Song, dance and sparklers in a dazzling Diwali celebration

An Indian classical dance performance at Nye Bevan Community Hall. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

A dazzling Diwali celebration complete with singing, classical dance performance and special foods was organised by London Shirdi Say Baba, Hackney’s only Hindu temple at the weekend.  

The all-day event at the Nye Bevan Community Hall in Clapton concluded with sparklers embodying the Sanskrit term “dipavali” meaning row of lights.

The programme, funded by Hackney Council, commenced with a Ganesh mantra for auspicious beginnings before moving onto a Bharatnatyam performance by a physiotherapist turned Indian classical dancer.

The jam-packed hall also enjoyed explosive Bollywood numbers by the group of organisers, interspersed with singing, chanting and karaoke-style fun, as well as a steady stream of vegetarian food and refreshments. 

A classical dance performance. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

Hackney’s Mayor Caroline Woodley and Councillor Anntoinette Bramble enjoyed the celebrations, decked out in religious Indian shawls and moving along to the classical music. 

Woodley told Eastlondonlines: “It’s just an absolute delight to be brought to a festival where we can celebrate light and to remember you must do good to receive good. Happy Diwali! I’m so proud Hackney Council was able to support this event and bring the local community into this hall to share music, dance and food.” 

Swamy Moorthy, the chief priest of London Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, anointed them with an auspicious garb and gave thanks for the Council’s funding and support

Mayor Caroline Woodley and Councillor Anntoinette Bramble attended the event. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

For Hackney’s Hindu and Sikh communities, the move was emblematic of inclusivity and acknowledgement, explained Vijay Pillai, one of the management committee members: “I’m glad we get to celebrate the multi-racial community of Hackney, with a small but important Hindu presence. It’s the very first time [the Council has gotten involved] and it feels like good recognition that there is a wide diaspora [of different faiths and nationalities]”.

James Ageros KC, a barrister who was managing the event said: “From our perspective, the temple represents the Hindu community in Hackney”. He thanked Moorthy for his work raising donations and for almost single-handedly keeping the temple afloat. 

James Ageros KC, sang a bhajan and managed the event. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

The temple is hoping to expand to bigger premises to increase their maximum capacity and host further community events.

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