COMA: Diwali eating contest participant who choked remains on life support

Diwali is celebrated all over the world. Here, foods are laid out in front of a shrine at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

A 35-year-old father is fighting for his life in hospital after he choked during an eating competition at Surrey’s Diwali celebration on Saturday.

According to family friend, Nachatar Brar, the father has been on life support surrounded by family — including his seven-year-old son and wife — since the incident.

“He’s still in bad condition,” Brar said. “His brain is not functioning.

“We’re just waiting and hoping.”

The annual Diwali event, which has seen up to 10,000 people attend in past years, was sponsored by local radio station RED 93.1 FM and hosted at Central City Shopping Centre’s outdoor plaza.

The man choked shortly after the gulab jamun eating competition began around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The rest of the day’s events were cancelled and the man was taken to Surrey Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery.

“It’s actually very emotionally trying for the family and our hopes and thoughts are with them,” RED 93.1 FM host Pooja Sekhon told Vancouver Desi.

According to Sekhon the incident is being “looked into,” but she declined to comment further.

“It’s so difficult for the family…and for the staff as well,” she said.

In a statement released by the radio station on Saturday, they said they were “in constant touch with the family” and had staff members at the hospital to “extend support to the family members.”

The free family event was expected to run into Saturday evening and was set to feature a number of performances including one by popular bhangra singer Lehmber Hussainpuri.

Gulab jamun is a popular Indian desert similar to a Timbit, made from a milk-based dough, which is deep-fried and covered in a sweet syrup.

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