Over 400 people were attracted to one of the most anticipated events of Autumn 2019 in Exeter Communities Together’s calendar. Exeter Diwali 2019 was organised by Exeter Hindu Cultural Centre, a partner organisation of Exeter Communities Together, in association with the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). The event – comprising of music, dance, food and more – was held on Sunday 27th October 2019 at RAMM.
The event started with Prem Sivlal, President of Exeter Hindu Cultural Centre, welcoming guests and explaining Diwali – the festival of light – including its rich history and the event schedule. The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Cllr Peter Holland, also spoke as part of the opening of Exeter Diwali 2019.
It was a free event and the 400+ people who attended were from all different communities across Exeter and some even from other parts of Devon. The museum was buzzing with members of different communities, age groups and faith groups, travelled from different parts of Devon to attend the event.Diwali is traditionally celebrated by Hindus and often Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, but Exeter Diwali 2019 attracted a far broader audience in terms of people from all faiths including Christians, Muslims and non-religious backgrounds. Not only that, there were people of many different nationalities and ages including children. The event was inclusive and accessible to all with people joining in the dance, art craft, enjoying food and forming new connections all through the museum. This was an effective way of facilitating not only the celebration of identity and culture, but also cross-cultural interaction in terms of different communities coming together and bringing diversity to the public sphere.
What was also impressive to see was members of the community leading in the organising and running of Exeter Diwali 2019. People from different age groups, genders and backgrounds were involved in the event from planning (meeting people and sharding ideas) through to delivering on the day, creating a true sense of community and belonging.
It was, unsurprisingly, the music and dance workshop which proved to be the biggest hit. South West’s leading Bhangra band, RSVP Bhangra, ensured guests not only enjoyed but also participated in vibrant music rhythms and dance moves, involving men, women and young people from all different backgrounds. The room (Gallery 20) was transformed into a festive space with colourful and contemporary Bollywood music and dance echoing through the room and the whole of the museum.
A selection of videos from Exeter Diwali 2019 are below.