Namaste Kingston lead Diwali celebrations

Early Diwali celebrations were well underway in Kingston on Saturday night as charity Namaste Kingston hosted a celebratory event of the Hindu festival of lights.

Whilst Diwali does not actually begin until November 12, there was a warm and festive atmosphere inside the hall of Southborough School in Surbiton.

The event was attended by the Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Diane White.

Addressing those in attendance, the mayor said: “Here in Kingston, we are very proud of our cultural diversity, and of our different communities.

“We are very proud that we welcome, we celebrate, we respect every difference that everybody has to bring, and it’s such a joy to be invited to share with you tonight.”

The evening was centered around an array of musical talent that ranged from the children of those attending to professional musicians from India.

Singer Nandini Rao Gujar, who has over 80,000 YouTube subscribers, headlined with her unique style of Carnatic classical music that is popular in the South of India.

Singer Nandini Rao Gujar headlined the performances. Credit Matthew Ferris

The audience of the sold-out event sang and clapped along to all the different acts on show as they celebrated the talent and bravery of those performing.  

Whilst addressing the audience, the mayor congratulated all the performances on display as well as paying tribute to the organizers.

“I would like to say thank you to Namaste Kingston, the organizers, the volunteers that have gone above and beyond to bring us all together…I really do think you are making a difference to us all.”

Who are Namaste Kingston?

Namaste Kingston are a non-profit organisation that aim to promote and preserve Indian culture in Kingston and surrounding areas.

An equality, diversity, and inclusion report in 2021 by Kingston Hospital found that nearly a third of the population in Kingston are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

Shraddha, one of the founders of the charity, said: “Our vision is to create a vibrant and inclusive community where the richness of cultural diversity is celebrated and cherished.”

Although they were officially founded in September 2023, Shraddha has run Diwali events before on a smaller scale.

She said: “This is the first time we have organized at this level.”

They also focus on supporting local businesses through offering them the opportunity to showcase and sell their products at the events they host.  

What is Diwali?

Diwali is a five day festival that marks the start of the Hindu new year and symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

The word Diwali (or Deepavali in India) means ‘row of lights’ in the ancient language Sanskrit.

The Festival of Lights gets its name from the row (avail) of clay lamps (deepa) that families in India light outside their homes to symbolise protection from spiritual darkness.

The timing of Diwali changes annually, but it is always celebrated between October and November.

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