Mayor welcomes all to light up their senses at Diwali

30 September 2016
  • The Diwali Festival in Trafalgar Square brings together thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alongside people from other communities in celebration of the ‘festival of lights’, showing that London is open to people of all backgrounds

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will launch London’s Diwali celebrations on Sunday 16 October. The Diwali Festival returns to Trafalgar Square and will feature a colourful and vibrant mix of music, dance and live performance, as well as food stalls and shops.

Londoners from all communities and visitors to the capital are invited to attend the celebrations, which feature lively music and dance, delicious food and drink, plus activities for the whole family 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 with headline partner Lebara Mobile and supporting partners Jet Airways and Incredible India. The Diwali Festival is produced in association with the Diwali in London committee. 
 
An entertaining afternoon of family fun will kick off with a children’s performance on the central steps of Trafalgar Square before everyone gets to enjoy traditional garba dancing accompanied by a full-scale garba band. The action then moves to the main stage, where there will be a variety of live music and dance performances, including visiting dancers from Jammu and Kashmir, supported by the Nehru Centre. Later, BBC Asian Network takes to the stage with presenter Tommy Sandhu introducing the best of British Asian contemporary music talent.

Sadiq Khan will officially open the event by lighting a special Diwali lamp on the main stage. The Mayor will be joined by Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.

Throughout the day, an Indian street food market will sell a variety of tasty vegetarian food and non-alcoholic drinks. There will also be plenty of chances to stock up on Indian essentials – including jewellery, spices, rangoli and ayurvedic products.

Revellers will also have the chance to don a sari, learn a Bollywood dance, participate in yoga and meditation sessions for beginners, get a henna tattoo, pick up top health tips, find out more about Diwali and the faiths behind it, or simply enjoy this year’s illuminations.
 
Children can take part in a range of activities at the festival, including story-telling sessions, games, and arts and crafts all linked to Diwali traditions.

This year, the Mayor of London is inviting members of the public to share their Diwali stories on social media. Whether it’s the first time you’ve taken part in Diwali celebrations, or your family is having a special party of its own, you can use the hashtag #MyDiwali to share your experience with the world.
 
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is open to all people and all communities – we don’t just tolerate each other’s’ differences, we embrace them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in London’s joyous celebration of Diwali in Trafalgar Square. Here, London’s Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities come together to celebrate and to share the festivities with Londoners and visitors of all backgrounds. Diwali’s central message of peace and mutual respect is one that we can all learn from. To all those celebrating this month, I wish you a very happy and enjoyable Diwali.”

The Diwali in London Committee Chairperson 2016, Sanjay Gadhvi, said: “This year we celebrate 15th year of Diwali in Trafalgar Square, London. This wonderful festival is filled with lights, lamps, music, sweets and gifts, but the Diwali story is more than the story of a single day of festive celebrations. It is a story of dedication to the pursuance and protection of the truth, justice, cooperation and respect. Come and join us and share happiness in entertainment, feasting and interactive workshops. Happy Diwali.”

Mr Yoganathan Ratheesan, Lebara Group's Chairman and CEO, said: “As the universal brand for the world's migrant community, Lebara understands the importance of bringing friends and families together and celebrating important cultural events. We're very proud to continue our support of the Mayor's Diwali festival. The Lebara team looks forward to welcoming you at Trafalgar Square for plenty of fun activities and entertainment.”

Lydia Nazareth, General Manager UK & Ireland at Jet Airways, said: "As India's premier international airline it's most fitting for Jet Airways to be associated with the Mayor of London's Diwali Festival, one of the UK's biggest and brightest celebrations of Indian culture. We're thrilled to be co-sponsoring this year's event and are looking forward to sharing a taste of India with the thousands of Londoners heading to Trafalgar Square."

Mr. Raj Sunani, Assistant Director at India Tourism Office UK, said: “The Diwali festival is not only hugely important to India’s communities the world over, but it also welcomes the world to join in and celebrate. We are proud and excited to be involved in the UK’s largest celebration of Diwali here in London. The Trafalgar Square Diwali celebrations will encapsulate all the joy, colour and vibrancy of Diwali and Indian culture, and I do hope that all Londoners will take the opportunity to spice up their Sunday India-style and come along and join in this free event.”

Mark Strippel, Head of Programmes for BBC Asian Network, said: “BBC Asian Network is proud to support London’s Diwali celebrations. Presenter, Tommy Sandhu, will be taking part, introducing some fantastic British-Asians artists who will be performing at the event.”

LISTINGS INFORMATION
Event: Diwali Festival
Date: Sunday 16 October 2015
Times: 1pm – 7pm
Venue: Trafalgar Square, London
Entry: Free, all welcome
Information: www.london.gov.uk/diwali 

Twitter: @LDN_gov / #DiwaliLDN

For information about the Diwali in London committee, visit: www.diwaliinlondon.com

MEDIA ATTENDANCE: Media wishing to cover this event should email [email protected]

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available by emailing [email protected] or calling 020 7983 4755

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000

Programme (subject to change):

1300-1315

Event opens with a children’s performance on the central steps of Trafalgar Square

1315-1335

Garba performance with professionals on the central steps of Trafalgar Square, led by K’z Dance Entertainment

1335-1415

Garba Demonstration with professional dancers working with members of the public on the central steps of Trafalgar Square, with live band – Priyesh and Party

1415-1430

Official opening ceremony with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with guests, speeches and lighting

1430-1730

Community performances programmed by Diwali in London committee

Performances to include:

  • Ganesh Dance
  • Fusion Dance by AK Bollywood Dance Group
  • Dogri folk dance by Jammu Kashmir Festival
  • Diwali Dhamaka by Kuntal Dance School
  • Nepalese Folk Dance
  • Bollywood fusion dance
  • Melody Songs by Abi Sampa
  • Bollywood and Bhangra fushion dance by D-Style Dance Group
  • Hari Kirtan & The Babji Reggae Band
  • Japanese, Bollywood, Hip-hop Fusion by Epika Dance Troupe
  • Maharastrian Traditional – Dhol Tasha Lazim, by Maharastra Mandal London
  • Bollywood Dance by Angel Dancers Group
  • Kashmiri folk dance (Bumro Bhumro) by Natrang Music & Dance Repertory
  • Semi Classical Fusion Dance by Sri’s Dance Academy
  • Bollywood Fusion Medley Songs by Amar Chotai
  • Bollywood Jazz Medley by Shiamak Davar Group

1730-1830

Performances programmed by BBC Asian Network

1830-1900

Aarti/Kirtan and Goodbye messages from the Diwali in London committee

 

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The Diwali Festival is organised by the Mayor of London with the Diwali in London Committee as organising partner. The free event is supported by headline sponsor, Lebara and supporting partners Jet Airways / Incredible India. BBC Asian Network is the programming partner

2. The Diwali in London 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, Oshwal Association of the UK, Sai School of Harrow, Telugu Association of London and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (UK) Ilford Branch. For more information about the Diwali in London Committee, visit: 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. Photos from last year’s Diwali festival can be found at http://bit.ly/2ceJLwz

6. A video from last year’s Diwali festival can be found at http://bit.ly/2cNKgf4  

7. Sustainability: As part of the planning for Diwali, as with other events in the programme, there is a special focus on sustainability. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has attained ISO20121 – an international standard for event sustainability – and is working to improve the way it manages events, by ensuring sustainability principles are at the heart of the planning and delivery. Events should be economically viable, while at the same time becoming more socially responsible and reducing their environmental impact. On the day, City Hall’s events team will be monitoring areas such as efficient use of power, disposal of waste, recycling, catering operations, commitment to equality and inclusion, access for people with disabilities, and the care and protection of Trafalgar Square which is a heritage site of national importance