Hundreds of people were back celebrating the arrival of spring at this year's Holi festival.

Families enjoyed the annual Hindu festival of colours with dancing, music, food, coloured powders and water guns for the first time since 2019 because of the pandemic.

This year the Festival of Spring was held in The Patriot's Arms's pub garden and car park.

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The festival usually takes place at the Hindu Temple on Cheney Manor Industrial Estate but that premises was closed in October due to safety concerns due to the damage caused by five break-ins.

The community suffered a torrid time last year as its place of worship was targeted by vandals and thieves. 

But the mood at the pub this week was one of jubilation. 

Asian Image: Credit: Dave CoxCredit: Dave Cox

Members were not only celebrating the start of spring but also the news that Swindon Borough Council has made its former offices at Regent House available for Swindon's Hindu Temple Trust to use as a temple and cultural centre.

At the festival, chairman Pradeep Bhardwaj said: "It feels very good to get everyone back here again.

"People are loving it and we have gorgeous weather.

"We planned to organise the last festival on March 20 2020 but lockdown was announced so we just had to cancel it.

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"We're looking forward to being able to hold the festival in our new premises next year.

"We are hugely relieved that our efforts and perseverance [to seucre a new temple site] have brought about a satisfactory outcome."

If the planning application is granted, it is hoped the Hindu Trust will be able to move in by June.

Dr Kumar Naik, who works in orthopaedics at Great Western Hospital, finished his night shift just hours before coming to the Holi festival.

He said: "I was on duty last night but I wouldn't miss this opportunity; you meet lots of people.

"I started at 8pm last night and finished the ward round at around 10.45am. I went home for a quick nap and then came alone.

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"It's great fun.

"The temple is not only the place for us to worship but also a place to meet people, share our happiness, share our sadness and share our problems.

"It's a place for everything and that's why I enjoy events like this."

In 2019, more than 1,000 people attended Holi at Swindon's Hindu Temple.

Holi celebrates the end of winter and the blossoming of love with spring.

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