Brighton Museum celebrates Diwali with 10th Indian Weekend

By Kayleigh Lewis

Last week Brighton Museum hosted the city’s 10th Indian Weekend attracting more than 1,600 visitors.

This year’s event celebrated both the 90th anniversary of Brighton’s India Gate and 20 years of the Women’s Hindu Group. As always it also celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of light.

To honour these events the museum put on an array of Indian-inspired entertainment. Saturday saw the opening of the museum’s new Ragamala exhibition, a collection of miniature music-inspired paintings which tell tales of love and devotion.

On Sunday the museum had a number of modern and traditional Indian-themed exhibitions such as henna painting, a Bollywood dancing workshop, sitar playing and an Indian clothing display, to name but a few.

Dance teacher Kaneen Morgan said: “Teaching Bollywood [dancing] is such a fun way to teach people about Indian culture. It’s great to see that people are keen to get involved and there were so many children here today.”

Many of the festivities were organised with the Hindu Women’s Group.

Brighton Museum’s Ellie Newland, who organised the event, said of the group: “They really are brilliant, there’s no way we could run this event without them.”

The museum and art gallery are located within the Royal Pavilion buildings, which was a fitting place for such an occasion given its historical ties with India.

During the First World War (1914-18), many wounded Indian soldiers who had fought alongside the British were hospitalised at various locations around the city, including the Dome, Corn Exchange and Pavilion.

As a thank you for this hospitality the Maharajah of Patiala donated the Southern gateway to the people of Brighton. To celebrate the anniversary of the gate a commemorative mela, an Indian celebration, was held and a display about its history formed part of the weekend’s events.

Sunila Chotai, from the Hindu Women’s Group, said: “We have been doing this event for many years now and each year it goes from strength to strength.

“Unlike other such events around the country this event is special as Brighton has a strong connection with India which is marked by this gate.”

After the museum had closed there were performances outside by a traditional dancer followed by some music from a bhangra band and some Bollywood songs. It was an enjoyable and lively way to end the day’s festivities with many people joining in.

After the fun had finished Mrs Chotai said: “This is such a joyous event; we have had very good feedback. Brighton is such a diverse place and people want to know about different cultures and customs.

“Hindu Women’s group is proud to be involved in this annual event and we hope to be back next year.”

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