Crawley Hindu community prepare for Diwali and New Year celebrations

Crawley Diwali PPP-140814-180055001
Crawley Diwali PPP-140814-180055001

There will be fireworks and celebrations in Crawley this weekend as Hindus come to one of their most sacred times of year, Diwali.

All day on Monday October 31 the Hindu Sanatan Mandir and Apple Tree Centre in Ifield is inviting everyone to enjoy food and dance and celebrate with them.

Bharat Lukka, chairman of the Apple Tree Centre said: “People can expect lots of Indian sweets, lots of colour, lots of food and lots of families and children.

“Diwali or Deepawali, is not only festival of lights, but also marks the beginning of the Hindu new year.

“It is one of the most important Indian national celebrations as it is believed that the Hindu goddess of good luck visits homes that are brightly lit.

“Children make ‘deeps’ which are small clay lamps to light and bring the good luck goddess to their home so they can receive new clothes and toys.

“The first day of Diwali is also a New Year of Business. All companies pay off debts and their cars are decorated with flowers and palm leaves to bless the vehicles to run well in the new year.

“The custom of wearing new garments and exchanging gifts and greetings have come to be associated with Diwali, probably because of this New Year celebrations.

“Accordingly most of the traditions of a New Year celebration are all present. The occasion sees the spring-cleaning and white-washing of houses; decorative designs or rangolis are painted on floors and walls to greet the new year.”

The Apple Tree Centre has been now been open and in that time it has become a hub for the community. It is not only a temple, but a venue for sports activities, groups and organisations.

Mr Lukka said: “I would like to thank our neighbours for understanding and for making us feel part of Ifield, to Crawley Borough Council for letting us build a Hindu Temple in Crawley and other statutory bodies,

“And thank you to all our donors who have made it possible. We are now 1.2m in debt and we were £4m and that’s all through voluntary donations.

“It has built up and keeping the cultural aspect aside, health and wellbeing is part and parcel of the Apple Tree Centre.

“We have sports taking place, children taking part in Bollywood dancing. From the youngest to the oldest, it’s a place of joy supported by the Gurjar Hindu Union. I think that’s what Diwali is all about. It’s six years on after a longhaul - 1968 the Union was founded.”