London ( UK ): London’s biggest Diwali event took place, organised by the Mayor of London’s office, supported by the Diwali in London Team (DIL), a collaboration of 14 Hindu organisations, including the Brahma Kumaris, to deliver Diwali celebrations in Trafalgar Square for the 18th year. Each year it attracts thousands of people from many backgrounds and online reaches out to a global audience.
The BK representation was led by BK Jaymini Patel with BK Urvashi Patel managing the main stage and BK Dipti Khatry and BK Toots Beckett supporting the BK coordination, along with a great team of BK volunteers from Global Co-operation House and local centres.
The festival began with an Opening Annukut Ceremony in the centre of the Square, off stage. This was a huge celebration of vibrant dances, involving over 150 dancers who gave a spectacular performance and transformed the Square for 20 minutes into a beautiful swirl of harmony and colour.
On the large video screen before the stage opening BK Sister Jayanti’s message wished everyone a Happy Diwali, along with other messages from the various Diwali In London committee’s organisational leaders. This year, youth from the DIL Committee, including BK Roshni Kumar, came on stage to offer flowers to Ganesh to start the stage Opening Ceremony, then the DIL Chair for 2019 Anita Nomula, Mallesh Kota and Srinivasa Sharma Yadati from the Telugu Association of London (TAL), gave beautiful speeches of welcome.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, arrived to greet and address the gathering, reminding everyone that ‘Many celebrate the wonderful festival of Diwali, and the story of Rama and Sita is as relevant in 2019 in London as it was thousands of years ago when it was first told . ..the moral is simple ….. light over darkness …. good over evil ….. friendship over enmity and knowledge over
ignorance … and now those lessons are needed more than ever before …. and that is why the central message of Diwali is so important as we celebrate in this great city ….. .our diversity is a strength and not a weakness and this is why we are a beacon for the rest of the world …. because in London we not only tolerate difference but we respect, embrace and celebrate it.
Senior Diwali In London members BK Jaymini, Brahma Kumaris; Nitin Palan, Baps SwamiNarayan; Nilesh Badiani, Sai School; Ravi Bhanot, Ilford Hindu Association along with the chairs Mallesh Kota and Anita Nomula received on stage The Indian High Commissioner, Ms. Ruchi Ghyansham, who embraced everyone present with a warm and inclusive Diwali message before garlanding Ganesh. ‘I want to thank the Mayor of London and the organising DIL Committee for arranging this keenly awaited spectacular event. May the Festival of Lights fill your life with lasting happiness, prosperity, enormous success, peace and wonderful health … The festival of Diwali underscores the composite character of the Indian character, with so many communities celebrating ….. and the underlying message of light over darkness is relevant for the entire humanity …. Our joy is multiplied when we celebrate together and each festival is an opportunity to celebrate family and relationships …. You are the living bridge between our two countries, India and the UK. I love the joy of all the people who have come today to celebrate Diwali with us … wonderful spirit … thank you very much …’.
The stage show was filled with live music and dance from a wide range of Indian cultural groups and dance academies from across London and the UK as well as from different states of India. This year there were many folk, classical and Bollywood styles and all were performed with great energy and enthusiasm; overflowing with colour, movement and positive sounds of celebration.
BK Sister Jayanti, Director of the Brahma Kumaris in Europe and the Middle East, was invited to hold a ‘Yoga Moment’ on the stage with four seated BK yogis joining her and she led the whole gathering of thousands into a reflection on making Diwali real … Let’s send peace to everyone in the Square, in the Gallery, to everyone across this city and … let’s be ambitious … to the entire planet …. Let’s firstly find that space of inner silence, stillness and peace … this natural state of being within us …. and in this awareness the light of the soul is ignited … filled with joy, peace, truth …. a true celebration of Diwali by igniting the true spirit … and we can go on a journey Up Above … and from here we can see this planet, this very precious home for all humanity …. one home, one family … and there is a feeling of togetherness, love and joy … from Up Above we send out thoughts of love, light and peace to those in distress and those seeking hope so all can experience their own true nature of peace … this peace is able to travel to all forms of life and we can live together in harmony and peace … and Nature starts to work in cooperation with the human family again and shares its abundance with all … so that light enters every heart and home and this precious world of ours ….. hold this light in your awareness and share this light with all … so that it shines and radiates out ……
The Brahma Kumaris hosted the meditation and yoga tent, alongside ‘Glimpse of Goddesses’ with Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Saraswati.
A Glimpse of the Goddess Marquee had been beautifully decorated by BK Jasu Ladva and team and offered 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!
BK Sudesh from Germany and BK Meera from Malaysia also graced the event. 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 organising and packing food for over 200 volunteers and 50 BK volunteers from Global Co-operation House.
The BKs also worked with the production team to manage the main stage show.
The Meditation and Yoga Marquee was looked after by BK Pavan Kumar and team, and showcased many varied yoga practices, including Nidra Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Chair Yoga Salutations as well as RajaYoga with BK Jaymini and later with BK Sudesh.