THE nine-day Hindu festival of Navratri was celebrated by more than 300 people at the Hindu temple in Thomas Holden Street, Bolton, at the weekend.

For Hindus the festival is a time for renewing friendships and strengthening community spirit.

Women wore their best saris and men were smartly dressed as they danced to devotional songs to the beat of drums. Each dancer carried a small decorative wooden stick in a display that represented the victory of good over evil.

The end of the festival is referred to as Dashera, where youngsters dress up to recreate the event when the God Shri Ram triumphed over evil.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, Cllr John Walsh and his wife Christine, also joined the gathering. A similar event was held in Bolton's Festival Hall.

Jagdish Solanki, honorary secretary of Bolton Veda Mandir, said: "Hindus around the world have been celebrating the festival, which is one of the most important events in their calendar."