Thousands turn out for Sunderland Diwali celebration

Getting dressed for the occasion, left to right, Archana Agashe, Nilima Choudhury, Nicole Trueman and Gaytri Kadam, at the Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Getting dressed for the occasion, left to right, Archana Agashe, Nilima Choudhury, Nicole Trueman and Gaytri Kadam, at the Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Thousands of Wearsiders turned out to celebrate an ancient Indian festival in the city.

The Bollywood Diwali Mela Festival was held at the Museum and Winter Gardens.

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

The Diwali event, organised by Rough Diamond Entertainment and Funky Indian Events, saw dance performance workshops and story telling henna stations held while traditional cuisine was served in the building’s cafe.

Bhangra dancers also performed for watching audiences.

Diwali, a Hindu tradition, celebrates Lord Rama’s return from exile in the forest, which is why organisers chose to host Sunderland’s event in the Winter Gardens – an indoor forest.

Harry Collinson, of Rough Diamond Entertainment, said organisers had been overjoyed to see so many people turn out.

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

“It’s incredible,” he said.

“By 3pm we’d counted that more than 1,800 people had come in which is just amazing.

“We’ve got sitar players who’ve come from as far as Scotland to be here and they’ve been brilliant.

“It’s as authentic an event as you can imagine and it just makes me proud to be from Sunderland.”

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens - Kingsley Venty, Anmol Hussain and Samir Sharma.

Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens - Kingsley Venty, Anmol Hussain and Samir Sharma.

Harry added that similar events should help to boost the city’s bid to be named UK City of Culture for 2021.

“It’s perfect timing,” said Harry.

“These are the type of events we all wondered why the city wasn’t hosting before but now we are.

“There’s been something for people of all ages and it’s just great to see.

Thanjina Begum attends to Shahila Hussain's hair at the Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Thanjina Begum attends to Shahila Hussain's hair at the Diwali Celebrations at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

“We’re already looking at organising next year’s event and we’re really excited.”

Organisations including Young Asian Voices, Sangini, RGB Media, Tyne and Wear Fire Service, Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) and the East Sunderland Area Committee all supported the event.