I was planning to head back to my hostel after visiting the Natural History Museum, but I remembered that I saw a poster for a Diwali Festival in Trafalgar Square and decided to head down there instead. The actual date for Diwali this year was November 11, but for some reason, London’s celebration was in October. The event is put on in the city yearly in a partnership between the Mayor of London and the Diwali in London Committee.
Diwali is often referred to as a festival of lights and celebrates good’s triumph over evil. Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains have some differences in how the festival is celebrated and you can read more about that by clicking here. It really wasn’t that surprising to see London hosting a Diwali event because of the large population of Indians living in the city. India had been a British colony for over three centuries and only gained independence from the United Kingdom in the mid-20th century.
The first thing I did was get in line at one of the tents to buy some food. I got a chole bhature, kashmi masala chole (chickpeas) with a “fluffy deep-fired leavened bread” called bathura. It was delicious and I’m glad that I got in line when I did since all the food was starting to run out.
I found a seat on the steps by the National Gallery and watched some of the performances featuring both traditional and modern songs and dances. Volunteers wandered around handing out battery-powered tea lights to everyone because this is the festival of lights after all. It was cool too see a wave of people holding the candles in the air when it got dark.
The event essentially ended with a fireworks display, though it wasn’t actual fireworks and was just played on a screen. People sang along while the music was playing and you could see some folks in the crowd doing a dance. It was really cool and I was glad to be surrounded by so much happiness.
Celebrating the power of good over evil is something that should happen more often and I’m glad that people of all nationalities, ethnicities, races, and whatever were able to come together and be a part of this event.