Children's parade kicks off Diwali celebrations in Trafalgar Square
Dressed up as Lord Rama, his wife, Sita, his brother Lakshmana, and their army of devoted monkeys and villagers, children from the local community will take part in a parade - or a Ram Yatra - to launch the Mayor of London's Diwali Festival, which takes in Trafalgar Square on Sunday, 12 October.
Leaving from the Southbank, the colourful procession symbolises the triumph of righteousness and the return of hope and happiness (in the form of Lord Rama) to the kingdom of Ayodhya - in this case, Trafalgar Square.
Londoners from all communities, as well as visitors to the capital, are invited to attend the celebrations, which feature lively music and dance, delicious food and drink, plus activities for children to enjoy.
The free event is being organised to mark Diwali, the 'Festival of Lights', which is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India and many other countries around the world. It is being staged by the Mayor of London in association with the DIL (Diwali in London) Committee, with support from headline sponsor, Lebara, and media partner, Zee TV.
An entertaining afternoon of family fun will kick off with traditional garba dancing in the middle of the Square, offering everyone the chance to join in. On the main stage, there will be a variety of entertaining performances, ranging from professional performers to local community musicians and dancers. There will also be a fashion show of Indian inspired clothing coordinated by Asian Bride Magazine.
Children can take part in a range of activities, including story-telling sessions, games and arts and crafts activities that will teach them about the history of Diwali and India’s links to World War I.
Revellers will be able to have an Ayurvedic massage, try on a free sari, get a henna tattoo, pick up top health tips, learn more about Diwali and the faiths behind it, or simply enjoy this year’s illuminating light display.
Throughout the day, a range of stalls will sell a variety of tasty vegetarian food and non-alcoholic drinks, while shoppers can check out the Fashion Emporium and Diwali Street Bazaar.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'London owes a great deal of its success to the many and varied communities that add to the dynamism and spirit of life in the city, reflected in celebrations like our Diwali festival. It promotes powerful messages of peace and mutual respect that should resonate with Londoners, as well as holding huge significance for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. I wish everyone celebrating in London and beyond a happy and prosperous Diwali.'
The DIL Committee Chairpersons 2014, said: ‘Diwali is a joyful time - a time when friends and family meet and celebrate together. So, on behalf of the DIL Committee, we invite each and every one of you to join us on 12 October to add your own flavour of Hope and Happiness, and to once again light up Trafalgar Square. We hope you are as excited as we are to join in the festivities.’
Lebara Group's CEO, Yoganathan Ratheesan, said: 'Diwali is a time to celebrate light over darkness and the events in Trafalgar Square will provide an amazing spectacle. At Lebara we’re passionate about respecting cultural diversity and bringing communities together to have fun, irrespective of their background, belief or location. We’re delighted to be supporting the Mayor’s Diwali festival.'
CEO of ZEE Europe, Neeraj Dhingra, said: 'ZEE is pulling all stops to make Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square a key calendar event for South Asian homes in London. ZEE is a proud partner of this fabulous day, which gets bigger every year, and will be delivering a fantastic line up of entertainment and activities. We look forward to marking the joyous festival of Diwali with the visitors and spreading the spirit of positivity – join in on the celebrations at the ZEE stand.'
Event: Diwali Festival
Date: Sunday, 12 October 2014
Times: 2pm – 8pm (Note: the Children’s Parade leaves at 12:30pm, before arriving at Trafalgar Square at 1:30pm)
Venue: Trafalgar Square, London
Entry: FREE – ALL WELCOME
Programme (subject to change):
2pm - Event begins Traditional garba dancing, with live music, in the centre of Trafalgar Square, open to all
Opening ceremony with Diwali messages and speeches
Live music and performances
Professional and community performers on main stage
Closing ceremony with religious hymns and musical aarti provided by DIL Chair 2014, Chinmaya Mission UK
8pm - Event ends
Notes to editors
1. The Diwali Festival is organised by the Mayor of London with the DIL Committee as organising partner. The free event is supported by headline sponsor, Lebara, and media partner, Zee TV.
2. The DIL Committee includes representatives from Akademi, Art of Living Foundation, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (UK), Brahmin Society North London, Chinmaya Mission UK, City Hindus Network, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Metropolitan Police Hindu Association, National Hindu Student’s Forum UK, Oshwal Association of the UK, Sai School of Harrow, Telugu Association of London and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (UK). For more information about the DIL Committee, please go to www.diwaliinlondon.com.
3. Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated in India and many other countries around the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, which each year takes place between mid-October and mid-November.
4. The word Diwali or Deepavali means 'a row of lamps', which are lit to signify the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The festival marks a new beginning, a renewal of commitment to family values, and represents the universally revered values of love, reflection, forgiveness and knowledge.
5. Lebara is one of Europe's leading mobile telecoms operators, enhancing the lives of ethnic and migrant communities by providing high quality and low cost mobile products and services. Lebara provides Pay As You Go mobile SIM cards and related products and services customised to serve the international communities in seven European countries as well as Australia. The London call centre serves all of its European operations, with staff fluent in 27 languages. Lebara's commitment to customer service and talent development has been recognised in 2012 through eight awards. Most recently they were awarded ‘Best Large Contact Centre’ at the European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards and the company won in three categories at the UK Customer Experience Awards 2012 including Best UK Customer Experience in the IT & Telecoms sector as well as the overall Large Centre across all industries. Lebara is committed to giving back to the communities it serves through its Foundation which was established in 2008. At the 10th anniversary in 2011, the founders committed €10 million to develop a new village and school, near Chennai in South India. The company has also invested in projects in 10 other countries where Lebara customers have family and friends. More information can be found here: www.lebarafoundation.org and www.lebara.com.
6. ZEE Network - Launched in 1995, ZEE Network, UK was the first South Asian Entertainment Network of its kind. Since then it has grown in popularity and become synonymous with South Asian entertainment. Zee has continually entertained and engages audiences with a unique blend of high-quality, localised and innovative programming. It also offers the world’s largest Hindi film library, with an option of English and French subtitles. Worldwide ZEE has 34 channels and 32 International beams reaching 700 million viewers across 169 Countries through a global entertainment network. ZEE is amongst the largest producers and aggregators of Hindi and other South Asian regional language programming in the world. With its commitment to meet audience needs, it has brought five entertainment channels to the UK viewers reaching over 13 million homes, which include: Zee TV, Zee Cinema, Zee Punjabi, Zing and Lamhe.