Getting Ready for the Year of the Rabbit

Chinese Chinese New Year celebrations will be in full swing this weekend and Chinatown is taking shape. Here’s some pictures of a quick wander round.

Yellow Lanterns


Chinatown Goodies

Macclesfield Street

Big Dragon

Window Painter



I’ll be doing a Listen to a Londoner post – the last one before I leave London – next Saturday, so I invite you to throw questions at me to answer through this week. I’ll pick 10 of the best for Saturday. Leave them in the comments or email me at

Baishakhi Mela: Bengali New Year

Last Sunday was Bengali New Year and the biggest celebration outside of South Asia took place around Weavers Fields, Allen Gardens and Brick Lane. 110,000 made it a record-breaking event.

Included in the festivities was a mechanical animal parade. We were down there for other reasons and didn’t get to see too much of the festival, but did manage a glimpse of a few floats starting off on the route. Here’s a few pictures of those. If you were down there and have some pics of your own to share, add them to the Flickr pool.

Baishakhi Mela Boat 2

Baishaki Mela Float

Baishaki Mela Dancers

Baishaki Mela

Baishaki Mela Flower Float

Baishaki Mela Turtle

Baishaki Mela Elephant 3

Chinese New Year

As I’ve said in the past, one of the best things about London is the merging of cultures.

This afternoon, I walked through Chinatown for the New Year celebration with an English friend and four Estonians – three of them couch-surfing at his place. We ate in a restaurant nearby – a Chinese buffet with Chinese karaoke of some sort on TVs in front of us. While there, two of the Estonians were speaking Russian with people at a table next to us.

Like the area of East London where street signs are written in both Bengali and English, in Chinatown, they are written in Chinese and English.

I took a few photos, but it was raining, crowded and we didn’t get to see much because we were there a bit late, but here’s a couple.

[It’s also Mongolian New Year so happy New Year to my Mongolian friends as well! :)]

Diwali in Southall

K and I went to Southall last night in search of a good Diwali atmosphere and we certainly found it. I was surprised that my Indian boyfriend had never celebrated the holiday there, so it was a new experience for both of us which made it even better.

All we did was wander down different streets, but everyone was out in their front gardens lighting off fireworks in the streets. Stepping out of Southall station, you are on top of a hill and surrounded by firework displays in every direction. Incredible. If you closed your eyes, it was easy to picture yourself in the middle of a war zone…. and some of the streets we walked down felt like one too! Here’s a photo of a gorgeous temple and below some videos that don’t quite capture the full magic of it, but they’re an idea.

Diwali is called the Festival of Lights. It’s meant to signify light overcoming darkness in different religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, jainism, Sikhism, etc. Of course, like most holidays, it’s a time when people get together and socialise and eat. It’s more religious for some people than others. Diyas, which are small clay pots filled with oil and a long lit candle wick are lit, or just candles. In Hinduism, the lights are a reminder of the story of Rama, an exiled deity who returns to his home along a lamplit pathway….There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist of it.