SCOTLAND, October 19, 2013 (Edinburgh News): Around 5,000 people are expected to watch 30-foot effigies of the demons Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnad burn on Calton Hill during the Hindu festival of Dusherra.
Now in its 19th year, the event tomorrow is one of the largest free independent festivals in Scotland. It has been expanded from a parade through the city streets to include a day of family-friendly activities designed to integrate Edinburgh's Scottish and Indian communities.
Festivities will kick off at 3:00 pm at the top of Calton Hill, with a host of dance acts, including the Edinburgh Bhangra Crew and the Scottish Stepdance Company. Children's activities will run alongside the performances, with storytelling sessions, mask-making and facepainting on offer to keep the little ones amused, while also teaching them about the traditions of Dusherra.
Karthik Subramanya, president of the Scottish Indian Arts Forum, which organizes the festival, says: "When all we had was a parade going through the center of Edinburgh, people just stood and waved at us, which was great, but they didn't get involved with the Indian culture. Now they can spend some time doing that, with the range of activities we have on offer, and kids can get involved with some culture and arts. This works better for everyone."
The event costs around US$24,000 to stage, and currently receives sponsorship from Scottish Hydro and Edinburgh City Council in order to keep it free. "We have people from all over Scotland and even the north of England coming to the festival," says Karthik. "It's the only event of its kind in Scotland and we are fighting desperately to keep it free because essentially this festival was started to integrate the Scottish and Indian communities.