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Happy Diwali: Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate annual holiday

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CELEBRATIONS: On the third day of Diwali, Hindus mark the festival of Lakshmi Puja with celebrations in the temple

CELEBRATIONS: On the third day of Diwali, Hindus mark the festival of Lakshmi Puja with celebrations in the temple

Millions of people around the world marked the annual festival of Diwali last week as celebrations were seen across different countries, different continents and different faith groups.

Commemorated every year by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains, the date is one which sees families come together for a day of celebration, and is known as the Festival of Light.

For Hindus, Diwali represents the day that Lord Rama brought his wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshmana, back to the kingdom after spending 14 years in exile in the forest.

For Sikhs, it is an occasion celebrated to mark the release of Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru, who was wrongfully imprisoned by an emperor.

In a message to all celebrating the occasion, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the contribution different religious groups made to the nation and wished them ‘Shubh Diwali’.

In a statement he said: “Families are coming together, lights are being strung up, the food is going in the oven, Diwali is upon us once again.

“As the celebrations get underway, from London to Leicester, Glasgow to Gwent, Bristol to Birmingham, I want to send out my very best wishes to everyone celebrating the Festival of Lights.

RELIGION: Crowds gathered at temples across the world to mark the Festival of Lights

RELIGION: Crowds gathered at temples across the world to mark the Festival of Lights

“This is a great moment in our national calendar and an opportunity to shine a light on the communities who do so much to make Britain great.

“In every walk of life, in every corner of our country, you can see the immense contribution of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.

“Treating patients in our NHS, teaching children in our schools, building the businesses that boost our economy, keeping our streets safe in the police and armed forces and all the while helping to make Britain what we are so proud to be: the greatest multi-racial democracy on earth.

LIGHTS: An important part of the Diwali celebrations are the candles

LIGHTS: An important part of the Diwali celebrations are the candles

“Day in day out, these communities put into practice the very best of British values like generosity, responsibility, enterprise, family. Nowhere are those values more evident than in people’s religious beliefs.

“I think of the people of Neasden Mandir or those at Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick, demonstrating every day the devotion and dedication they derive from their faith by helping others.

“I want to thank all of them for their incredible contribution to Britain. We are better and stronger for it.

“And to everyone celebrating, let me wish you a happy and peaceful Diwali and a prosperous New Year. Shubh Diwali.”

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