SOUTHAMPTON’S skyline will be lit up tonight as hundreds of worshippers celebrate one of the biggest festivals in their religious calendar.

Hindus from across the south will flock to the city today for Diwali, which will be marked with a spectacular fireworks display, alongside dance performances and traditional prayers.

The event celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Festivities Southampton’s Sikh gurdwaras will also mark the occasion with their own festivities, as they see the occasion as a Celebration of Freedom.

The city’s Vedic Society Hindu Temple, in Radcliffe Road, in Northam, will kick-start this year’s colourful celebrations, welcoming around 300 worshippers from Southampton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Basingstoke and Andover.

A fireworks display will take centre stage at 7.30pm, ahead of a special religious ceremony, known as Chopda Pujan. Diwali, which is known as the “festival of lights,” will also see the lighting of hundreds of clay lamps filled with oil, to symbolise the triumph of good over evil.

The festivities will continue on Wednesday to mark the first day of the Hindu New Year, known as Annakut Day.

Worshippers are set to return to the temple at around noon armed with a variety of food dishes, which will be offered to the gods and later shared among the invited guests.

Dhurjati Shukla, secretary at the Vedic Society Hindu Temple, said: “Diwali is a very important event for us. I would say it is equal to Christmas.

“It’s one of the biggest festivals in the Hindu calendar. Everyone looks forward to it throughout the whole year.

“It’s the time that people go out and buy new clothes and jewellery and exchange gifts with friends and relatives.

“Because it’s the New Year, it’s also about forgiving and forgetting, building new friendships and renewing old ones.”