More than 25,000 people gathered at Trafalgar Square, London, for a vibrant and colourful Diwali celebration hosted by the Diwali in London committee in partnership with the Mayor of London. This year, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’ – served as chair of the Diwali in London committee, which comprises various religious and cultural organisations, including the Art of Living, Brahma Kumaris, Chinmay Mission, City Hindus Network, ISKCON, Metropolitan Police Hindu Association, Telugu Hindu Association, and several others.
Diwali on Trafalgar Square is a free annual festival in the heart of London and one of the city’s largest Diwali celebrations. Volunteers from the Mandir worked with Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities for this in-person event after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The festival opened with a spectacular performance by 200 colourfully dressed dancers in the main square followed by an exciting mix of cultural performances on the festival stage.
Visitors enjoyed an array of activities at the interactive stalls, including Neasden Temple’s ‘Diwali Festival Experience’ and its own live performances sharing the rich culture and spirituality of Hinduism.
Attendees also participated in dance workshops, yoga and meditation, a Children’s Fun Zone, as well as henna and face painting. Families enjoyed a fusion of delicious vegetarian and vegan South Asian cuisine, while a special light illuminated the Square at dusk to mark Diwali.
This year’s celebration also paid tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj on the occasion of his centennial birth anniversary for his longstanding and far-reaching services to the worldwide Hindu community and humanity as a whole.
Many visitors from all backgrounds and cultures engaged in offering a personal pledge to embody Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life motto, ‘In the joy of others lies our own’. One inspired visitor reflected, “Be kind to the people around you. Bring joy and happiness to everyone. May peace prevail across the world.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Diwali was a reminder of “hope for a brighter tomorrow” during challenging times. “Diwali on the Square is a wonderful and timely opportunity for Londoners to join in that spirit, celebrating our diversity and demonstrating the strength we draw from our many and varied communities.”
Krushali Kataria, a volunteer from the Mandir and a member of the committee, added, “It was really heart-warming to celebrate the universal messages of kindness, goodwill and harmony – values that are synonymous with Diwali – with tens of thousands in-person after a two-year break. It was also an honour to lead the Committee and crowd into the arti ceremony and witness thousands leave this memorable occasion with Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s teaching of ‘In the joy of others lies our own’ embedded in their minds and hearts.”