by Ninder Kaur
The Mayor of London’s Diwali festival is returning to Trafalgar Square this Sunday, with an uplifting and vibrant mix of music, dance and live performance, as well as displays and food stalls.
Londoners from all communities and visitors to the capital are invited to attend the celebrations, which feature lively music and dance, delicious food and drink, plus activities for the whole family to enjoy. The free event is being organised to mark Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, which is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India and many other countries around the world. It is being staged by the Mayor of London in association with the DiL (Diwali in London) Committee, with support from headline sponsor Lebara Mobile, and media partner, Zee TV. Western Union and Kerala Tourism are also supporting the festival.
The afternoon will kick off with a parade full of children re-enacting the return of victorious Lord Ram to his Kingdom. Leaving from the Southbank, the colourful procession will make its way to the heart of the festival, Trafalgar Square, where the children will perform a set dance piece on the main steps. The parade will symbolise the themes of this year’s festival; the legacies of valour, unity and sacrifice in pursuit of peace and freedom.
Continuing the celebrations in the middle of Trafalgar Square, everyone will have the chance to join in on traditional garba dancing accompanied by a full-scale garba band. On the main stage, there will be a variety of entertaining performances, ranging from vibrant local community musicians and dancers, Zee TV favourites and professional Keralan acts showcasing the colourful culture of Diwali 2015’s focus region. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn more about the Indian State of Kerala’s emerald backwaters, exotic wildlife and serene beaches on the Arabian Sea in their exhibition marquee.
Throughout the day, a range of stalls will sell a variety of tasty vegetarian food and non-alcoholic drinks. There will also be plenty of chances to stock up on Indian essentials – exotic jewellery, spices, rangoli and more.
Guests will also have the chance to don a sari, learn a Bollywood dance, participate in yoga for beginners and meditation sessions, get a henna tattoo, pick up top health tips, find out more about Diwali and the faiths behind it, or simply enjoy this year’s illuminations.
Children can take part in a range of activities at the festival, including story-telling sessions, mini theatre shows, games, and arts and crafts that will teach them about the origins of Diwali. The National Army Museum will also be there to tell the fascinating stories of the Indian sub-continent soldiers who fought with the Commonwealth during World War I.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Our annual Diwali festival is a highlight of London’s cultural calendar and wonderfully reflects the vibrancy of the city’s many communities who make a huge contribution to life in the capital. The festival’s central messages of peace and mutual respect are of great importance to all Londoners as well as to Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. To everyone celebrating in London and beyond, I wish you a very happy and prosperous Diwali.”
The DiL Committee Chairpersons 2015, Satya Minhas and Varsha Mistry, said: “Well over one billion people around the world celebrate the festival of lights, a grand home coming and coronation of Lord Ram who ruled magnificently to earn the title of ‘King Supreme of Principles’. In the United Kingdom, around one million people from all faiths will be celebrating Diwali this year. We invite you with your family and friends to join us and hope you are as excited as we are to join in the festivities. Happy Diwali.”
Mr. Yoganathan Ratheesan, Lebara Group’s Chairman and CEO, said: “As the universal brand for the world’s migrant community, Lebara understands the importance of bringing friends and families together and celebrating important cultural events. We’re very proud to continue our support of the Mayor’s Diwali festival. The Lebara team looks forward to welcoming you at Trafalgar Square for plenty of fun activities and entertainment.”
Neeraj Dhingra, CEO of ZEE Europe, said: “In keeping with our philosophy – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means The World is my Family, ZEE is delighted to be a part of the Mayor of London’s very colorful celebration of Diwali once again. It’s a much awaited time of the year and the Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square is a perfect start of the festivities. Zee welcomes all nationalities and cultures to Trafalgar Square to join in the celebrations and we will be providing world-class entertainment at this iconic location alongside several fun activities”.
Thekkumuri Haridas from the Indian High Commission said: “The Mayor of London’s Diwali celebration is always a wonderful day out for the whole family. Everyone taking part in this year’s celebrations at Trafalgar Square will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Kerala’s amazing heritage and culture which will be showcased through a range of performing arts and exhibitions.”