HUNDREDS of people are expected to turn out for a festival honouring the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom.
A group of people from the town’s Bangladeshi community, supported by local Indian restaurants, are marking the Saraswati Puja, a festival devoted to the goddess Saraswati, at The Platform in Faringdon Road, later this month, the first of its kind held in Swindon.
A large statue of her is being shipped from Calcutta to preside over the celebration, which is widely observed on the Indian Sub-continent with people traditionally wearing yellow.
Sujan Saha, the festival’s cultural secretary, said the community had wanted to host the celebration for five years and had to raise £5,000 to put it on.
Sujan, 32, of Central Swindon, who grew up in Bangladesh, said: “This is for the first time we have come forward and taken the initiative to celebrate this tradition and make it happen in our own Swindon town.
“I think, more than a religious festival, we are trying to make it a confluence of both the eastern and the western culture which happens to blend ever so nicely, especially here in Swindon, and also trying to reflect the bright sides of eachother’s tradition.”
The festival takes place on February 15, with various prayers at The Platform throughout the day. Representatives from various communities and organisations have been invited to attend, including mayor Coun Mick Bray.
The main celebration will be on February 17. The doors will open at 6pm, with a sumptuous dinner, followed by dancing and singing from local and national groups, plus a raffle draw.
Also in attendance will be Swindon’s deputy mayor, Coun Nick Martin, Miss Swindon, Ela Good, and Hannah Golding, the former Miss Swindon.
Beetoshok Dee, assistant manager at The Curry Place, in Rodbourne Road, which is supporting the event, said it was an important achievement to bring a festival of this stature to Swindon.
He said: “This is for the goddess of knowledge and wisdom, so everyone, starting from young children at school to adults, everyone wants to be a part of the festival.”