Northampton, UK… Mrs Neelam Aggarwal, Chairperson of the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation (IHWO), attended a Diwali celebration at Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s residence on 16 October 2009. Mrs Aggarwal was invited to attend the event by MP for Northampton North, Mrs Sally Keeble.

The event was hosted by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah and marks the first ever celebration of Diwali at 10 Downing Street. Mr Brown invited hundreds of people to the event, including members of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities. As part of the celebration Mr Brown lit a candle to mark Diwali and attendees were treated to a live performance of classic Indian music.

During his speech to attendees Mr Brown paid tribute to the estimated 2 million Indians living in Britain:

“I want to thank you for everything that you do. It’s such a privilege for us to have you here. I want to thank each one of you individually. And I look forward to having Diwali at Downing Street every year again. It’s a great day because we can celebrate what you’re doing. We can celebrate your contribution to the success of our country and to the relations between Britain and India.”

Mrs Aggarwal said of the event:

“Attending was a huge privilege! More so, because I was given the opportunity to present Gordon Brown with a Diwali card on behalf of all the communities of Northampton. It is also great to see that the Government at the very highest level recognises Hindus and the contribution we make to this country”. She added, “I am also very thankful to Sally Keeble for her invitation to attend the event and also her continued and significant support to the local Hindu community.”

Sally Keeble added:

“It’s great that the Hindu community in Northampton was represented at this special event at 10 Downing Street . The Diwali festival is a popular fixture in the religious and cultural life of Northampton and the Hindu community has gone out of its way to include everyone in the celebrations.”

Diwali is the most popular of the Hindu festivals and is described as the “Festival of Light” as it signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. The festival lasts for five days with the fourth day marking the Hindu New Year. This year’s Diwali celebration started on Thursday 15 October.