DANCERS lit up the stage as they celebrated the Diwali festival in Swindon.

The Swindon Tamil Association hosted dancing and music to mark the festival, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains throughout the world.

About 250 people attended the performance at the Punjabi Community Centre, in Kembrey Street, which saw children dance to the musical jingle of ankle bracelets.

The association has brought people together to celebrate Diwali for the last five years.

Association committee member Unni Nair said: “Diwali is one of our main festivals and an opportunity for us to showcase our activities to the wider community.

“It allows us to show Swindon what we have been doing. It was an enjoyable event.

“Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning light – it is a time when we move from darkness to light. It has a secular dimension with people from all faiths joining in.

“Britain with its rich multi-culturalism has shown the world how minorities can contribute to the prosperity of a nation.

“Occasions like Diwali reminds us of the importance of that multi-culturalism.”

South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove and Swindon mayor David Wren opened the ceremony by lighting the traditional lamp.

Coun Wren presented prizes to competition winners of events organised by the STA.

Visitors were also treated to a firework display.

The night finished with a traditional south Indian feast of seven courses of curry and dessert.

“The food was the grand finale,” said Mr Nair.

The evening’s entertainment stemmed from classes in Tamil language, Indian dance and music held every Sunday at the Lawn Community Centre.

Tamil is spoken in the state of Tamil Nadu in India.

Mr Nair said: “Tamil is an ancient language on a par with Sanskrit. Keeping traditions going is very important.

“Our activities are not only benefiting the Tamil community – people from other parts of India also come and learn the Indian dancing, including those from Kerala.

“Students are given the opportunity to take examinations in what they have studied.

“We hope some of them will proceed to higher levels.”

To find out more about the classes on offer from the STA, telephone 01793 487471 or 01793 481849.