Wandsworth to celebrate Diwali dance and storytelling


The festival of lights will be celebrated on 30th October.


By Alex Christian, Tamsin Crouch, Sam Murray & Kimberley Reader

Diwali dance and storytelling will come to Wandsworth to celebrate the festival of lights on 30th October.

Tooting Library, Mitcham Road, will host the dance-event choreographed by Ragini Rajgopal and performed by her Natiya alaya students from 11am-12pm.

The free annual event has been running for around a decade.

Event organiser, Therse Rajarduri, said Diwali is one of the most important festivals and the children are top performers.

She added: “It is very important to the community – most of the children are from the local schools and all the children involved get a chance to perform on-stage.

“Lots of children take part and are very confident and in the future they have the confidence to perform on stage again. It gives a chance for the community as a whole to get involved.”

Diwali, held on 13th November this year, is a major celebration in the Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths – its name translates as ‘a row of lamps’.

There are many family customs and traditions associated with the festival – offerings are made to deities, gifts are exchanged and brass lamps, known as diyas, are lit.

Their lighting signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

Founder and spiritual leader of Tooting’s Muthumari Amman Temple, Nagendram Seevaratnam, 76, said Diwali festivities have changed since he was a child.

Mr Seevaratnam added: “Ideally, it’s a family festival. Now Diwali is just a festival celebrating lighting – there’s a lack of family spirit.”

When he was young, children in Sri Lanka and India would play games together and go to their relatives’ homes and exchange money.

He added: “People should celebrate moderately now, as people are out of work.”

There will be other celebrations in Wandsworth but they will continue without any council funding.

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia (Con) said the council will not be able to spend more than normal on such events.

Despite this, Tooting’s Town Centre streets will still gleam with lighting hung from lamp posts from Tooting Bec all the way up to the Broadway.

Tooting’s Traders Association are also planning events along the High Street and all local traders – Hindus and non-Hindus alike, are set to celebrate the festival of lights.

The close dates between Diwali and the Islamic event, Eid, on 26th October this year, may account for inter-faith celebrations.

Councillor Govindia is a Hindu himself and will also be celebrating.

He said: “Personally I always celebrate with my family.

“It’s entirely a matter for the people to do their own Diwali and their own celebrations – Diwali this year is jolly close to the 5th November so Wandsworth will only do a fireworks display for the 5th November as it always has.”

Booking for Diwali dance and storytelling is essential – call Tooting Library 0208 8717175.

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