Diwali is the festival of lights, it signifies the burai par acchai ki jeet. It is a time for celebration for the Hindus, Jains and the Sikhs. When you are far away from your homeland this celebration might feel incomplete. But every year Diwali is celebrated on Trafalgar square where people from different communities come together and celebrate this festival.

Diwali, the festival of lights creates a magical world of joy and festivity. It celebrates the triumphant victory of good over evil – and the glory of light over darkness, a beam of hope over despair.

Hindus observe Diwali over a period of five days. Day 1 is Lakshmi pujan, Day 2 is Narak Chaturdasi. The third day is actually Diwali. The fourth day is the Govardhana Puja and the fifth day of Diwali is called Bhaiya Duj.

For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619.

The Jains celebrate Diwali as a festival of light. It marks the anniversary of the attainment of moksha by Mahavira in 527 BCE and achievement of omniscience by his chief disciple Gautam Indrabhuti.

On today’s show, I had the pleasure of talking to some of the people who are responsible for organising Diwali on the Square. In the first half of the show I was joined by Satya Minhas and Dipti Vyas

Satya, part of the Metropolitan Police Hindu association, said that the first Diwali mega event was organised in Leicester in the year 1983, followed by the next event in Brent in 1984 and then in 1996. In the year 2002 Nitin Palan organised a meeting at home to get together and celebrate Diwali and that is when they went to Trafalgar square to light the diyas for the first time. That is how Diwali on the Square started and now this year they are expecting around 25,000 people from all communities to attend the Diwali on the Square.

Dipti who is involved with the Chinmaya mission said that she believes that everything a human being does is to gain happiness! That is the aim of the Chinmaya Mission and that is the reason she is involved in it.

The aim of Diwali on the Square was to bring diverse organisations together so Diwali could be celebrated in a big way. Every year the Diwali on the Square celebration has a different theme which is jointly decided by the organising committee. This year’s event is chaired by the Metropolitan Police Hindu association and thus the theme for this years’ event was Valour, Unity, Courage, Peace and Harmony.

Talking about the safety and health provisions on the day of the event they said that the Mayor of London has organised for an ambulance to be present to deal with any health concerns and also there are First Aid facilities available at every marquee. They also said that the Mayor of London has organised adequate security provisions for that day. Many senior police officers are expected to be part of the event and also around 10 – 15 police officers will be present for support.

One of the best bits of Diwali on the Square are the performances, and local talent is given a chance to perform on the stage along with celebrity performances. If someone is interested in performing on the stage of Diwali on the Square then they need to look out for the notice put up on their website and other social websites and take part in the auditions that are organised every year to be selected.

Diwali may be a festival celebrated by the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains but people from different faiths attend this grand event every year on Trafalgar Square. ‘’This festival of lights is for the whole world,’’ said Satya.

Last year a new concept of the Parade was introduced which was so popular that it will be held at this year’s event too where Lord Ram returned from exile after 14 years. The whole program kicks off at 10.45 when all the children gather at Southbank and then the parade leaves for Ayodhya that’s Trafalgar square. This parade has children dressed up at Lord Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman followed by others dressed up as monkeys and villagers dancing all the way bringing lord ram Home to Ayodhya that’s Trafalgar square. Dipti said that last year people got very emotional seeing this parade and the small performance that follows after the parade reaches Trafalgar square.

Another important aspect of any event is the food. Many people come to enjoy the wide variety of vegetarian food including dosas, Punjabi food, pizza, falafel etc.

In the second half of the show I spoke to Chiman Shah and Dipti Khatray who also are very actively involved in organising Diwali on the Square.

Shah, who is involved with the Oshwal Association, said that there is a saree stall where all the sarees are collected by the various organisations in DIL, and they are free and ladies can wear the sarees and click pictures in them. There are experienced people present to help the ladies drape the sarees. Dipti said that even if someone is coming in jeans there is provision to help them drape the saree too.

Dipti who is involved with the Brahmakumaris said that this year for the first time there will be a meditation and yoga marquee. Every organisation will have a slot assigned to them where they will show their style of yoga and meditation. For those who have never tried any form of yoga or meditation they can come to find a little oasis of calm at the marquee where there will be small taster sessions for everyone. There will also be a little question and answer session after the taster.

There will be a dance marquee where there will be a lot of Bollywood and classical dancing. There will also be trained professional who will teach Garba so that everyone can participate.

There will also be a children’s stall with great activities like storytelling and face painting to keep the children entertained. There was a Raavan shooting activity in the marquee last year which was very popular with children. There is also the distribution of the Prasad which is an important part of the entire event.

Diwali marks a new beginning, a renewal of commitment to family values, and represents all the good virtues we seek such as love, reflection, forgiveness and knowledge said Dipti. Celebrating this festival on the square bring many communities together.

I had a great time talking about Diwali and all the different activities that will take place on the Square.