Festival sheds light on Indian tradition

28 September 2017

Woking community groups have been eagerly crafting bright and beautiful creations for this year’s 11th Diwali lantern parade, which celebrates new beginnings, the victory of good over evil and the triumph of light over dark.

Meaning the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the globe. On Thursday 12 October 2017, the annual, energetic procession will weave through Woking town centre in front of delighted crowds and onlookers. Featuring shining beacons of hope, the parade will be led by live music and performances from Dhol Beats UK and the procession crowd will be adorned with delicately handcrafted lanterns, created by schools and community groups across the Borough.

Preparations for one of the town’s most spectacular and popular events have been underway for some time. On Wednesday 13 September, schools and community groups took part in lantern making workshops led by experienced artist, Imogen Andrews, from Magpie and Moonbeams.

The lantern parade will start at 6pm from Gloucester Square (outside the Civic Offices), making its way into Jubilee Square, through the shopping centres and along Commercial Way. It will then head towards the H.G. Wells Conference and Events Centre, where the Diwali inspired celebrations will continue.

Officially opening at 7.15pm and closing at 9.30pm, the Diwali Celebration Event is also free, with limited entry on a first come, first served basis. Organised by the Woking Malayalee Association, Surrey Hindu Cultural Association, The Art of Living and The Surrey Nepalese Community Service, the party will feature Indian music and performances from local community groups and a variety of traditional foods to buy.

Speaking about the colourful and animated event, Cllr Mark Pengelly, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Cultural and Community Development, said: “Celebrating Diwali has become something of a local tradition, thanks to our very active community and religious groups in the Borough. We are proud to remain one of the only boroughs in the county to mark this event with a public parade and party.

“The colourful festivities give people of all ages a greater understanding of traditions in the Indian culture—but also provide a fun, exhilarating and joyful celebration.

“I wholeheartedly encourage people to join in and embrace the ancient traditions and community atmosphere in October. Don’t forget to prepare by making your very own Diwali lantern.”

There are two online step-by-step manuals available to downloaded from the Celebrate Woking website. Choose between a traditional kandil lantern or a diamond shaped tissue paper lantern made with drinking straws.

On the morning of the parade, a few lucky school children will start the party early with further educational workshops which aim to explore a variety of Diwali traditions, including: Indian Classical Dance (Bharatnatyam), Bollywood Dance, and Kathak.

The schools and community groups which have taken part in this year’s festivities, include: Kingfield Primary School, Knaphill Junior School, Westfield Primary School, St. John's Primary School, West Byfleet Junior School, 1st St Johns Beavers, 2nd Woking Rainbows, 6th Woking Guides, 1st Knaphill Cubs, 1st St Johns Guides, Liaise Women's Group, Sheerwater Youth Club, the Woking Youth Council and The York Road Project.

For more information about parade and to download the how to make a lantern manual, visit www.celebratewoking.info/Diwali