On 24 October 2021, thousands of people flocked to Leicester’s Golden Mile to watch the Diwali lights being switched on.
In a celebration that is widely regarded to be the biggest Diwali event outside of India, crowds came together after 18 months and were treated to festivities that included live screen broadcasting, a firework garden and street performers.
As an annual event, there are many features of the night that have become familiar to regular attendees, however, due to covid-19 restrictions some new measures had instead been put in place.
Rather than the main stage, three large screens broadcasting a cultural programme were dotted around the area in an attempt to split up the crowds. The regular firework display had been replaced by a fire garden and the number of attendees had been reduced. Nevertheless, there was the familiar buzz of excitement amongst the crowd, particularly as the event had been cancelled the previous year due to pandemic.
Deputy City Mayor, Cllr Piara Singh Clair MBE, who was also in attendance at the event, expressed that the health and safety of attendees was the organisers’ biggest priority: “We tried our best to spread out [the crowd] with three different screens, with three different areas… I am conscious that nationally, numbers are rising.”
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester (which sponsored the event), said: “We were very keen to sponsor this event because it’s such an important event for the Leicester city.
“I think it’s important for the community to come back and I’m pleased to see so many people are wearing masks and taking necessary precautions.”
By Gita Sarasia