Diwali on foreign shores; Toronto, Canada World champion
According to a survey done by an airfare deals website, Diwali happens to be one of the top five festivals of the world that shouldn’t be missed. The festival of lights is no longer limited to Indian shores – in fact, it’s as famous as Bollywood all over the world. From Seattle to Melbourne, the NRI community and even foreigners celebrate Diwali with great fervour. From donning typical Bollywood-style clothes to grand shows where Indian celebs are more than happy to perform, Diwali is pretty big in the global scenario.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper highlighted the Indo-Canadian community’s contributions during a Diwali celebration recently. “Diwali, or the festival of lights, illuminates the universal hope of all people for the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil,” said Harper.
The Canadian city of Toronto celebrated Diwali in a big way recently, with 30 hours of non-stop festive celebration. It hosted a Diwali entertainment show called the Mahutsav Diwali festival, that had bhangra, dandiya, Ramlila, yoga and live performances by 14 Indian cinema and TV personalities and musicians, which included Kashmera Shah, Krushna, Tina, Hussain, KK, Eijaz Khan, Rakshanda Khan, Anuradha and Kavita Paudwal, Stereo Nation, Mahalakshmi Iyer and more. The organiser, Roger Nair, who was very sleepy after these 30 hours when we spoke to him, said, “Here in Canada, my friend Harpreet Sethi and I noticed how Indian kids would celebrate Christmas and Halloween, but Diwali was a very low-key affair. So we decided to celebrate it in a big way.” The show has been called the longest running show ever by some Canadian newspapers. The organisers had applied for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, but “the team couldn’t come, probably because we applied a little late,” says Roger. Harpreet Sethi who owns a Radisson Plaza Hotel in Mississauga is the hotelier Roger is mentioning wen he says Harpreet
Kashmera, who danced to Bollywood numbers like Patli Kamar Chikna Badan, Tu Sala Kam Se Gaya and No Entry, says she loved the show thoroughly. “I didn’t know we were so popular in Canada. There were about 28,000 people who attended our performances.” And apart from requests for photographs and autographs, Kashmera also got some marriage proposals! “There were people who asked for autographs and photographs and some asked me to marry them! It was all fun,” she laughs. Apart from solo numbers, Kashmera showed off some sultry moves with Krushna too. Krushna says, “It was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”
The Seattle Art Museum will go totally Bollywood when it throws its Diwali Ball 2009 to celebrate India’s festival of lights. The museum’s ball includes dancing to Bollywood grooves spun by disc jockey Aanshul and live Indian music by Das Dhoon. The festival also offers Indian food along with wine, beer or a signature Diwali Ball cocktail, while you watch the energetic dancers from Rhythms of India perform bhangra and other Indian dances, and adorn your hands and arms in mehndi.
Despite the recent tension over alleged racial attacks on Indians in Australia, Diwali is a big deal in Melbourne. More than 50,000 people in the city gathered at the Federation Square to celebrate Diwali on October 9. The celebration was also attended by the premier of Victoria, John Brumby. He said that Diwali
was an important occasion for the Indian
community and a great example of how Victoria’s multicultural communities come together to share their cultures. “Diwali is... a festive occasion that offers a wonderful combination of revelry and tradition. And it’s a festival that is enjoyed by people of different faiths and backgrounds across the world,” said Brumby. The festival featured Bollywood dance and music performances and workshops, Indian fashion and craft displays, food, jewellery, music and movies, clothing and other variety stalls, a magic show for children, mehndi and a sunset fireworks display.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
The land of the Kiwis also celebrates Diwali because of the large Indian community there and the influence of Bollywood. Diwali has been an annual affair in Wellington for a couple of years now. The Diwali festival includes the very popular and colourful Diwali mela day, with non-stop local and international entertainment, Bollywood music and dance competitions, exhibitions, craft stalls, food stalls, displays and children’s activities.
Like in other parts of the world, Diwali is a huge affair in London as well, what with its large Indian-origin population. The Diwali In London (or DIL) committee has been taking care of the Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square for several years. Nil Kumar, who was the master of ceremonies and is a member of DIL, says, “The whole square, full of people, danced to the beats of the garba for about 70 minutes. The deputy mayor of London and Baba Ramdev inaugurated the celebrations. There were live performances by the band Shama and friends, and cultural performances which included Kathak and fusion.” Nil said that the crowd at the venue was a mixed crowd. A message from the mayor of London, available on DIL’s website, reads, “Diwali is a beautiful festival that can be enjoyed by every community and I’m delighted that Trafalgar Square will again play host to the Diwali celebrations. This is not only an occasion of great significance to Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but with its underlying themes of peace and mutual respect, it has relevance and meaning for all Londoners. I would like to thank the Diwali In London Committee and the sponsors for all their support and wish everyone a happy and prosperous Diwali.” (With inputs from ANI ) Toronto Took it hands down as the best celeberation in the world.
(Here & above) Snapshots of the Diwali show in Toronto