Diwali in London 2017

Ganesha idol on Trafalgar Square
What is the connection of Ganesha with Diwali? It was a month back when the birthday of the elephant god was celebrated. Why does he appear again on Diwali? I thought Diwali was related to Ram and Sita. These were many thoughts running inside my mind when I stepped into Trafalgar Square on 15th October long after the mayor of London had formally kicked off the Diwali celebrations. Diwali on Trafalgar Square is organized every year by Diwali in London committee. DOTS and DIL are their respective acronyms.

Diwali falls on 19th October. So DOTS was early. While many of the festivals are celebrated abroad later than the original date, London is celebrating ahead of the time. While my mind was processing this information, I saw an old lady praying before the idol of Ganesha. The icon is a temporary structure, but the lady has treated it with reverence. I wanted to smile but resisted the temptation. But late grandmother would join her hands in prayer whenever she saw a temple on TV. It was a good enough "darshan" for her. 

There are two things associated with Indian festivities namely food, and music. Food stalls lined the street in front of Canada house. There were two gates - one served as an entrance while the other was an exit. The guards at these gates were strict. I realized why when I entered the enclosure. It was chaos. People were moving in all directions to find a free food stall. Despite having no formal queues, people were buying snacks and food. Some of the non-Indians felt suffocated and gave up. Some of the Indians assured their non-Indian friends that there is nothing to worry about Indian indiscipline. It was more like "we are like this only" statement.  

Fountain on Trafalgar Square resembling a lamp in the sunlight
There was a huge stage set up facing the National Gallery. Different music bands played on the stage. The energy was so contagious that you could find everyone, regardless of country of origin, dancing. There were songs from popular Hindi movies, both old and new. After airing the songs from Raabta and Om Shanthi Om, it was time for "Khaike Paan Banaras Wala" from Don. When you hear the song in one of the iconic squares renowned worldwide, you suddenly pinch yourself to see where you are. It was a surreal experience.

Fireworks would have provided an excellent epilogue. There were no fireworks. I think I am asking for too much. Even without fireworks, it was a good show. On the brighter side, Guy Fawkes day is only a few weeks away. That wish will also get fulfilled. To end the show, they lit up the Nelson column to resemble a lamp.


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