significant celebratory day. Although often considered a Hindu festival, Diwali is celebrated by many faiths, with each faith associating Diwali with its own religious stories and beliefs. In broad terms, however, Diwali symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.
We are incredibly proud that for 19 years, we’ve supported Diwali celebrations here in Barnsley by lighting the Diwali lights in the town centre. Historically, the light switch on has been part of a wonderful event organised by the late Harshad Kumar Patel in a bid to create community cohesion and improve race relations across the borough.
Sadly, Mr Patel suddenly passed away last year, and as such, it has not been possible to organise an event of such scale this year. However, we will continue his legacy and his bid for racial harmony by lighting up the town centre again this year. Barnsley Town Hall and the town hall fountains will be lit in bright colours over the five-day Diwali festival, as will the Glass Works in the town centre.
To celebrate the main day of Diwali on Monday 24 October, the Diwali lights will be switched on in Glass Works Square. The switch-on will take place at 6.30pm by the Mayor of Barnsley, accompanied by Labour MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock. The mayor will give a short speech and pay tribute to the late Mr Patel. Members of the public are welcome to attend, but it will be a small-scale ceremony with no official event taking place.
The Mayor of Barnsley said: “As a borough, we’re proud to champion our diverse communities, embracing all religions, cultures and beliefs. The work of Mr Patel over the years has been phenomenal in championing diversity and community cohesion, so it’s very important to us that we carry on his legacy.
“We’re honoured to show our support here in Barnsley by lighting up various buildings, as well as the Diwali lights, as we triumph light over darkness and signify Barnsley’s inclusive and diverse communities. The fact that we remain the only town in South Yorkshire and one of a few towns and cities in the UK that celebrates Diwali by lighting up the Diwali lights, is a true testament to this.
“So, on behalf of myself and everyone at Barnsley Council, I would like to wish everyone within our communities who observe the special festival of light, a very bright, happy and joyous Diwali.”