A Diwali celebration in Barnsley will pay tribute to their late community leader, who “was instrumental in bringing the Diwali lights to Barnsley.”

Today, Barnsley celebrates Diwali by lighting up their town centre, in an event previously organised by active community member, Harshad Kumar Patel.

In a bid to create community cohesion and improve race relations across the borough, Mr Patel, amongst other events, organised the town lights every year.

Sadly, Mr Patel suddenly passed away last year, and it has not been possible to organise an event of such scale since.

Hashard was “instrumental in bringing the Diwali lights to Barnsley,” says his daughter, Nisha Hodges.

“I feel very proud of my dad. He was very much about inclusion of everyone and raising awareness. I believe he achieved that and was respected by all parts of the community in Barnsley,” she said.

Barnsley Council wants to “continue his legacy and his bid for racial harmony by lighting up the town centre again this year.” 

Diwali symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. As a symbol of unity, and in celebration of the town’s diverse communities. 

Also known as the ‘festival of light’, Diwali takes place each year over a five-day period, with the exact dates dictated by the position of the moon. This year the dates are between Saturday 22 October and Wednesday 26 October, with the main day of celebration being today.

The Diwali lights will be switched on in Glass Works Square. The switch-on will take place at 6.30pm by the Mayor of Barnsley, accompanied by Labour MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock. The mayor will give a short speech and pay tribute to the late Mr Patel.

The Mayor of Barnsley, Sarah-Jane Tattersall, said: “As a borough, we’re proud to champion our diverse communities, embracing all religions, cultures and beliefs. The work of Mr Patel over the years has been phenomenal in championing diversity and community cohesion, so it’s very important to us that we carry on his legacy.  

“We’re honoured to show our support here in Barnsley by lighting up various buildings, as well as the Diwali lights, as we triumph light over darkness and signify Barnsley’s inclusive and diverse communities. The fact that we remain the only town in South Yorkshire and one of a few towns and cities in the UK that celebrates Diwali by lighting up the Diwali lights, is a true testament to this.  

“So, on behalf of myself and everyone at Barnsley Council, I would like to wish everyone within our communities who observe the special festival of light, a very bright, happy and joyous Diwali.”