A White Diwali!

We’ve all heard of it snowing on Christmas, but no one could ever have imagined that we’d have a White Diwali in London this year!

Despite the unusually cold and snowy evening, we’ve had a fantastic few weeks in the run up to the big day. We’ve seen celebrations all over the world. In London, Trafalgar Square was overflowing with people wanting to experience Diwali, temples were packed to the rafters, community halls hosted Diwali parties, and the shops did brisk business, which was a welcome relief in these times.

In India, Diwali is a huge deal. I don’t often state the obvious but unless you visit India during this period, you’ll simply not be able to realise the scale of the festival. India comes to a standstill for five days. Think of Christmas in the West and multiply it 100 times.

Apart from celebrating the return of the Hindu God – Rama to the city of Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile in which he defeats the ten headed demon Ravana to recapture his wife – Sita, we also celebrate and worship the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi.

On this day, members of the business community close their previous year’s books of accounts and open the New Year’s accounts by performing a ceremony to worship Goddess Lakshmi, to ask for her blessings for good profits in the forthcoming year.

Those interesed in learning about Indian culture are advised to pick up a copy of the Ramayana or Mahabharata, in which the tales of Hinduism’s two most worshiped incarnations of God are recorded. There are many good versions in English that can be bought on the net.

As is customary during festivals and celebrations, I’ve eaten far too much in the past few days and now need to schedule an extra couple of shifts at the gym!

Happy Diwali and New Year.

Olympics 2012

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t write a piece on the Olympics, which is taking place as we speak. Beijing must surely be the place to be at the moment! Just imagine, 10,000 athletes from 220 countries all in one city for 17 days. Can you imagine what this means for China?

Can you imagine the potential for confusion! One of the things that makes this Olympics distinct is that there haven’t been any people moaning or complaining about this, that, and the other. Or is it that we, simply, haven’t heard anything as a result of China’s preoccupation to screen any information about what happens there?

What’s been interesting is the effort put in by LOCOG officials and spokesman including Lord Coe and Mayor Boris in trying to manage the world’s expectations of the 2012 London Olympics. Yes, we all know that the amount of money being spent in China far surpasses anything anyone has or will ever spend on such an event. However, what I believe they must focus on is ensuring that in the run up to 2012, they become more accessible, representative, and open to recognising that the presence of the many diverse cultures in Britain, are our strongest hand in our deck of cards.

I’m certain that you’ll find a representative community from each of the 220 countries already in London. Let’s use the the next four years to learn from them on what it’ll take to ensure that those visiting us have the most amazing experience.

Let’s look at our strongest features – our media, our diversity, our history – let’s make them work for us.