India is a diverse land of different religions, languages and customs. Adding to this is the assortment of festivals that people acknowledge in the country. People celebrate the festivals to uphold their traditions and respect the moral values that our ancestors have passed down to us. We celebrate these traditions and customs and bring happiness and light into our lives. The tradition of Diwali has gone overseas to other countries. One of the most needed moral values that the world is in dire need of today is peace, joy and mutual happiness. People all over the world come down to India to take a leaf out of our ancient manuscripts and learn about our religions, practices and customs that are followed. The festivities of Diwali have kindled interest in the minds and hearts of foreigners and they are now turning to India seeking peace and harmony.
London has started celebrating the festival of lights from last year. The nation saw people thronging Trafalgar Square to acknowledge the festivities. The Mayor of London took great efforts in coming up with an idea to honour Diwali in London, providing an opportunity for all Indians in London to get a taste of their homeland on this auspicious day. He strongly believed in the practices of Diwali and understood that the festival brought together people from all walks of life and organised the celebrations with a talented team. The aim of the festivities in London was to instil a thought of togetherness and comfort in the hearts of the people. By this, a cultural understanding was established between the two countries and has strengthened the bond that was existing already.
The Mayor made arrangements to light up the weekend of Diwali with lights, colour, ear piercing music and enthralling performances. In Trafalgar Square, a stage was put up and celebrations were in full swing. People got the chance to witness the most amazing traditional dance practices of India – Dandiya and Garbha. Performers were flown in from India to exhibit their talents and also to keep the people of London captivated. Diwali’s custom dance is the Dandiya performance where it is danced with a partner with two sticks as the property. The music to this dance will leave any spectator in awe wanting to watch more and also to shake a leg with the performers. Also, garbha performances were put up in the streets where you could see a number of performers dressed in vibrant hues with many lights and decorations.
Street food markets were put up with an assortment of Indian dishes and you can also come across many stalls selling Indian jewellery, Diwali antiques, miniature idols of Gods. There were also Henna workshops and art and craft sessions. The stage was set on fire with lively music and stunning steps by the professional dancers from Jammu and Kashmir. The Square saw a crowd on that day as it had never seen before with people pulling themselves away from their television sets on a Sunday to the streets.
The team organising this event strived hard to present Diwali On Trafalgar Square to the world and have succeeded in their mission. They clearly sent out the message that London was open to all communities and would certainly extend a warm welcome to all visitors.