Festival of lights shines in Toronto Canada
Hindus and Sikhs celebrated Diwali in a big way this year with Mahautsav, a 30-hour concert and film premiere. Mahautsav, which is being touted as the biggest and longest South Asian event in the history of Canada, took place at the Rogers Centre on Oct. 9 and 10.
The theme of the event was Continuous Party and Fun with Roger Nair, of Roger Nair Productions Inc. based in Missisasuga, Ontario and one of the presenters of the show, guarantees just that. “There is a lot of excitement. Nothing like that has happened in Canada let alone for Diwali,” said Nair. “Even the Rogers Centre said to us that this is an amazing idea but why 30 hours?’ We had to do something different. That’s the whole point.”
The event was conceived when Nair and co-presenter Hardeep Sethi were brainstorming ways to increase the profile of Diwali, the Hindu and Sikh festival of lights. “We were looking mostly to set a record in this case and to create awareness. It is such an important festival for the Hindus and the Sikhs and the diaspora now is a considerable one,” said Nair. “I went to Trinidad and Tobago and places like that where it is a national holiday so I think it is time that we bring it to North America.”
Diwali is one of the biggest Hindu festivals and a national holiday in India, marking the victory of good over evil. Hindus throughout the diaspora light small clay lamps and light firecrackers to celebrate the triumph, said Malan Joseph, the executive director of the Thiruchenthoor Murugan Temple in Toronto. “It is a long-term tradition for the Hindus,” said Joseph, “And they celebrate and wear new clothes. They are just refreshing everything. Their attitude, their culture, their clothing, their prayers. Like a lightening of your life.”
Sikh tradition additionally emphasizes Diwali as a celebration of freedom.
The concerts lineup featured 172 entertainers including singers Taz singh of Stereo Nation, Anuradha and Kavita Podwal,Mahalakshami Iyer, a comedy act from Rajiv Nigam, and a Bollywood musical " Heartthrobs" performed by artists such as Kashmira Shah, Krushna, aashka Goradia,Rakhshanda Khan,Eijaz Khan, Tina and Hussien Khwajarwala, Amit Sarin and Shakti Anand. “Expect a lot of fun, a lot of excitement and the Bollywood way of doing things. Mostly the content is Bollywood but I would be lying if I told that that is all there is,” said Nair.