Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Happy Diwali gift from Belfast City Council

Indian Community Center logo

Just in time for Diwali - the festival of lights - Belfast’s Indian Community Centre has been awarded the gift of £56,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The press talk about a previous bid for continued funding from “Stormont” (probably DCAL) was unsuccessful. Though my memory recalls that Edwin Poots disbanded the Community Festivals Fund (which may have been the ICC’s previous funding source) and made it the responsibility of local councils. But whatever the story, I’m glad to see the ICC being supported and kept stable.

Indians have been part of communities across Northern Ireland for a long time, with many working in the health service (Littl’un was delivered by an Indian doctor). And over the last fifteen years, there have been increasing numbers working in the local IT industry - some even choosing to stay in Belfast and taking up official residency.

The centre provides a hub for arts and cultural activities for the Indian Community across Northern Ireland, as well as reaching out to the wider community though open evenings at their base in Carlisle Circus (an old Methodist church!) … and presumably contributing to events like the August Belfast Mela - though they’re not listed on the website.

Diwali poster

Tomorrow afternoon - Sunday - the University of Ulster and Newtownabbey Borough Council in collaboration with ArtsEkta are hosting a free event to celebrate Diwali out at the Jordanstown campus. From 3pm until 6.30pm on campus there will be international cuisine, crafts, henna, Chinese name writing, Japanese origami, childrens' entertainment along with music and a bollywood show with performances by Nachda Sansaar Bhangra Group and Desi Brave Hearts Bollywood Group. The event ends with fireworks down at Loughshore Park at 7pm.

Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. It symbolizes the age-old culture of India which teaches to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge.


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