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On Sunday 12 October, Trafalgar Square came alive with the sounds, sights and smells of the Mayor of London’s Diwali celebrations.
Over 40,000 Londoners were able to enjoy an exciting, vibrant and full impact stage programme showcasing the best contemporary Asian music and dance from professional artists and talented community groups. There was also a live catwalk show and traditional religious music to open and close the show.
Browse photos from Diwali 2014
The Children’s Zone had a story telling bus that related tales about Diwali and Hindu values and morals and offered a photo opportunity with Ram, Sita and family. Children got their face painted, enjoyed arts and crafts and shot at ten-headed Ravana, winning a prize if they hit a head (signifying various negative human qualities). Children also made a “Hope and Happiness” wishes on bubbles.
Emergency Exit Arts’ blue acrobatic monkeys leapt around the square, bringing amusement to the crowd with their cheeky antics and eying festival goers from high vantage points such as the lions!
The Dance Fitness Zone proved popular with its get fit dance-styled routines based on bhangra and Bollywood. It also hosted Sikh military drills, Indian folk dance and a kathak workshop.
Westminster City Archives Project
The Westminster City Archives Project with its actors dressed as Indian soldiers told WWI stories about the Garhwal Regiment and their involvement in the Christmas truce of 1914. This was when candles in the Christmas trees that lined the parapets of the German trenches were mistaken for the lights of Diwali….
Health and wellbeing
In the Health and Wellbeing Zone people got a free ayurvedic massage and bought specialised products from Cool Herbals. They checked their blood pressure with the Stroke Association; learnt about healthy eating from Diabetes UK; chose from Forever Living aloe vera products and found out more about specialised care for the elderly with the TCL Group.
The Diwali Zone presented ‘Annakut’ – a celebratory Diwali display of vegetarian food that offers thanks for a bountiful harvest. The area also offered more information about the background to Diwali and the faiths that celebrate it.
Diwali in London
The Diwali in London (DIL) Zone hosted DIL organisations which provided information about who they are and what they do, and sold spiritual and cultural books and CDs.
Festival visitors who quite literally wanted to wear the style of India went crazy for free saree-draping at the Saree Zone, and later wondered about the West End carrying the Diwali spirit with them!
Diwali Street Market
There was also the chance to buy Asia-oriented products in the Diwali Street Market where Exhibitors & Traders included:
Lebara; Patak's; Daawak; Vatika; MoneyGram; British Transport Police; Anmul Sweets; Attar Mist; Designer Jewels Ltd; Holy Lama Naturals; Mythical Jewellery; Novelty Light Up Toys; RS Xclusive Jewellery; Rubina Kapoor; Vibgyor Art; Sundar Designs; Zee TV; Sky; Philips-preethi mixer grinders; Asian Bride Fashion Emporium.
On the main square a vast array of tasty vegetarian food and drink sold like hot cakes!
Diwali Caterers included: Baba G's Bhangra Burger; Churros Garcia; Coffee World; Dosa Deli; Falafel City; Gupta's Bombay Street Food; Horn OK Please; Maasii Ma; Masala Zone; MummyG; Pappadums Express; Rajbhog Foods; Shocka's Coconut Hub ; Twist A Chip Ltd; Kohinoor.
A word of thanks
Thanks to all the hard work of the Mayor of London’s Organising Partner – the Diwali in London Committee (DIL), which exemplified what can be achieved when the community combines forces in the spirit of Hope and Happiness – the theme of Diwali 2014.
Thanks also to Joshitex Ltd, Wembley, for their donation of sarees for the event.
About Diwali, the festival of lights
The word Diwali means ‘rows of lighted lamps’ which are lit to mark the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. It is celebrated between mid-October and mid-November every year, by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains across the world.
A Diwali message from the Mayor
The word ‘Diwali’ means 'rows of lighted lamps', and that’s why this well-known Hindu festival is known as the ‘festival of Lights’. It’s a time when houses, shops and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called ‘diyas’.
Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that accompany it differ across India.
In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali marks Rama's return from 14 years of exile to Ayodhya, after the defeat of Ravana and his subsequent coronation as king. In Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. While in Nepal, Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasur. In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.
For many Indians this five-day festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. For them, it symbolises the start of the new business year. Some Hindus will say prayers to the goddess for a successful year, lighting lamps to help guide her into their homes. In India, Hindus leave their windows and doors open during this time and draw Rangoli patterns on the floor - the most popular subject being the lotus flower.
In Britain, as in India, the festival season is a time for spring-cleaning the home, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts (often sweets and dried fruits), preparing festive meals, decorating buildings with fancy lights and organising huge firework displays.
The Diwali culture zone, hosted by the Diwali in London Committee, includes traditional food displays - Annakut, plus interactive quizzes and information on the cultures, faiths and traditions of communities that celebrate Diwali.
Find out more about the Diwali in London Committee.
*Please be advised this schedule may be subject to last minute alterations
13:30 Children’s Parade dance performance
13:50 Garba Dancing with public participation (main square and in the Dance Fitness Zone for children and those with access needs)
14:35 Video messages
14:50 Official Opening Ceremony
15:05 Welcome and short Ganesh prayer
Community acts 1:
- Encee Arts
- Arunima Kumar Dance Company
- AlphaN Omega
- D-Style Dance
- World Tamil Organisation in association with Dance Lab
- Sujata Banerjee Dance Company
- Absolute Bollywood
- Star Dancers UK
- Kuntal’s Bollywood School of Dance
- Sri Academy of Dance
- Shiamak’s bollywood jazz dance academy
17:10 Zee TV performers:
- Shiamak Dance Troup
- Juggy Dee
- Jasraj Joshi
18:30 Community acts 2:
- Angel Dancers
19:00 Asian Bride Fashion Show
19:35 Aarti and Kirtan
20:00 Show ends
Please be aware of road closures that will be in place on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 October due to the Sunday - Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in Westminster and the City. This will result in some road closures, bus diversions and Tube and Rail stations in the area may be busier than usual.
Road closures will include Hyde Park Corner, Parliament Square, Victoria Embankment and Westminster Bridge and drivers are advised to avoid these areas wherever possible or allow more time to travel. To find out more and plan your travel visit tfl.gov.uk/campaign/royal-parks-half-marathon
National Rail Train
The nearest mainline railway station to Trafalgar Square is Charing Cross which is only 325m or approximately 3 minute walk from Trafalgar Square. Charing Cross Railway Station has step-free access and a step-free route to Trafalgar Square.
The nearest Underground Station with step-free access from platform to street level is Westminster Underground Station served by the Jubilee, District and Circle lines. Outside Westminster station buses 12, 24, 88 or 453 have low-floor buses and going north along Whitehall will stop at a bus stop within 150m of Trafalgar Square.
Charing Cross Underground Station is served by the Northern and Bakerloo lines, and is the closest Underground Station to Trafalgar Square. However Charing Cross Underground Station does not offer step-free access.
Routes 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 53, 77A, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453.
All these routes lead to Trafalgar Square, but please note that 9 and 15 are heritage buses and do not have a low-floor.
Find out about registering and pre-booking Dial-a-ride services.
The nearest Blue Badge parking spaces to Trafalgar Square are as follows:
*please check before travelling that no suspensions are in place due to refurbishment of surrounding buildings or wider city activities.
- St Martin’s Street – 5 allocated spaces
- Outside Canada House – 1 space (temporarily suspended)
- Suffolk Street – 1 space
- Spring Gardens – 1 space
To find other nearby disabled blue badge parking bays, use the postcode WC2N 5DN and search the City of Westminster website for a blue badge parking bay. To view the location of the bays, click the "View results on a map" button on the search results page.
Accessible facilities at Trafalgar Square
Lift - Wheelchair accessible lift on the North West corner of Trafalgar Square. Please note this lift can only be activated by site staff.
Toilets - Wheelchair accessible public toilets on the ground level of Trafalgar Square situated on the west side of the square at the base of the central staircase. These are open daily from 8am to 8pm.
Café - Cafe on the ground level of Trafalgar Square. The café can be accessed via the lower part of Trafalgar Square and is situated under the North Terrace on the east side. The cafe is wheelchair accessible, and has a low-level counter and induction loop.
There is a disabled Viewing platform at the top of the main stairs