London: Thousands of people of Indian origin across Britain danced and drummed their way with friends from other communities to celebrate the start of a nine-day festival of Navratri.
There are reports of several such celebrations from towns with large minorities of people of Indian origin, such as London, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham and Edinburgh.
Dressed in colourful Indian costumes, participants in several places sang and banged traditional Naal drums during processions, and later gathered to listen to readings from Bhagavad Gita. Each evening culminated in a Garba performance.
In the London suburb of Harrow, the event has been jointly organised by the Sangat Centre, the International Siddhashram Shakti Centre and Harrow Council.
Sangat Centre manager Kanti Nagada said, "This festival is a way to bring the community together, a celebration of angels overcoming demons as evil is wiped out. It is a way for people to forget everyone else and come together in religious and cultural celebration."
Harrow councillors, MPs, volunteer groups and police officers also joined the procession. Tony McNulty, MP for Harrow East, was gearing up for nine nights of dancing at various Navratri celebrations across the borough.
He said, "This is a very important festival for the Hindu community. However, it's also a great social event as it brings the young and old together. The Garba dance is a wonderful social consolidation of the evening."
Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent, said, "It is an excellent blending of contemporary and traditional themes, while at the same time having a strong spiritual aspect."
He added, "And there is lots of cultural overlap; it is not just Hindus who come to celebrate, but Muslims, Jains and so on. It is a wonderful way to promote respect and understanding of different faiths and cultures".
Harrow councillor Anjana Patel said, "For me the really important aspect of Navratri is that it connects children who have been brought up in this country with their culture and tradition."