Diwali on the Square, the annual extravaganza at Trafalgar Square in London, got the UK capital geared up for the festival of lights in style. The Diwali in London committee, in partnership with the Mayor of London, put together the grand event after a few years of pandemic hiatus over the weekend and once again attracted families and communities from across the UK.
Addressing the crowd, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, said: "Let there be light in your life, let there be happiness. Share the joy of light. Share the joy of festivities with everybody. Bring them to your festivities, whoever they are and wherever they're from. Because that's the spirit of London, that's the spirit of festivals. Indeed that is the spirit Diwali.”
The event opened with 200 colourfully dressed dancers in the main square, followed by an exciting mix of performances from the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities on the stage.
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On the main stage, a non-stop belting of dazzling numbers kept the audience captivated hundreds during the course of the day. Indian folk dances, Bhangra, Garba, Dandiya and Bollywood medley, were interspersed with religious songs, Arti, Kirtan, Bhajan and talks. The culmination of the gala event was brought on with a Bollywood Grand Finale by Shiamak UK Dance Team.
There were several other activities, including Neasden Temple's Diwali Festival Experience, dance workshops, yoga and meditation, Sari and Turban tying, the Diwali Culture Zone, the Unity Marquee, Soho Theatre Comedy and the ever-popular Children's marquee.
There was also the essential mix of a lively marketplace to tuck in those Indian delicacies, henna, face painting et al. And then, as the dusk fell, there was a brilliant "light-up moment" for the spectators to behold in awe.
The popular Children's marquee focussed on honing children's interest in Indian heritage and mythology with fun activities. There were Ramayana storytelling, dressing up games, decoration with lights, interactive quiz for all ages, and much more.
Some of the renowned Indian dancers of the UK, like Angelique Parvez, Apsara Raamkummar, Jigar Soni, Dr Honey Kalaria and others, have run dance workshops in traditional classical and folk to Bollywood for all.
The 'Glimpse of Goddesses' was a sacred corner to learn to experience the divinity power of meditation and be in touch with the Goddess within.
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Besides, there was London's most popular Soho Comedy Theatre with an incredible line-up of British Indian comics. Some of the most prominent names from the Indian and British Indian comic scene, like Sahil Shah, Priya Hall, Raj Poojara, Shalaka Kurup and Sid Singh, were seen making the audience go in splits.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said in his address: "One of the reasons why London is the greatest city in the world is the contributions made by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs to our cities. Whether you work in the NHS, whether you're an entrepreneur, or working in culture, or you're working for the community – thank you for the work you do making London the greatest city in the world."
Khan also said the celebration was a reminder of "hope for a brighter tomorrow."