Diwali on the Square
In its 17th year, the Diwali festival on Trafalgar Square attracted thousands of people for an afternoon of spectacular celebration. Mixed with the entertainment was a message of Remembrance marking the WW1 Centenary and in particular the legacy of Indian soldiers who gave their lives for freedom.
The festival of lights was taken with a colourful parade of music and dance performances, food and drink, market stalls selling Indian crafts, and activities for the whole family, as well as a spectacular light installation. The dynamic stage shows included dance performances from Natraj Dance Academy and CutiePie Dance Group, a mass choreographed Ghoomar dance and a Garba dance with crowd participation.
There were stand up performances in partnership with The Soho Theatre, children’s activities, a puppet show, as well as have-a-go yoga sessions, sari dressing, dance workshops, talks, and cultural crafts.
The event is supported by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who stated: “I want to send my warmest wishes to everyone celebrating Diwali in London and around the world”.
“During this wonderful festival of lights, we come together to reflect on the past year together, and mark the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and friendship over enmity.
“Diwali’s central message of peace and mutual respect is one that I know all Londoners support – we are a city that celebrates our differences, and London is open to all. From my family to yours, Happy Diwali and a prosperous new year.”
The festival is produced in association with the Diwali in London Committee, with Lebara Mobile as the title sponsor.
Mr Nitin Palan MBE from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, London, Diwali in London Committee Chair 2018, said: “This is our 17th year of celebrations in the heart of London – and we hope in the hearts of Londoners. The lights of Diwali remind us all to be a beacon of light ourselves, spreading that inner quality of love peace and harmony.”
Anita Nomula, Telugu Association of London and member of Diwali in London Committee, said: “It’s wonderful to celebrate Festival of Lights along with my fellow Londoners. We pray that the divine lights of Diwali bring to you all peace, prosperity and good health. Have a joyful Diwali”.
As 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, the festival also hosted a WW1 exhibition bus, and the Royal British Legion will have a stall honouring the service of South Asian soldiers.
Charles Byrne, Director General of The Royal British Legion said: “In this Centenary year, we mark the contribution and sacrifice of the 1.3 million volunteers from pre-partition India and the material contribution of the people of India on the home front to the decisive outcome of the First World War.
“We join with all British people and the Asian community in the UK in saying ‘thank you’ - and mark this important anniversary with a special edition of the Legion red poppy made of khadi to symbolise Remembrance of this service and sacrifice.”
Graeme Oxby, CEO of Lebara Mobile, said: “LEBARA is proud to once again to be a sponsor of the Diwali event in London. We believe it’s important Global Citizens celebrate cultural events, while connecting with the local community, which this event does year after year. We wish everyone a Happy Diwali and look forward to helping the ongoing success of this event.”
Photo Courtesy of Mark Allan/ Royal British Legion/PA