OXFORD's Hindu community has started celebrating Diwali, with the Lord Mayor joining festivities as a special guest.

The colourful Hindu festival of Diwali was celebrated by hundreds of Hindus in Oxford on Sunday, October 20.

Diwali, often known as the Festival of Light, celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

The festivities were organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), an international Hindu community headquartered in the UK at the Neasden Temple in London.

Worshippers gathered at the Sandhills Community hall in the evening to offer their prayers and respects.

Oxford Mail:

The Lord Mayor addresses Hindu worshippers.

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Cllr Craig Simmons, and Lady Mayoress Elise Benjamin and several other guests also joined the celebrations.

ALSO READ: Cherwell District Council won't give up fight for Horton Hospital

Addressing the congregation, Lord Mayor said: “Oxford is a city of diversity, a city which embrace and celebrates diversity, occasions like Diwali brings the community together.

"It is important to celebrate such events for the benefit of future generations to appreciate the culture and it unites the community”

The venue was decorated with traditional Indian artwork and decorative lamps.

The day following Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year in parts of north India.

It was heralded with prayers for world peace, social well-being and righteous prosperity.

As part of the devotional festivities, hundreds of vegetarian food items were artistically arranged before sacred images of Hindu deities.

Oxford Mail:

This is called an annakut – literally, ‘mountain of food’ – and is offered to God as the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving.

Diwali usually occurs some time between October and November, but the date changes every year.

ALSO READ: Passengers get £5m bus fleet for Witney to Oxford routes

The festival does not follow the Gregorian Calendar and instead follows a Hindu lunar calendar.

Diwali falls on Sunday, October 27, this year, and families are encouraged to spend this day together.

BAPS held a community event on October 20 so Oxford's Hindus can spend the coming Sunday celebrating with their loved ones.

Dharmesh Vyas, a BAPS volunteer in Oxford, said: "Oxford is truly a remarkable city with diverse culture. The BAPS motto is to uplift the values of Hindu culture and celebrate festivities which brings the wider community together in unity."

Oxford Mail:

Oxford's Hindu community gathered for a Diwali celebration.

This year’s Diwali is special to the BAPS community because it is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the BAPS Swaminarayan temple, London, commonly known as Neasden temple.

Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) has been serving in Oxford for more than ten years.

It serves as a focal point of worship for hundreds of Hindus in Oxfordshire.

BAPS is an international community-based Hindu organisation affiliated to the United Nations, caring for individuals, families and societies through its more than one million members, 55,000 volunteers and 3,850 centres.

BAPS is one of the largest and most active Hindu organisations in the UK.