Thousands of people gathered in the Handsworth area of Birmingham yesterday for the big Diwali lights switch-on.

The unveiling of the festive illuminations drew a huge crowd following a two-year break for the public mela event, celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Organisers said there had been “huge anticipation” after a long hiatus of physical celebrations during the COVID pandemic.

The occasion also featured live acts, a fair and street stalls, with local music star Apache Indian performing live in Soho Road along with fellow singer Master Saleem.

Indian, most famous for his hit song’Boom Shack A Lack”, recently performed live to an audience of a billion as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in August.

A series of musicians including Apache Indian (pictured) entertained crowds before the Birmingham Diwali lights switch-on in HandsworthSoho Road Diwali Mela
Musicians including Apache Indian (pictured) entertained crowds before the Birmingham Diwali lights switch-on in Handsworth

A series of musicians entertained the crowds before fireworks and the lights switch-on at 7pm on Sunday 9 October, which will now remain on until the start of January to encompass city-wide festivities between now and the New Year.

Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated by faiths throughout the Indian community to mark different historical events and stories but with all of them symbolising the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and is a major event in India and surrounding territories.

This weekend will also see festive celebrations in Birmingham Victoria Square return, supported by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Consulate General of India.

The Diwali on the Square outdoor showcase of music, mendhi, song and dance will take place between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 15 October.

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