Diwali fireworks light up UK sky

Diwali celebrations are now organised in the House of Commons and many other places and homes while Asian sweetshops, jewellers and clothing shops make brisk business.
The Diwali festivities coincide with the culture of bonfire and fireworks of Guy Fawkes night, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

Nowhere is Diwali's transformation from an 'ethnic minority' festival to mainstream more evident than in the east Midlands city of Leicester, which has a large minority of Indian origin.

Despite rain, stilt-walkers, dancers singing to Bollywood tunes, 'rangoli' and dazzling display of fireworks marked Diwali celebrations in the town attended by over 40,000 people from various parts of Britain.

In 1972, Leicester city council officially opposed the Indian immigrants fleeing Idi Amin's Uganda. That year, the city council, worried that the entire fabric of the city is at risk, paid for a tersely worded advertisement in a Ugandan daily, warning potential immigrants "In your own interests and those of your family you should…not come to Leicester".

Now the same council today funds, organises and celebrates Diwali.The council is led by Indian-origin Veejay Patel, who inaugurated the annual Diwali lights switching-on and other ceremonies on Belgrave Road, where 6,500 colourful lights came on along the 1,000 metre of the hub of Asian business and culture.

Patel said amidst a kaleidoscope of colour, Bollywood music, colourful saris and samosas "We are incredibly proud of Leicester's Diwali celebrations. It's been 27 years since we installed the Diwali lights and it's getting bigger and bigger."

Nearly 35,000 Indian refugees arrived in Leicester in 1972 despite warning from the city council. Since then, the community has grown and enriched a region that witnessed serious decline in manufacturing.

The town is held up as an icon of Britain's commitment to multiculturalism with several elected Indian origin councillors sitting in the same council that once opposed the refugees.

By 2011, experts forecast that Leicester will be Britain's first non-white majority town.

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