Harrow Council said it is important to champion diversity in society, as thousands of people in the borough celebrated Diwali.

Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across Harrow marked the festival yesterday by lighting candles and letting off fireworks.

The “largest Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in the UK” were held at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – also known as Neasden Temple – in neighbouring Brent.

Cllr Sue Anderson, responsible for community engagement at Harrow Council, said the festival was a perfect example of what makes Britain – and in particular Harrow – a great place to live.

She said: “In Harrow, we are proud of our diversity and love learning and celebrating with each other.

“Diwali is huge for the Indian community but what I love about Harrow is that everyone wants to embrace each other’s cultures.

“Diwali is on the schools’ calendars and very much a part of mainstream activities at the libraries and the Arts Centre.

“As the festival of light, it was celebrated jointly with Guy Fawkes Night at Byron Park this weekend.

“How lucky our children are to experience a coming together of the greater community to understand and mark not only Christmas but the likes of Diwali, Eid and Chanukah, too.”

Her comments come after two Harrow MPs called for public holidays to be observed on some non-Christian holidays.

Gareth Thomas, a Labour MP who represents Harrow West, also championed his party’s pledge to introduce public holidays for national days in the United Kingdom.

He has previously spoken of his pride in living in and working for a borough with such a diverse population.