London's streets light up for Ramadan, as UK gets into Muslim fasting month

London's streets light up for Ramadan, as UK gets into Muslim fasting month
Ramadan lights brightened up the streets of Central London's Piccadilly Circus on Wednesday evening, spreading joy among British Muslims.
3 min read
23 March, 2023
The installation, led by Ramadan Lights UK, features 30,000 sustainable lights [Getty]

Ramadan lights illuminated one of London's most famous areas on Tuesday night, with a display lasting for the whole of the Muslim fasting month in Piccadilly Circus. 

The lights were switched on by the city's Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, who said this was the first time a European city had celebrated the holy Islamic month this way.

British Muslims said on Twitter that the lights gave a sense of "joy" and "solidarity" while allowing people in the UK to join in the festivities.

Ramadan, which began on Thursday, sees Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset daily before celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday which marks the end of the holy month.

The installation, led by Ramadan Lights UK, features 30,000 sustainable lights depicting phases of the moon. The Islamic calendar - and thus the dates the month of Ramadan fall on - is based upon lunar cycles.

"It's such a holy month for Muslims. And there's so many of us in this country, so we should be represented… we live in a really amazing city London is so… multicultural," Aisha Desai, the founder of Ramadan Lights UK, told The New Arab.

"I think it was also really important for me as a young Muslim woman to inspire other young Muslims, and non-Muslims, to know that the sky's the limit. We can do anything we want to do, as long as we persevere," she added.

Desai believes that initiatives like Ramadan Lights UK will help fight Islamophobia and raise awareness of Muslim traditions, beliefs, and cultural practices.

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"It's a beautiful message to say like, we see you. You are here and... this is your home. Wherever your background is from, this is your other home," Soukaina Ichanti, who visited the installation, told The New Arab.  

"We see Christmas lights and to see Ramadan lights as well it’s just a beautiful message that we should coexist despite our differences or our faiths."

Shehwar, a video blogger, told The New Arab: "It's very special and it makes me feel so proud to be a British Muslim. It just goes to show how multicultural, how multi-dimensional we are as a society. I've never been more proud to be a British person."

Ramadan Lights UK initially lit up a structure with the phases of the moon in Ramadan 2021 and placed it near London's busy North Circular Road, an orbital highway running through the British capital.

Taking it up a notch, in Ramadan 2022 Desai placed an installation in north London's Henley’s Corner, one of the city’s busiest roads. 

This year, the installation was placed in the very heart of London, on a street visited by millions during the holy month.

A large positive response to the installations inspired Desai to go bigger and better for this year’s Ramadan, which will come to an end on 21 or 22 April, depending on sightings of the moon.

This year's Ramadan Lights UK initiative was created in collaboration with the Aziz Foundation and the Heart of London Business Alliance.