Diwali was celebrated for the first time at the 10 Downing Street amid chanting of Vedic prayers for world peace, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown terming it a "historic event".
"This is a great day for Downing Street, a great day for us and a great day for Britain to celebrate Diwali for the first time in Downing Street. This is a historic event," a beaming Brown told a packed gathering in the Pillared Room of his official residence last evening after formally lighting the lamp.
Thanking the Indian comunity for their cultural and economic contribution to British life, Brown said he looked forward to holding a Diwali reception every year.
The Prime Minister was presented with a garland and a model of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, popularly known as the Neasden Temple, in north London.
The new Indian High Commissioner Nalin Surie, NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul, NRI entrepreneur Sir Gulam Noon, hotelier Joginder Sangar, former minister Keith Vaz and noted Indian artist M F Hussain were among those present on the occasion.
Earlier Brown said in a message: "as people come together for the beginning of Diwali, the festival of lights, we all have the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed, and to face the future with renewed hope - as the story of Rama and Sita and how good betters evil is brought alive once again". PTI