London: ‘Londoners’ celebrated Diwali — the Hindu, Sikh and Jain Festival of Lights — in Trafalgar Square. The event included the public and performers dancing in the Square, amongst other festivities. Even an unexpected heavy hailstorm didn’t dampen the spirit! In the words of a visitor: “Trafalgar Square looks amazingly lit up for Diwali 2018, celebrating in the heart of London. With an exciting line-up of music and dance, plus workshops, foods and crafts for the whole family, it was a fantastic day out for everyone.”
For the first time, celebrations began on the Square with a traditional Rajasthani Ghoomar dance, involving over 150 dancers. It was a spectacular performance and the Square was transformed for 20 minutes into a beautiful swirl of harmony and colour, followed by an energetic Garba dance involving the developing crowd for the afternoon’s Diwali celebrations.
In collaboration with 12 other Hindu organisations, known as the Diwali in London Committee, the Brahma Kumaris have been working with the Mayor of London’s Office to deliver Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square for 17 years. Each year it attracts thousands of people from many backgrounds and this year was broadcast live by Aastha TV to a global audience. The BK representation was led by BK Jaymini Patel.
This year there was an atmosphere of real tranquility and the event ran seamlessly … even in the cold. On the large video screen before the opening ceremony Dadi Janki’s video message wished everyone a Happy Diwali, and reminded everyone to remember ‘I am a soul, and God is mine… and it doesn’t matter what other language we speak. She also reminded everyone ‘to remain ever happy is to be fortunate’.
Two conch shell players sounded everyone to the official opening of the main stage programme. They also heralded a hailstorm, which was taken as a very auspicious start with Nil Kumar MC’ing, and Nitin Palan opening the proceedings with a Gyatri Mantra, as Chair of the Diwali in London Committee for 2018. He is also a founding member and driver of Diwali in Trafalgar Square since its inception in London in 2001.
BK Jaymini, representing the Brahma Kumaris UK and also a founding member, invited Dr. Mayank, Trustee of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden to give greetings. She then invited fellow Diwali in London committee members Harsha Trivedi, representing BSNL; Jatinder Birdi, Vice Chair of Interfaith Network UK; Ranu Mehta, representing Sai School; and Varshaben Shah from Oshwal Association UK, to give greetings.
For 2018 there was an extra focus on recognising the immense effort and sacrifice of Indian soldiers to World War I. This ‘remembrance moment’ happened midway through the afternoon, and was led by Nitin Palan who invited the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; Lord Gadhia; Robert Lee, Assistant Director of Remembrance, Royal British Legion; and Catherine Davies, Head of Remembrance, Royal British Legion. After each had spoken, The Mayor led a minute’s silence for all those who had died in the First World War followed by songs by a children’s group. The Trench Brothers sang ‘It’s a long way to Rawalpindi’ and an adult soloist sang about Manta Singh. Sheena Bhattessa, British Indian actress, then invited the Mayor of London to speak to the crowd gathered. He once again emphasized the greatness of Diwali and its universal message of light and unity and encouraged everyone to keep standing for these values in London, which stands as a beacon of inclusion and diversity across the world, and that would continue to be so.
The stage show was as always filled with live music and dance from a wide range of Indian cultural groups and dance academies performing classical to Bollywood with great energy and enthusiasm. There was fusion of many different styles, overflowing with colour, movement and positive sounds of celebration.
The BK contribution was, as each year, highly valued and significant, with over 50 BK volunteers energetically donating their time and energy in various different areas of the festival including:
- Management of the main stage show and backstage;
- Organising and packing food for over 200 volunteers and 50 BK volunteers;
- Coordinating and decorating the Yoga and Meditation Marquee, which this year celebrated many different yoga practices as well as a slot for Raja Yoga
- A BK slot at the Dance Marquee
- Two talks by BK Jaymini and BK Bhavna (of New Zealand) at the Diwali in London unity zone
And there was the special Brahma Kumaris initiative Glimpses of the Goddess Marquee, offering 4 different creative activities for people to benefit from:
- Invoking the shakti within by spinning the shakti wheel
- Taking drishti from the goddesses in situ
- Experiencing the ‘goddess within’ by applying a tilak and crown
- Treasuring your divinity by taking a selfie with the above!
This year, after dark, BK Jaymini again led 2 minutes of ‘Yoga Moments’ at the centre of the stage with four younger BKs sitting in meditation on stage. A large image of the Supreme Soul was displayed on the screen.
The event finished as night had closed in, with a wonderful Aarti and Kirtan led by BAPS Swaminarayan, and including the Diwali in London Team. The Square, still full of people, was lit up with everyone’s mobile phones, so from the stage there was a sea of lights and Nelson’s Column lit up to make it a dramatic closing to a wonderful day full of happiness.
- शक्ति के चक्र को घुमा कर भीतर की शक्ति को जागृत करना
- देवी से दृष्टि प्राप्त करना
- तिलक और मुकुट धारण कर ‘अपने भीतर के देवी’ का अनुभव करना