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Happy Diwali: A cultural event full of colour

Kriti Dewan's personal story of celebration within her home and community.

Aashritha Royyuru prepares for her performance at Fraserview library on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
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Reported by Mandy Moon

After completing their prayers and decorating their home in traditional Diwali decor, Kriti Dewan and her family will go to temple to meet other family members, friends, and members within their community.

At temple the traditional prayers are sung for King Rama, and the whole community connects, often with people they otherwise might not get the chance to. The temple will often have a display of fireworks near the close of the ceremony, and a festive dinner will be held afterwards.

“It is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. Personally, I take that very seriously,” said Dewan.

As the Board Chair for Diwali Fest, an annual South Asian arts and culture festival, Dewan is a key member in planning many of the performances and celebrations that take place throughout the Lower Mainland.

Getting involved within the community

She first became involved eight years ago with what was then called Vancouver Celebrates Diwali Festival, looking for an impactful community organization. An important objective of theirs was to ensure that new generations do not forget the various cultural art forms of the South Asian community.

Dewan said that Diwali Fest’s mandate is to affirm the light over darkness theme, and to exemplify unity and diversity by providing a platform for multicultural artists to perform. Celebrations start about a month leading up to the date, with two performances having already taken place last week.

The first event was held at the Fraserview Public Library and focused on the dance performances by Ashritha Royyuru and Niki Patel. The performance lasted roughly an hour and had been arranged as a preview for the upcoming event on the following Saturday at Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. The event at Fraserview Public Library was described as a colourful, fast-paced Bollywood and Indian classical fusion dance performance.

Ashritha Royyuru, an Indian classically trained dancer who’s been with Diwali Fest for three years, is honoured to be apart of the organization and its mission to spread awareness of the festival.

Royyuru said, “It’s great for artists like me to be able to have a platform and perform. Local talent is always encouraged by them and is amazing to see.”

The continuum of ongoing events

The second event was held at the Roundhouse Community Centre last Saturday and featured multiple performance artists. Other artistic workshops at the event included henna tattoos, painting Diya candles, and scarf wrapping. Dewan said the Roundhouse event helps to educate those who may not know much about the festival, and offers people from South Asia who may not have a place to celebrate Diwali a familiar atmosphere that feels like home.

The Roundhouse event lasted four hours and ended with a brilliant fireworks display.

Kim Young, who had attended both the dance performance at Fraserview Public Library and the Roundhouse Community Centre, said, “It was fun.”

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