WEARING wonderfully colourful costumes little girls from Swindon danced in honour of light during a dark evening.

The youngsters were the focus of the Tamil Association’s celebration of the religious Diwali festival on Saturday night.

The Punjabi Community Centre glowed with candles and was adorned with orange flowers, while onlookers watched singers and dancers on stage.

The jingle of ankle bracelets and the stamp of skilled feet could be heard while dancers moved elegantly to Indian music.

The Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, John Bush opened the ceremony by lighting a lamp.

He said: “It is the first time I have been here and I am bowled over by the gracefulness and charm of the children dancing. Their costumes are so beautiful.”

Teacher, Rebecca Amlani, from London, travels to Swindon every week to teach the children.

She said: “We use intricate hand and feet movements and facial expressions to indicate our worship.

“We are expressing our devotion to God through dance.

“I take my hat off to the performers tonight.

“Some of them are mums with children and they make the sacrifice to learn the dances.

“If you put your mind to it, you can do it. It takes a lot of practice and that is what these girls displayed.”

Rebecca performed a solo performance in honour of the Lord of Dance – Shiva.

And South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove praised her efforts.

“It is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I think Rebecca is a fantastic teacher as well.

“I have seen the children dance before and she has taught them so well.”

A male dancer also moved with poise across the stage, adding to the night’s line-up.

Association member Unni Nair said: “You can see India’s 3,000-year-old culture alive today.

For example, in Egypt much of the old culture is no longer there.

“But in India you can still see the past culture existing vibrantly alongside the future.”

Tamil Association president Ram Thiagarajah said: “The children have been practising very hard for the past month.”