TWO major celebrations for Hindu festivals have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The nine-day Navratri Festival, and the Diwali festival of light would have both taken place within the next month.

Last year, Bolton Hindu Forum brought the key events into the town centre, hosting a huge Diwali on the Square festival with a lantern parade and illuminations shown on the town hall.

After last year's success, the group had hoped to bring both events to the town with bigger and better festivities, but have sadly had to cancel the physical celebrations.

Instead, the group will host two virtual events, with multiple ways for the people of Bolton to get involved.

Manu Mistry, chief executive of the Bolton Hindu Forum, is looking forward to trying out the new format.

He said: "We really pulled out all the stops to make it as big as it was last year and we wanted to make it even bigger.

"In a way, moving the festivities online will reach a wider community, a lot of people will be able to join us that wouldn't have made it person.

"It's tough times at the moment so we've got to look at the positives."

Navratri, the Sanskrit word for "nine nights", is a time to worship Durga, the female form of the divine and her nine forms.

Also known as Durga Puja, where puja, or pooja, is the act of worship or a prayer ritual, festivities last for nine days, with many Hindus fasting or eating a special diet.

The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, marking a battle between Durga and the demon, Mahishasura.

He wanted to marry Durga because of her beauty, but she would only accept if he defeated her in battle, so the pair fought for nine days and nine nights, before Durga killed the buffalo-headed demon on the tenth day.

This year, the festival will take place over Zoom, with a live stream available on Facebook and YouTube.

From 7-10pm on October 17 to October 25, musicians from India will play live music for people to dance along to, with workshops taking place from 6pm each evening to learn the steps.

For Diwali, 200 households across the borough will have a chance to take part in a free lantern making activity – with kits handed out in early November in time for the festival on November 14.

Funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the free kits will be delivered to your door, with an online tutorial hosted by a professional lantern artist to help.

Email with your address to request a lantern kit.