Blackpool pulled out all the stops with a show of community cohesion to entertain VIP visitors.
In an event, supported by Big Lottery funds, and jointly organised by Blackpool Sixth and The Fylde Coast Hindu Society, almost 200 guests enjoyed a programme of Indian classical dance from Abhinandana of Preston, and a dance performance from Blackpool Sixth students.
With speeches from the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, and the Indian Consul General JK Sharma, the event celebrated community cohesion and the development of greater understanding and tolerance in society.
Ashok Khandelwal, chairman of the Fylde coast Hindu Society, said the evening started with the lighting of an oil lamp.
He said: “Light symbolises knowledge which removes ignorance just as light removes darkness.
“The traditional oil lamp has a spiritual significance for Hindus.
“The oil symbolises our negative tendencies and the wick, the ego.
“When lit by spiritual knowledge our negativity gets exhausted and the ego too finally perishes.”
“It was a fantastic night and I would like to thank everyone who made it possible.
“We were delighted to welcome the Consul General who came from Birmingham and was impressed with the efforts we have made for cohesion and integration in Blackpool even though we only have a small Hindu community.
“Bishop Julian’s speech was inspiring and it was wonderful to see the High Sheriff John Barnett and his wife and MP Paul Maynard along with Councillor Maria Kirkland, who is Blackpool’s cabinet member for Third Sector Engagement and Development.
“We also had the Blackpool Boys and Girls Club present who do so much wonderful work in deprived areas.”
Jon McLeod, head of admissions, liaison and marketing at Blackpool Sixth, said, “We teach our students the importance of working together to create a strong and inclusive community and this is an ideal way of celebrating those aims.
“The programme was a real mixture of talks , dance and performance. It was a fantastic event and through it we feel we have developed real community links.”