Yesterday (March 21), lights celebrating the beginning of the festival of Ramadan were switched on in the West End for the first time.
Crescent Moons, stars, and lantern-shaped lights now illuminate Coventry Street, with a large, sparkling sign reading ‘Happy Ramadan’ at the centre of the decorations.
Coventry Street joins Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, and the shapes are due to light up every day throughout the month-long festival celebrated by Muslims, which begins tomorrow (March 23) morning at sunrise. The lights will illuminate the street throughout the month, all the way to April 23.
The Ramadan Lights Campaign
The light display comes in the wake of a campaign launched by Aisha Desai, who began pushing for Ramadan Lights in London three years ago. This was run completely on donations, and has seen Ramadan light displays crop up around London in past years – but none quite like the current spectacle!
In a post to the website of the non-profit organisation Ramadan Lights UK, she said:
“As a child, a trip into central London to see the festive lights was an annual treat. My sister and I would lie in the back of the car looking at the lights through the sunroof. It was magical.
“As a proud Muslim, I wanted to bring some of that magic to my community. And three years ago, that journey began with Ramadan Lights. And our generous donors have helped us go from strength to strength.”
Detailing the journey the lights have taken, Aisha Desi also said:
“Year one brought the lights to my local community in Henley’s Corner on the North Circular. Year two took their beauty to the tourists and the Lions of Trafalgar Square. This year I am so proud that our lights will line one of London’s most famous streets – Coventry Street, the road that joins Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square.”
A historic light display
Mayor Sadiq Khan was on hand to switch on the lights for the first time, and wrote online that the historical moment marked the “first major city in Europe” to host a display like this for Ramadan.
The Ramadan Lights will illuminate Coventry Street every day until April 23 between 5pm and 1am. The first fast for Ramadan in London is tomorrow morning (March 23) from sunrise.