HUNDREDS of people danced the night away to celebrate Diwali at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday.
Men, women and children – young and old – enjoyed the traditional festival, which is one of the most significant in Indian culture.
They were entertained by dhol performers, belly dancing by Chantel Phillips, Bollywood performances, an ethnic fashion show and dance performances by children from the West Berkshire Indian Society.
Afterwards they gathered in the Grandstand to witness a dazzling 15-minute firework display, followed by a three-course Indian buffet consisting of Karahi Chicken, Shahi Paneer, Achari Aloo Baingan, rice, salad and flatbreads.
There was also a raffle with a number of prizes on offer and those who still had the energy got back on the dance floor as a disco ended the night.
This was the ninth year the West Berkshire Indian Society has held its Diwali celebrations in Newbury.
The event has grown in both attendance and popularity over the years, originally starting in a small venue, moving on to the Corn Exchange and now at the racecourse.
One of the organisers, Fahiman Saujani, said: “We are just recovering after a very action-packed and eventful weekend.
“The event went spectacularly well and there were many dignitaries in attendance.
“We also had great weather on the day, which was a bonus.
“This year, like every other year, the function was attended with keen interest by both the local community and the ethnic Indian community.
“It has become a regular event in the social calendar in Newbury now, which is testament to the vibrancy and growing diversity of the town.
“Throughout the evening we try to share our culture, cuisine, art forms and traditions with the local community and to also provide a ‘home away from home’ for the ethnic Indian communities and particularly the children to get an understanding and exposure to the Indian culture and stay connected with their roots.
“Our Diwali event fulfils both these objectives as endorsed by the attendance from both local and Indian/Indian-British communities.”
Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali in honour of the return of Lord Rama from exile of 14 years after he defeated Ravana.
To honour and celebrate Lord Rama, and to illuminate their path, villagers light Diyas (lamps) to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Diwali means ‘series of lights’.
It dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar.