Council sees the light over popular festival

ORGANISERS of the annual Diwali festival in Strabane are said to be “delighted” after the previously withdrawn council funding was reinstated.

Last summer members of Strabane Ethnic Community Association (SECA) reacted angrily to Derry City and Strabane District Council’s decision not to award any of its Festival Community Fund to the group. In previous years SECA received almost £5,000 from this fund.

At that time, the funding rejection had put the festival, which had taken place in Strabane for the previous 12 years, under threat.


However following an upsurge in community support, the festival went ahead in November with various local community groups and schools taking part.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is marked by millions throughout the world in a global week of celebrations.

This week, after it was revealed that SECA has had its latest application for funding approved, project co-ordinator at the group, Kamini Rao remarked that everyone involved is relieved.

“I’ve been told by council that it’s been approved,” Kamini explained. “I’m just waiting on the official letter coming in the post.

“This year we applied for £4,980 and we’ve been allocated £4,980 – which is great.

“This is the most we’ve ever had. We’re really happy. The funding means we can go ahead and plan this year’s festival to its full potential.

“I’ll be able to go ahead and contact the local schools to see if they want to take part again, though I think they will.”

Following the withdrawal of funding by council last year, Kamini said that SECA members had been “blown away” by the subsequent show of support by the local community.

She continued, “Obviously the council has realised what the festival has meant – not just to our group – but to local schools and the whole community of Strabane.

“It’s just amazing. This is a real weight off our shoulders.”

Traditionally Diwali in Strabane includes Indian food, music, dance and a fashion show.

The festival will take place later this year and coincides with the Hindu New Year.

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