LONDON: London’s West End has been lit up with 30,000 lights to mark the holy month of Ramadan, as Mayor Sadiq Khan switched on the lights in honor of the 1.28 million Muslims who live in the British capital.
Ramadan is an essential pillar of Islam and is the month-long period when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. The ritual is meant to encourage everyone to focus on their spirituality, patience, and charity.
“For the first time ever, the West End is being lit up by a beautiful display of lights to mark the holy month of Ramadan,” the mayor wrote on his Twitter post. “It was an honour to switch them on officially ahead of the start of Ramadan,” he wrote.
For the first time ever the West End is being lit up by a beautiful display of lights to mark the holy month of Ramadan ☪️✨
It was an honour to switch them on officially this evening ahead of the start of Ramadan. pic.twitter.com/t6gXpwAxiE
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) March 21, 2023
A ‘Happy Ramadan’ LED sign was hung on Coventry Street, which links Leicester Square with Piccadilly. “I wanted to raise that awareness to let our neighbors know that this is really important month for us. It’s my favorite month of the year and I’m just grateful that we’re here today,” said Aisha Desai, who organized the display.
“I remembered going to visit the Christmas lights with my sister when I was growing up and I also had an opportunity to live in the Middle East and I wanted to bring that joy and magic to London, the city that I’m from,” she said.
The lights were sponsored by the Aziz Foundation, a family charitable foundation set up in 2015 by Asif Aziz and founded by British King Charles in 2007 that works towards improving access to postgraduate education and supporting many other community projects.
Across London, an open Iftar – the meal with which Muslims break their fast at sunset – will be organized at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. A temporary mosque and Ramadan pavilion have also been set up for Muslims to enjoy.
Football giant Chelsea is also set to host an Iftar at their stadium in Stamford Bridge on March 26 – the first time a Premier Club has done so. Wembley Stadium will do the same later in the month.