The Mayor of London’s annual Diwali on the Square celebrations over the weekend brought together thousands at Trafalgar Square on a predominantly grey day, which was soon splashed with sunshine and festive fervour of a diverse programme curated by the British Indian diaspora.
The capital’s celebration of the Festival of Lights saw Londoners and people from around the world join together in the heart of the capital to enjoy an array of dance, music, activities and, of course, Indian street food. Organised by the volunteer-led Diwali in London Committee, the event opened with 200 colourfully dressed dancers followed by an exciting mix of performances from artists drawn from London’s Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities.
There were a host of market stalls and activities to enjoy, including dance workshops, yoga and meditation, ‘Ramayana’ puppet shows, Soho Theatre comedy, and the Glimpse of Goddesses stall where visitors could find out more about Hindu goddesses, sari and turban tying.
This year there was also the Diwali Queen and a series of dance performances presented by Kalasetu, a collaborative project between Subrang Arts and Kinetika commissioned on behalf of This is Croydon, the Mayor's London Borough of Culture 2023.
An array of South Asian food stalls served up traditional and fusion, vegan and vegetarian cuisine.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Diwali on the Square is a cornerstone in London’s calendar of cultural events, providing a wonderful celebration of colour and light in the heart of our great capital.”
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Sanjay Gadhvi, ISKCON Chair of Diwali in London Committee 2023, said: “On our 22nd year of Diwali on Trafalgar Square, always supported by the Mayor of London, we pray for peace and harmony. Wishing all a Happy Diwali.”
Professor Ray Lloyd, CEO of Global Banking School (GBS) and Diwali on the Square’s Presenting Partner, added: “Global Banking School is delighted to support this event which aligns with our values of celebrating the strength of diversity within our communities.
“GBS offer a range of sector-relevant courses across five locations – east London, west London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Working in partnership with several of the UK’s leading higher education providers, we deliver vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in finance, accounting, business, construction, tourism, healthcare – and more.”
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London Soho Theatre brought its popular Comedy Tent to the event for the fifth time, featuring a stellar line-up of British Indian comic talent and free workshop and shows. This year’s headline act was stand-up, TV presenter and podcast host Nish Kumar and the host was one of India’s exciting comedy talents – Nirmal Pillai.