DIWALI: Vancouver celebrates ‘the universal light that exists in everyone’

Published: November 7, 2012

Saturday’s grand finale of Vancouver Celebrates Diwali is an international drum jam, featuring the group Sticks ’n’ Skins. Submitted photo


Vancouver Celebrates Diwali is a seven-day-long “cultural extravaganza.”

The ninth annual festival kicked off Nov. 3 with workshops in community centres across the city and continues until its grand finale Nov. 10 with Diwali Downtown at Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Centre.

The neighbourhood workshops consisted of Diwali programming like diya painting for children, sari wrapping demonstrations and henna painting.

“This is how we bring the spirit and traditions of Diwali out into the city and into neighbourhoods,” said festival producer Sean Devine.

The workshops are also a great way for the community to get involved in the celebrations if they can’t make it to the downtown event, said event co-chair, Ashley Avinashi. “There’s something in any of those workshops for everyone,” she said.

For more on Surrey’s Diwali celebrations, click here.

But for Avinashi, it all leads up to Diwali Downtown.

“I love the Saturday event,” she said.

In 2010, 5,000 people came out to the Roundhouse and they’re prepared for about the same this year.

The main event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. with  a number of performances from live music and dancing, to compilation artists — or “Diwali fusions” — a craft bazaar and a ton of food.

Devine suggests to watch out for musical group LAPIS, featuring classical Indian sitar player Mohamed Assani fused with local hip-hop artist Rup Sidhu as well as kathak flamenco performances: a fusion of classical Indian dance and flamenco, and of course tasty menu items from Vancouver’s famous Vij’s Railway Express.

“We just kind of turn it into a big massive Indian festival for that one day,” said Devine. “When coming to Diwali Downtown [our audience] gets to watch shows, they get to take part in interactive workshops and learn about Diwali, culture, dance workshops, buy and build crafts and eat some pretty fantastic food.”

Saturday’s grand finale is an international drum jam, featuring the group Sticks ’n’ Skins along with a lantern lighting procession, which coincides with themes of Illumination and Cultural Fusion and the slogan, “light your spirit.”

“Diwali is a holiday that celebrates the victory of light over darkness . . . good over evil, of prosperity over poverty,” said Devine. “Diwali celebrates the universal light that exists in everyone.

“We don’t just mean lighting things up, we also just mean illuminating our community and our audience about what Diwali stands for.”

“Focusing on cultural fusion” means the celebrations extend beyond the local South Asian community – it’s open for everyone.

“This has not only become a festival that showcases talent within the Southeast Asian community, but we’ve really been able to invite a lot of people from outside cultures to bring and showcase their talents,” said Avinashi. “It’s really fun to see just such a wide group of individuals from all walks of life come out to enjoy talent that once traditionally we thought only our own cultures were into.”

“It really just caters to a very broad audience.”

Devine believes the holiday serves as a positive lens for multiculturalism.

“We really do use this as a cultural lens for developing harmony, for community building and for just continuing to put out positive images and positive association with South Asian culture and the South Asian community in Vancouver since that itself is becoming more and more important,” he said. “They’ll see that South Asian culture and the holiday of Diwali is really becoming a prominent part of [the city].

“It represents the very, very eclectic nature that is Vancouver.”




Video: Rescue story of a dog that fell into hot tar and turned into a rock

VANCOUVER DESI A team of animal rescuers in Western India spent two days working to free a helpless dog trapped in a pile of hot…
Continue Reading »


Surrey Sikh temple hit-and-run still a mystery after two years

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — Surrey Mounties believe somebody must have seen something that can help investigators solve a hit-and-run crash that happened two…
Continue Reading »


Kids sweatshirts made in Pakistan and sold at Kroger, Fred Meyer stores in the U.S. recalled for choking hazard

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — Nearly 8,000 children’s hoodies are being recalled because of a possible choking risk. No injuries have been reported, but…
Continue Reading »


Global index ranks Norway tops, Afghanistan worst for well-being of older citizens

By David Crary THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — Canada ranks fourth when it comes to the well-being of its older residents, according to a…
Continue Reading »

Canada’s disaster assistance team ill-suited to help Ebola crisis, Harper says

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team isn’t well-suited to be of much help in the unfolding…
Continue Reading »

Canada’s disaster assistance team ill-suited to help Ebola crisis, Harper says

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team isn’t well-suited to be of much help in the unfolding…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

body image-beauty-weight-control

Self-compassion leads to positive body image in women

IANS Toronto – Women who accept and tolerate their bodily imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their high body mass index…
Continue Reading »

British comedian John Oliver takes aim at Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's U.S. visit on his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. YouTube/Screengrab.

British comedian John Oliver again covers Indian politics in HBO show, takes aim at Modi’s U.S. visit (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI British comedian John Oliver has covered Indian politics yet again on his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In this…
Continue Reading »


Last remaining family member of Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh dies in Toronto

IANS Chandigarh — The younger sister and last remaining blood relative of revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh has died in Canada, according to relatives in…
Continue Reading »

Komagata Maru

India honours 100-year anniversary of Komagata Maru with commemorative coins

IANS New Delhi — India on Monday released a set of special coins as part of a year-long centenary commemoration of the 1914 Komagata Maru…
Continue Reading »

Sandy Sidhu main.jpg

Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to appear in film at VIFF, but the actress is still waiting for her big break

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI It took years for Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to admit that she was an aspiring actress. Enrolled at UBC for cell biology…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest

Shah Rukh Khan Deepika Padukone Bollywood sex

Shah Rukh Khan: My films are never male-oriented (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Shah Rukh Khan may be a name big enough to make a film a blockbuster on his own, but he says that his…
Continue Reading »

Sonam Kapoor

Gallery: 10 celebs who did not let diabetes rule their lives

VANCOUVER DESI Did you know Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor has been living with Diabetes from her teen years? And her Pakistani co-star in Khoobsurat — Fawad…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Indian court blocks 72 websites from streaming Bollywood movie ‘Bang Bang’

IANS New Delhi – The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed various internet and telecom service providers to block access to 72 websites hosting the yet-to-be…
Continue Reading »