In a spectacular confluence of cultures, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, will be brilliantly illuminated this year in Birmingham, thanks to the collaboration between the esteemed Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, and the iconic Indian actress, Preity G Zinta. Their union promises an extraordinary weekend of festivities on November 4th and 5th, 2023, in partnership with the Consulate General of India.
Mayor Andy Street expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Diwali holds profound significance for the Indian diaspora, and our region eagerly anticipates embracing the splendor of this Festival of Lights. Since my tenure as Mayor commenced, the WMCA has diligently worked alongside local communities and the Consulate General of India to commemorate this occasion with grandeur, featuring dance performances, distinguished guests, and captivating entertainment. This year, the celebrations will span across the weekend, including a glamorous gala dinner at Millennium Point with the multifaceted Bollywood luminary turned self-made entrepreneur, Preity Zinta, and a cultural extravaganza at Birmingham Town Hall. I eagerly await the participation of local residents in these festivities, and I, too, shall revel in the jubilation.”
Preity G Zinta, an adored figure in Indian cinema, boasts a life story that has captivated global audiences. With two prestigious Film Fare awards to her name, she is fondly remembered for her role in the legendary film ‘Veer Zara,’ among other blockbusters. Presently based in Los Angeles, Preity has achieved remarkable success in the business realm, emerging as one of India’s wealthiest self-made women due to her investments, production company, and co-ownership of the PUNJAB KINGS cricket team in the IPL. Formerly a UN AIDS ambassador and a member of the Global Entrepreneurs Council for UN, she continues her philanthropic endeavors diligently.
The city’s prominent civic and educational institutions are set to honor Preity, who is also expected to receive an exuberant welcome from the numerous Indian students studying in Birmingham colleges and universities, as well as the city’s extensive diaspora. Preity’s last appearance in the UK transpired over a decade ago when she shared her wisdom with Oxford University students at the Oxford Union Society.
On the 4th of November, Preity will tour the burgeoning creative district of Digbeth, showcasing its potential to attract filmmakers worldwide, including the thriving Bollywood industry. The day will culminate in a networking reception and an opulent gala dinner at Millennium Point, where distinguished guests, including business leaders and political dignitaries from the UK, India, and the global Indian diaspora, will gather for an evening of speeches and entertainment, adhering to a black-tie or traditional dress code.
On the 5th of November, the celebration continues with a Cultural Programme at Birmingham Town Hall, open to the public free of charge. Preity G Zinta will grace the stage to illuminate the divas, adding her radiance to the event.
Diwali, a five-day Festival of Lights, holds immense significance for Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains worldwide, symbolizing new beginnings and the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. The word ‘Diwali’ originates from the Sanskrit term ‘Deepavali,’ signifying “rows of lighted lamps.” Homes, shops, and public places are adorned with small oil lamps called diyas, complemented by fireworks, adding a touch of excitement to the occasion.
Various religions commemorate different historical events during Diwali. Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile, as well as the day Mother Goddess Durga vanquished the demon Mahisha. Sikhs celebrate the release of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619, while Jains observe the moment they attain Moksha, eternal bliss, as per Lord Mahavira’s teachings.
Nestled in the heart of England, the West Midlands epitomizes cultural diversity and innovation, attracting nearly three million people. From bustling cities to serene countryside, this region offers a treasure trove of history and creativity, making it an ideal backdrop for Diwali celebrations. Mayor Andy Street, an advocate for unity and community spirit, envisions Diwali as an opportunity to bring people together, continuing the legacy of the city’s successful hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Birmingham, with its rich tapestry of races, genders, ages, and faiths, eagerly anticipates uniting in the spirit of celebration, embracing the Festival of Lights with open arms.