The chills of autumn have long overshadowed the summer days, which are now shorter as the nights grow longer. Why not brighten up a dark autumn’s night with a Festival of Lights?
The opportunity arrises Sunday, Oct. 16 with London’s annual celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Courtesy to the Mayor of London, It will be the 15th Diwali celebration hosted in Trafalgar Square and will take place from 1-7 p.m.
The actual celebration takes place on and around Oct. 30. Diwali’s name quite literally translates to “row of lamps,” its purpose being to praise good over evil and light over darkness. It is a tradition shared by the Hindu, Sikh, and the Jain, and it is a celebration that welcomes everyone from around the world.
Performances will be held during the festival such as K’z Dance Entertainment’s Raas and Garba dance, Ganesha Dance by Storm V Academy, and melody songs by Abi Sampa. A food bazaar will offer a diverse selection of Indian street foods, catered by nearly a dozen restaurants in London.
For those who wish to be interactive and learn more about the cultures, a variety of activities and workshops will take place to further enhance the Diwali experience; the Yoga and Meditation Marquee is excellent for those under stress and need to relax, especially with midterms just around the corner. One who has an interest in Indian wardrobe can attend the Saree Sarquee and learn how to drape a saree on oneself. It can even be worn during the Garba performance if you want to partake in the ceremony.
To further expand their knowledge in the art of dance, visitors have the opportunity to attend a variety of dance workshops including but not limited to Rajasthani, Bharatanatyam, and Bollywood. London is hosting its own version of the festival, though many others exist in the Hindu, Sikh, and the Jain cultures.
Diwali is a five-day commemoration in the Hindu culture, and Diwali is on the third day. Legend says that the people of Ayodhya lit the kingdom with lamps in honor of their king, Lord Rama, who had just returned and triumphed over Ravana, the demon king.
Sikh tradition tells of a tale where Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the Guru along with 52 princes. Guru Hargobind was granted release, but he requested for the princes to also be freed; the Emperor had one condition for Guru Hargobind – he was only allowed to take those who could hold onto his cloak tail. Little did the Emperor know, Guru Hargobind made a cloak with 52 strings attached, which allowed freedom for every prince imprisoned. His heroic action is the reason the Sikh celebrate him on the day of Diwali.
The celebration commemorates the anniversary of Lord Mahavira attaining the moksha as well as omniscience from Gautam Indrabhuti. The festival of light is symbolic for the Jains, because it is believed that it represents the knowledge imparted by Mahavira.
Whether it is celebrated with tradition or modernity, Diwali will be an enlightening and luminescent experience. To find out more, visit http://www.diwaliinlondon.com/ or better yet, come out to the square and celebrate this Sunday.