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Having read Anthropology for my undergraduate and masters, studying other cultures has always been a major part of my life and something I am extremely interested in. Many people have a perception that in order to experience another culture you need to travel to far away places, however living in a City as diverse as London makes it easy to observe and even participate in other people’s beliefs, customs and rituals without travelling anywhere.
London is constantly celebrating its multiculturalism, with yearly events such as Africa on the Square, Diwali in London and Chinese New Year celebrations, to name just a few, allowing everyone to experience the religion, arts, music and food of various cultural and religious groups.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn (in the northern hemisphere). It celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists to mark different historical events which all symbolise this one key message.
The festival is celebrated by people decorating houses, windows, streets, temples and community buildings with lamps, candles and colourful lights over the 5 day period leading up to Diwali.
The main night of Diwali changes every year depending on the Hindu lunar calendar – it occurs on the darkest new moon night. However, the main night of Diwali is always celebrated by fireworks, feasts and the giving of gifts between close family and friends.
What is Diwali in London?
Diwali in London is an event hosted by the Mayor of London and Diwali in London Committee every year in Trafalgar Square to celebrate Diwali Festival. It is the largest Diwali celebration in London.
A stage is set up in the middle of Trafalgar square which hosts a line up of amazing live music and dancing from India and beyond. There are street food stalls offering plenty of exotic spices and flavours, as well as craft stalls selling beautiful jewellery and gifts. There are also always lots of interactive activities for everyone to get involved in such as Bollywood classes, yoga sessions, sari tying, lantern making and henna painting.
Should I attend the Diwali Festival in Trafalgar Square?
Diwali in London is free and open to everyone to enjoy, no matter your ethnicity or religion. I personally love getting to experience proper Diwali celebrations without leaving London and seeing all manner of people come together to celebrate the festival and embrace Indian culture each year in Trafalgar Square. You can learn so much about both the history of India as well as Diwali itself, whilst enjoying tasty local food, dance along to some great music with new friends and even get a henna tattoo.
When is Diwali in London 2018?
This year Diwali in London will be in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 28th October from 1pm to 7pm.