By Anandi Shah
Diwali, otherwise known as Deepavali, meaning ‘The Festival of Lights’ has been celebrated in the last few days across the world and indeed in Harrow, which has a very high South Asian population.
Last year, COVID put a dent in the plans for many families, organisations and communities to celebrate Diwali as usual. In the lucky absence of another government-imposed lockdown this year, celebrators were able to observe the festival in virtually the same way as they would have done before the pandemic hit.
Of course Harrow Town Centre did not forgo festivities and marked the occasion with a special rangoli painting stall, for shoppers and members of the public to try their hand at painting the designs. Rangoli is an art form that originated in the Indian subcontinent in which patterns are created on the floor or a tabletop using materials such as powdered lime stone, red ochre, dry rice flour, coloured sand, quartz powder, flower petals, and coloured rocks. The rangoli patterns represents the happiness, positivity and liveliness of a household, and is intended to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, to whom festival goers offer prayers to receive Her blessings and good fortune.
‘Harrow is an example to other countries as to how we should live’
The key event was the switching on of the Diwali lights, ignited by special guest, the Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Ghazanfar Ali, who gave a rousing speech on Harrow’s diversity and highlighted how the borough was a mix of different communities and people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life: ‘We are very lucky to live in Harrow, we are a very diverse community, we speak 100+ languages. We have every religion, every culture.
The beauty of these festivals means we celebrate together.’ Most importantly, the Mayor stressed how proud he was to represent Harrow, in which he has resided for 40 years and has never come across any discrimination. The event was supplemented by the serving of delectable snacks and chai or masala tea provided by Indian Street Food that is located within St Ann’s Shopping Centre.
Another surprise event was the official opening by the Mayor of The Landmark, the new department store that has replaced Harrow’s branch of the former long-running and much loved Debenhams store that sadly closed down permanently earlier this year. Some lucky members of the public were able to step foot inside the new store for the first time and just like Debenhams, features an eclectic choice of retail.
Harrow Online would like to wish everyone a Happy Diwali and New Year!