When Councillor Derique Montaut realised that Council spending was being capped and this would impact the Broad Green community, especially the Social Cohesion project, he was quick to act. He contacted local businessman Matthew Singh who immediately offered his help to raise the necessary funds by hosting a special event at his restaurant Planet Bollywood in Gorse Hill.
This was achieved by combining Holi – The Festival of Colours – with an evening of fund raising activities and the result was a resounding success.
The details agreed, the invitations went out and the acceptances came back, in fact so successful was the idea that it was over subscribed and any who were disappointed will be pleased to hear there is going to be a repeat event in the near future.
For the initiated, Holi (also called Holaka or Phagwa) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March).
It celebrates spring, and is a time for disregarding social norms and indulging in general merrymaking.
It is probably the least religious of Hindu holidays as Hindus go a bit wild and amongst other things they spray friends and family with coloured powders and water. I am pleased to say that the guests were not greeted quite so vigorously but we were all adorned with a large red powder mark on our foreheads.
Pictured above right: Anna with Adam and his very own heart shaped powder mark
In addition, we were all invited to have a sensational Henna tattoo created by Jaz (pictured below with Jackie), an offer many could not resist.
Pictured above: Emma and Jane proudly show their Henna tattoos
The diners that night included the mayor, deputy mayor and various senior councillors, local businessmen and women and people from all walks of life, but everyone agreed it was an excellent idea and a superb venue.
Pictured below: the Mayor and Mayoress Michael and Sue Barnes with Planet Bollywood owner Matthew Singh
Diners comments ranged from – "Great Experience" (Adam), "Fabulous" (Andy), "Unique" (Daniel) – to "Exceptional" (Jessica). Ricardo Du-Bignon (pictured in the middle of the back row with friends below), a local accountant, summed it up by saying "it was a great experience and totally original in this area".
With live dancers, traditional drumming, raffles with prestigious prizes generously donated by Mr Singh and great company the wide range of the finest Indian dishes I have ever experienced complimented the evening. Crisp Pakoras, velvety Murgh Malai Kebab, and succulent Rara Lamb, it was a truly excellent selection of the finest food, freshly prepared and cooked.
All who attended were in agreement that Matthew Singh is a man with the community in mind, his daughter Dhanveer summed up the evening when she said that her father was someone who was dedicated to bringing high quality home made Indian food to the fore in Swindon.
"He passionately cares about the community we all live in, and he wants to share that, and his love of good Indian food, with everyone."
Well done to Derique Montaut and Matthew Singh – a councillor and a business man who genuinely care about their community, and thank you to all who came, supported and enjoyed the evening!
by Greg & Jo Dunningham