Diwali celebrations to light up South Tyneside

Hindu Nari Sangh, with Dr Shobha Srivastava.
Hindu Nari Sangh, with Dr Shobha Srivastava.
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The Hindu festival of lights aims to brighten up a South Shields theatre on Friday.

Diwali will be celebrated by Hindus across the globe on Sunday

But Hindu Nari Sangh, a cultural group, will be bringing the traditions behind the festival alive tomorrow night at the Customs House in South Shields.

Shobha Srivastava, the group’s chairwoman, said: “For Hindus this festival is like Christmas.

“We give gifts, share food and celebrate with lights and fireworks.

“I will be telling audiences the story behind Diwali, these were passed on to me by my grandmother, but they can vary between the different regions, and even between family.

“But the basis of the stories remain the same, good triumphing over evil, and the victory of light over darkness.

“There’s a lot of very common themes which are similar to Christianity”

Hindus celebrate Diwali in honour of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana from exile of 14 years after Rama defeated Ravana.

To honour the return of the trio from Lanka and to illuminate their path, villagers use lights to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Dr Srivastava said: “The festival also marks the start of the new year.

“Many Hindus still do this, but when I was a child my grandfather used to make us place our books down, he’d then place the books for his business with them and we’d pray.

“Then on the third day we’d be able to pick them back up again. That used to be the start of the financial year, but obviously now we follow the Gregorian calendar.

The event will run from 7pm to 9pm.

Indian food will be served afterwards.

Dr Srivastava added: “It will be a wonderful night, there’s lots of dancing, hopefully everyone will be on their feet and lots of delicious food to be enjoyed afterwards.”

Tickets cost £8 and children under five can enter for free.

To book, call 0191 454 1234.