Celebrate Happiness, Prosperity & Joy in Aylesbury
Colour & Light Fill the Town
In the early hours of Sunday morning, teams of people arrived at Aylesbury’s Discover Bucks Museum. Armed with garlands of flowers, popcorn machines, henna, drums and more, they completed the final decorations and preparations for the Festival of Lights event.
A Warm Welcome to All
As the gates opened, visitors were greeted by a life-sized mechanical elephant in the courtyard. Now, that’s a sight you don’t see every day! Inside, there was a colourful trail with displays of fabrics, lanterns, costumes and rangoli floor decorations. All this was in addition to the coins, ammonites, wildlife and ceramics in the Museum’s permanent collection.
Aylesbury’s Festival of Lights is a celebration of Diwali, however, this is an inclusive community event. A warm welcome was offered to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It is such a pleasure to share the traditions and delights of Indian culture and build community connections.
Showcasing Amazing Talent
Out in the garden, the event commenced with an opening prayer, led by Arsha Dipa. This kicked off a full programme of wonderful dance and music performances. What a joy to see such amazing talent! We were treated to traditional Indian dances, energetic Bollywood moves and rhythmic Dhol drumming. The energy from that stage was uplifting.
All guests were encouraged to join in and learn a few steps. On a chilly November day, this proved a brilliant way to keep warm!
Activities weren’t limited to dancing and music. Visitors were invited to create paper lanterns with Festive Road, get dressed up in a sari and taste Indian tea. Intricate henna designs and face paints were applied and rangoli patterns were coloured in. Some visitors took part in a yoga session led by Art of Living, while others sent prayers with a tealight on a bamboo boat.
Delicious samosas, masala chai and Indian street food ensured everyone was well-fed throughout the afternoon.
How wonderful to see so many people dressed in stunning outfits. The rich colours, beautiful fabrics and sparkles were marvellous! Thank you to everyone for making such an effort and braving the cold to dance in traditional costume.
Other prestigious outfits were worn by some of our VIP guests. Countess Howe wore her smart LordLieutenant uniform. Cllr Steven Lambert, Mayor of Aylesbury was dressed in civic regalia.
Dr Padmesh Gupta from sponsors Oxford Business College looked exceptional in his attire. It was a pleasure to accompany these visitors and share the traditions, sights, sounds and tastes of India.
Bowled Over by the Turn Out
Hosting a November event is always a risk – rain can threaten to stop play! Fortunately, the weather was better than forecast. However, there was another potential threat to attracting visitors this year. That was the Cricket World Cup, with India facing Australia in the final.
With so many avid fans in our community, this could have greatly impacted numbers, but we were bowled over by the turnout. Thanks to the loan of a scoreboard from Aylesbury Town Cricket Club, we were able to keep everyone updated. India winning would have led to even more celebrations, however, on this occasion, it wasn’t to be. Congratulations to Australia.
Light Parade & Fire Show
At 4.30pm, event organiser Poonam and her husband Avi were encouraged to embark on a ride aboard the amazing elephant. They were followed by Dhol drummers and a parade of visit
ors and hosts carrying lanterns and lights through the streets of Old Aylesbury. Everyone gathered in the Market Square to watch the fire dancing and pyrotechnic show. What an impressive and memorable finale!
A dedicated Team
Aylesbury Festival of Lights is led by Poonam Gupta and the Holy Cow Community Trustees. It would not be possible without enthusiastic sponsors, volunteers and partnerships, who have worked tirelessly to pull everything together and make this an occasion to be proud of.
Thank you to Discover Bucks Museum for providing a perfect venue and a hard-working and accommodating team. They hosted lantern-making workshops in advance of the day and helped so much with the organisation. Special mention to Hannah and Darina from the Bucks Heroes project.
Trustees Julia and Prashy, along with our sponsors have given considerable time and money to make the event possible. We need to thank George and Kirsty Anson, the William Harding Trust, Oxford Business College, Rothschild Foundation for their financial support. We thank Andy at Hello Photo for documenting the event and can not wait to see the video and photos. Britponds sponsored the tealight boats, Blue Pepper Printing provided our flyers and Sainsbury’s donated milk and sugar for the chai masala.
In addition, around 50 volunteers gave their time to help with the setup, running of activities, parade logistics, making tea and keeping everything running smoothly. Thank you so much for your positive energy and commitment. We cannot mention you all, but appreciate the support of many members of Aylesbury Hindu Temple, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Aylesbury, Arsha Dipa and the local community.
Did you enjoy attending? If so, we’ll be back in 2024, so keep posted and bring your friends and family along! Equally, we are always looking to build the team that makes this happen. Can you join us as a volunteer, trustee or sponsor? If so, we’d love to hear from you.
For now, carry that colour and light in your heart to brighten up the winter days!
Aylesbury’s Festival of Lights
The first Festival of Lights community event was held in 2017 and we built on its success in 2018 and 2019. Lockdown didn’t knock us back, but it did make us think creatively and technically! We overcame the restrictions with a wonderful digital festival which attracted an amazing 9,500 views. In 2021 with everyone’s wellbeing in mind, things were scaled back. We were blessed with good weather and had a full afternoon of activities including music and dance workshops, Rangoli art and Madhubani art on Diya’s by local artist Harsha Basu, mindfulness and wellbeing activities, dance workshops and performances by local community and professional artists and mouthwatering food,
You can view highlights of these events on the Holy Cow Community YouTube channel.
Following on from the success of our live event in 2022, we are delighted to return for another community celebration on Sunday 19 November 2023. Please follow our social media for updates and join our mailing list to stay connected.
Get Involved in the Festival of Lights
We need you!
The event is only possible because of the enthusiasm of committed trustees, community volunteers and talented performers. They have prepared and delivered a varied and inclusive programme that appeals to all people of all ages, cultures, spirituality and abilities.
If you have time and skills to share, we would love for you to help us with the final preparations or activities on the day. We are looking for:
Can you attend virtual weekly meetings? We need committee members with good contacts, fresh ideas and a willingness to take on actions.
Can you lead activities or make everyone feel welcome on the day? We need team players with plenty of enthusiasm and a hands-on approach!
Please take the time to complete this volunteer interest form
Help us get the word out. Are you a social media whizz or do you work in a community setting? Please share our posts and encourage participation.
Charity number: CIO Registration number: 1194665
If you would like to support the event, please contact the Holy Cow Community team:
via our contact us page. We’d love to hear from you.