Thousands of people across Manchester and London are gearing up to celebrate the Indian festival of light – Diwali.
Diwali fairs are scheduled to take place on October 15 in Manchester and October 16 in London.
Organised by the Indian Association Manchester, the city will host its 11th annual Dusserha – Diwali Mela (Fair) at the Albert Square and Town Hall. This year the fair runs from 2pm to 8pm including dancers, Bollywood bands, food and handicrafts on display as well as lantern making and mehendi (heena) sessions.
Meanwhile, the Diwali Festival in Trafalgar Square brings together thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alongside people from other communities. The Diwali Festival will feature a colourful and vibrant mix of music, dance and live performance, as well as food stalls and shops
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will launch London’s Diwali celebrations by lighting a special Diwali lamp on the main stage joined by Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.
“London is open to all people and all communities – we don’t just tolerate each other’s’ differences, we embrace them,” said Mayor Khan. “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 London event is being staged with headline partner Lebara Mobile and supporting partners Jet Airways and Incredible India. It is being produced in association with the Diwali in London committee.
The afternoon will kick off with a children’s performance on the central steps of Trafalgar Square before 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.
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 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.”