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Having studied Anthropology for my undergraduate and masters, studying other cultures has always been a major part of my life. I love learning about other people’s ways of life.
And luckily for me, living in a city as diverse as London makes it extremely easy to observe and even participate in other people’s beliefs, customs, and rituals without needing to travel 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. These fantastic free annual celebrations allow everyone to experience the religion, arts, music, and food of various cultural and religious groups.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is a 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 with fireworks, feasts, and the giving of gifts between close family and friends.
What is Diwali in London?
Diwali in London, aka “Dawali on the Square,” is an event hosted by the Mayor of London and the Diwali in London Committee every year in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the Diwali Festival. It is the largest Diwali celebration in all of London.
A stage is set up in the middle of Trafalgar Square, which hosts a lineup of amazing live music and dancing from India and beyond.
There are loads of street food stalls offering plenty of exotic spices and flavours, as well as craft stalls selling beautiful homemade jewellery and gifts.
The festival also includes plenty of interactive activities for everyone to get involved in, such as Bollywood classes, yoga and meditation, sari and turban tieing, lantern making, henna painting, and more.
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 love getting to experience authentic Diwali celebrations without even needing to leave London. You get to see all manner of people come together to celebrate the festival and embrace Indian culture each year in Trafalgar Square.
You get to learn so much about both the history of India as well as Diwali itself, whilst enjoying tasty local food, dancing along to some great music with new friends, and even getting a henna tattoo.
When is Diwali in London ?
This year, Diwali in London will take place in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 29th October.
The event starts at 1pm and continues until around 7pm.
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