‘This is like our Christmas’ - Bristol’s Hindu community gather for Diwali

People across Bristol are celebrating Diwali - the five-day festival of light. 

It is a major festival for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, which celebrates the victory of light over darkness. 

In Bristol, Hindus gathered at the city’s temple in Redfield to welcome in the new year. 

Celebrations started on Friday 10 November and will finish on Tuesday 14 November. 

On Monday 13 November, Hindus celebrated the start of their new year with a tradition called Annakut. This is where food is piled up in the temple to present to Lord Krishna. 

One of the priest’s at the temple, Kamlesh Vyas. Credit: ITV News

Kamlesh Vyas, one of the priest’s at the temple, said: “Diwali is the main festival in the Hindu calendar. 

“About 250 different varieties [of food are offered up]. We’re offering it to the God and after the prayers we’re going to sit with everyone. On this particular day everyone can get the same food and sit on the same table. Equality - sharing and caring. 

“We’ll do two prayers today. In the evening we’re expecting 400-500 people at least, from all over the South West.”

Ila Shrimanker, the vice chair at the temple, said as soon as celebrations are over, they already look ahead to next Diwali. 

Ila Shrimanker is vice chair at the temple Credit: ITV News

Ila said: “It’s absolutely wonderful. Every community - old, young - everybody together. 

“We don’t have presents and stuff, everybody is asking for each other’s blessing. Today’s the day people forgive and forget. Absolutely doesn’t matter, don’t hold any grudges, let it go, keep calm.  

“Today’s the day - it was like a victory over the darkness.”

Pankaj Pandya, a trustee at the temple, added: “This is like our Christmas. Not only in the subcontinent but around the world. They are once a year celebrations for us.

Pankaj Pandya is a trustee at the temple and said: “This is like our Christmas." Credit: ITV News

“The Hindu community is not very large [in Bristol]. We must be about 1200-1300 families and expanding because we have a lot of new people who have come from the subcontinent either for work or students, so it is increasing. 

“This is the only temple in Bristol - it’s a community centre as well. 

“It’s a good place to get together, not only on Diwali but some other occasions that we have throughout the year.” 

Diwali celebrations will finish on Tuesday 14 November.