The Festival of Light lit up Preston’s Sikh Gudwara as the community celebrated Diwali.
As part of their New Year celebrations, the Sikh community were joined by the city’s Mayor, Coun Veronica Afrin, at the Guru Nanak Cultural Recreation Centre and Sikh Gurdwara on Tunbridge Street, Preston.
And with a programme of food, lighting candles, prayers and hymns, there was plenty to welcome in the new year.
Gurvinder Sahota, from the temple, said: “We hold Diwali to celebrate the year that has gone and look forward to the new year which is brought in by lighting candles.
“The candles are lit to bring hope and light to people’s lives for the forthcoming year.
“Though we’re not a huge community in Preston, we still try to recognise Diwali and make it a bit of an event.”
It has been around 20 years since a Preston mayor last visited the Gurdwara and Gurvinder said it was great for Coun Afrin to be part of the celebrations.
He said: “It was good for her to come and witness the event and for her to see that we are active members of the community.
“We like to promote unity within the community and contribute to the local area where the Gurdwara is based.”
Diwali is a five-day festival known as the ‘festival of lights’, as houses, shops and temples are decorated with small lamps called Diyas.
And sweet treats are handed out to bring in the new year with a sweet taste.
Gurvinder said: “We have around 30 to 40 families in Preston’s Sikh community, so around 120 members.
“We’re not a very large community, but it is important to engage with the wider community and look at how the Gurdwara can contribute.
“Our doors are open to all because the temple is also a community centre.
“Every Gurdwara around the world has an open kitchen, so everyone is welcome to come and have food with us every day.
Gurvinder added: “It’s really important to pass on the heritage to the next generation and teach them about how Diwali started and the meaning of the event.
“What we’re also trying to do with the younger generation is to try and mix it in with the culture we’re living in because, obviously, we’re not in India and the traditions originate from when everyone was in India, so we need to be aware of our heritage and the event and be proud of it as well as getting the local community involved.
“People are very open-minded and want to learn, so it’s a case of trying to teach the children in the schools, and even the teachers, about events such as Diwali so they can engage with their peers.
“We never discriminate, we’re very open. That’s one of the main attributes of the Sikh community. We’re open minded and open hearted. One of our main aims is to be generous and charitable and, if you can’t do it financially, you can be charitable with your time and knowledge.”