British Asia News Network
London: The Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square on the Sunday afternoon of 28 October was surprisingly a full- house. Thousands of people braced through a chilly morning, hailstorm and sporadic downpours to embrace each other's cultures to add to London's autumn brilliance.
The festival of lights lit up the iconic Trafalgar Square as thousands of people from different nationalities gathered to celebrate the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain festival, Diwali. A Mayor of London event, the festivities saw the Mayor, Sadiq Khan take the stage to give an uplifting speech, urging young Londoners to be open. Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala was also present at the event.
Sadiq Khan was urged to shake a leg with a Bolly number when he got on stage to address the crowds. Khan took the opportunity to crack a joke on politicians dancing.
“Politicians and dance don’t mix,” he said. “Does anybody remember Theresa May? There are people in Kenya and South Africa traumatised by her dancing.”
Praising the London Diwali Committee, the sponsors and the participants, Sadiq Khan said: “These sorts of events do not happen by itself. Make sure that the world knows that London is the craziest city in the world.”
“One of the things that we have to do make young Londoners know about the diversity of the city… we respect, raise and celebrate each other,” he said.
The buzz was felt in every corner of the square. Different aspects of Indian culture and Hinduism were showcased in the different marquees around the square. Starting from describing and sharing facts and fiction on the saree, India's traditional attire at the World of Sari marquee, to helping people drape in the traditional attire, it was fun, frolic and educative. Through workshops on classical dance styles like Kathak and Bharatnatyam, the organisers were mindful about involving children at all stages.
It was the first time ISKON got a marquee and there was a constant buzz and flow of visitors as they engaged in various activities in the stall. The Iskon Temple gave children a taste of life in Ramayana, with interactive stories, activities for children like decorating a diya and taking pictures with students from the Avanti Secondary School in Stanmore dressed up as Ram, Sita, Ravan and Hanuman.
The Diwali Culture Zone organised a 25-minute giant puppet show to narrate the story of Ram and Sita. Puppet Designers Gillie Robic and Creative Director Neelima Penumarthy put up an engaging and entertaining show.
Sai School’s anti-plastic project Save our Oceans gave visitors a chance to see the damage being done to marine life.
The Soho Theatre Comedy Marquee was packed as Daniel Fernandes compared a surreal style stand-up comedy from Mumbai.
One could meet the Goddesses and and learn about their virtues in the Glimpses of Goddesses with the Brahma Kumaris stand.
The World War 1: We Remember by the Royal British Legion showcased the tremendous sacrifices made by the Indians of all faiths in WW1. The Mayor mentioned the contribution of Indian soldiers in his speech. “More than 1.4 million people who fought in that war was of Indian origin. We want to make people realise there were Indian heroes in that war. We need people know about the contributions our ancestors have made to make his country as great as it is,“ he said.
The Chairperson at Metropolitan Police Hindu Association, Satya Minhas gave police crime prevention advice during Diwali. Speaking to britishasianews.com, he urged people to be careful during the festivals of Navratri and Diwali where Asian houses are often targeted for robberies and burglaries.
For the foodies, the square was a mecca of pure treat of Indian goodies. Aromas from food stalls filled the air, as warm puris were being fried and street food from different parts of India were churned out.
Dabeli Hut, Mama Smoothies, Delhi Chef, The Street FoodIndian Sweets, Cordial Mixologist, Shocka’s Coconut Hub, Shiela’s Vegan Kitchen, Rajbhog Catering, The Indians Next Door, Poppadums Express and Village Gujjus’s Recipe were packed to the brim with visitors.
It was an event to be remembered – a symbol of the huge cultural diversity and tolerance that London stands for, a true melting pot for one and all.