Leicester candidates vying to rescue city’s iconic Diwali Lights

Leicester candidates vying to rescue city’s iconic Diwali Lights

Leicester’s world-famous Diwali Lights have emerged as a key election battleground between the two main British Indian candidates in the July 4 General Election – Rajesh Agrawal contesting as the Labour Party candidate and Shivani Raja picked by the Conservatives for the Leicester East constituency.

Agrawal, London’s former Deputy Mayor for Business, recently secured a meeting with the Leicester City Council Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, to make the case for continuing funding for the city’s Diwali celebrations due to its enormous cultural and economic importance to the city.

Meanwhile, Raja is running an online petition entitled ‘Save Leicester’s iconic Diwali Celebrations’, which has attracted hundreds of signatures since it was launched over the weekend.

According to the local council, Leicester‘s celebration of Diwali is one of the biggest outside of India, with everything from dance, fireworks, food and fashion making it the perfect place to enjoy the Festival of Lights. The festivities kick off with the city’s famous Lights switch-on on the Golden Mile and culminates with a glorious fireworks display and entertainment on Diwali Day. There is also a selection of events taking place around the city during the fortnight of festivities.

However, there have been reports of funding being cut for this decades-old tradition due to financial pressures. Mayor Soulsby was quoted as saying during a councillors’ session last year: “The funding that is for the wonderful Diwali Festival, which we are so proud of, is very substantial indeed.

"Both in the amount of money that goes into it, but also the amount of money that goes into it compared with other festivals. We are now being forced to reduce our spending down.”

This could mean that unless local businesses and shops lining Leicester’s Belgrave Road, known as the Golden Mile, are able to raise enough funds, the annual tradition at the heart of the British Indian community and attended annually by nearly 40,000 people from all over the UK may be discontinued.

This regular fixture in Leicester’s festive calendar, resonating beyond just the Hindu community, has no wonder found its way into the General Election campaign.

*Info: Change.Org


Leicester candidates vying to rescue city’s iconic Diwali Lights
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