Every year, Trafalgar Square becomes the centre of celebration for the Hindu community with Diwali on the Square attracting over 8,000 people. The annual event is supported by the Mayor of London.
Enthusiastically celebrated by people of all nationalities, races and religions, Diwali, the festival of lights creates a magical world of joy and festivity. It celebrates the triumphant victory of good over evil – and the glory of light over darkness, a beam of hope over despair. The word Diwali or Deepavali (in its full form), means ‘a row of lamps’.
Diwali marks a new beginning, a renewal of commitment to family values, and represents all the good virtues we seek such as love, reflection, forgiveness and knowledge.
Rain or shine, once a year, London’s Trafalgar Square is transformed into a glitz of colour, sound and breath-taking performances. It is of course the Diwali celebrations which attracts thousands of people from all backgrounds to embrace the rich heritage and cultural diversity that London has to offer.
The event which is in its 17th year was first conceived at a dinner at the home of the Chairman of the Diwali in London, Nitin Palan who continues to offer his time and resources to the event.
For Diwali 2018, there was a special emphasis on remembering the role of Indian soldiers in the World War 1 who sacrificed their lives for freedom.
“What makes this year particularly significant is that we will also remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors, over 1.3 million men of who served in WW1, fighting alongside the British soldiers and ensuring that we maintain the freedom and independence that we enjoy today,” explained Mr Palan.
To mark the day and in line with Remembrance - members of the Royal British Legion were on hand to give out Khadi poppies made of the Indian cloth.
Catherine Davies, Head of Remembrance at the Royal British Legion, told Forces News: "It's been very emotive and very powerful, but very symbolic and very important.
Warrant Officer Ashok Chauhan, Army Civil Engagement Team, said: "It's very, very important to remember those people who sacrificed their lives for us, so that we could have a better life.
Mr Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London added that the event represents the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and friendship over enmity.
He added that “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.”
The festival opened with a traditional Gujarati Dance Ghoomar, choreographed by Binal Dance Academy. Other performances included: Asiana, Nataraj Dance Academy, Ganesh Dance, Kuntal, Luitporia, Cutie Pie Dance Group, London School of Dhol, Aditi Singing and Dance, Rajunika, Haryana Community, Bhajan, Soni Bros and Company, Shine Krishna Puppet Dance, Jiya – the live band, Angel Dancers Shiamak the Medley, Aarti and Bhajans by BAPS, Bolly Red Medley and “Remembrance Moment” songs by students from Tottiano Junior School, Camden.
There was plenty of activity in the marquees surrounding the stage. This year ISKCON participated offering interactive stories linked to Diwali. Other marquees included The Diwali Culture Zone, Sai School’s anti-plastic project Save our Oceans, The Soho Theatre Comedy Marquee, Brahma Kumaris.
There was a variety of food stalls including 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.