Last week, Neena Gill MEP (Labour, West Midlands) hosted the European Parliament´s first ever Diwali Event. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is observed widely by Indians across the world to celebrate light overcoming darkness. The event commenced with prayers for victims of the recent attacks in Paris, as well as victims in other atrocities across South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

After the prayers there were performances of classical Indian music by singers from Italy, Bharatanatyam dance by a performer from the UK and speeches from political and business leaders from Belgium and across the EU.

Ms Gill hosted the event with the Hindu Forum of Europe and was joined by the Indian and Mauritian Ambassadors to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg, fellow MEPs and high profile Indian business leaders from around the EU.

Speaking at the event Ms Gill said

“Diwali is all about celebrating light breaking through darkness - an idea we must all put our faith in, more now, than ever before, with the recent atrocities across the world. It is important for us all to understand that there will always be a light within yourself, even when all other lights go out. With this light, let us allow hope and compassion to triumph over fear and darkness.

Let us work together true to the spirit of Diwali, with solidarity, tolerance and respect. Values that we all share across Europe, irrespective of background and faith.

Indian diaspora make huge contributions to the economic growth and cultural diversity across Europe, most markedly in the UK and Belgium.

Helping others is something that we should all aspire to. In these turbulent times we should remember these shared values, but also learn from one another.

I will continue to work towards better cultural dialogue, and these sort of functions give people the opportunity to come together”

Manjeev Puri, Indian Ambassador the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg said 

"I was so pleased that Ms Gill was able to host this first Diwali event in the European Parliament - I hope it`s the first of many to come.

"It was a wonderful evening and a welcome opportunity to show the European Parliament how different cultures can listen and learn from on another to create a more vibrant Europe"