Diwali celebrations extend beyond Cape Breton University campus to Indian community



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SYDNEY, NS – Bright colors, delicious sweets and spending time with loved ones is how Diwali is celebrated in India.

Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali literally means “row of lights” and is one of the biggest holidays celebrated by Indians at home and around the world.

The origin of the festival is different in different parts of India, however, there is a constant theme: victory over evil or finding light in darkness. Diwali is considered to be one of the oldest celebrated festivals in the world.

Diwali dates change every year as they follow the Indian calendar. For 2021, Diwali falls on November 4, but the celebration typically lasts for five days.

On Wednesday, a dancer with Caper Bhangra Crew performs a traditional Indian dance at the CBU cafeteria as part of Diwali celebrations at the university. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Since at least 2017, Cape Breton University has hosted Diwali events helping India’s growing student population feel at home in their new home.

For 2021, the CBU Diwali celebrations took place from November 1-4 and featured a flash mob bhangra dance performance, Mehndi (henna) hand painting, and a fashion show featuring traditional Indian clothing. from different parts of the country.

“It’s like showing everyone happiness,” said Anil Kumar Venugopal Vamer from Mumbai, India, who moved to Canada in September.

“It’s really nice to be away from the country while enjoying the festival with people from different cultures.”

Lefin Paruvaparampil Chacko, center, Kerala, India, and Anil Kumar Venugopal Vamer, Mumbai, right, distribute free Indian desserts to a woman at Cape Breton University.  Sweets are a big part of Diwali celebrations, which is why Indian students volunteered to distribute them on Tuesday.  NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST
Lefin Paruvaparampil Chacko, center, Kerala, India, and Anil Kumar Venugopal Vamer, Mumbai, right, distribute free Indian desserts to a woman at Cape Breton University. Sweets are a big part of Diwali celebrations, which is why Indian students volunteered to distribute them on Tuesday. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Ramadeep Kaur from Punjab was one of the Mehndi artists doing free henna tattoos at CBU’s Pit Lounge.

“Since we’re not in our own country it’s not the same, but we can still celebrate,” said Kaur, who moved to Cape Breton in February.

Charvi Gambhir, from Delhi, was the master of ceremonies at the fashion show held on Tuesday. Having Diwali celebrations on campus was important to her.

“We are a long way from our families for Diwali, but with the celebrations at CBU it means I can celebrate with my new CBU family,” she said.

“It’s the best thing I can think of. I feel so at home. It’s so warm and welcoming here.”

Mehndi artist Ramandeep Kaur from Punjab, India got a henna tattoo (Mehndi design) on another student at Cape Breton University on Tuesday during their four day Diwali celebrations held on the campus.  NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST
Mehndi artist Ramandeep Kaur from Punjab, India got a henna tattoo (Mehndi design) on another student at Cape Breton University on Tuesday during their four day Diwali celebrations held on the campus. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Connect graduates

However, once international students graduated from the CBU, there were no big Diwali celebrations in the CBRM. That was until this year.

This discrepancy was recognized by a group of CBU graduates from India who started AG Events and are hosting their first Diwali event on Friday.

Diwali by the Water takes place at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., dance and music performances from different parts of India are held. Next up is DJ Glyde, who has performed at the Capri Club in Sydney and Halifax, playing current hits from India and around the world.

It is an event for all ages with a VIP section 19 and over.

Cape Breton University student Kunika Kharbanda of Karnal, India, wears traditional attire from her region during Diwali celebrations at the university on Tuesday.  NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST
Cape Breton University student Kunika Kharbanda of Karnal, India, wears traditional attire from her region during Diwali celebrations at the university on Tuesday. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Gunny Brar, one of the founders of AG Events and former president of the CBU Students’ Union, said their goal was to use events like Diwali celebrations to encourage immigration to Cape Breton. .

“The problem we face is that a lot of international students who want to stay don’t end up staying because there aren’t enough people there. You can go to Halifax, you can go to Toronto and there’s always something going on, “Brar explained.

Danish Malik from Gujarat, India, stands inside Cape Breton University's The Pit bar on Tuesday, dressed in traditional attire from the region of India he hails from.  NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST
Danish Malik from Gujarat, India, stands inside Cape Breton University’s The Pit bar on Tuesday, dressed in traditional attire from the region of India he hails from. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Over two months ago, Brar and his AG Events partners met with Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall about the Diwali event, and then MP Derek Mombourquette. Both gave their support to the event that kicked off the planning.

Brar said their goal is to have an annual event as big as the PEI Cavendish Country Music Festival, featuring Indian and international music and dance, attracting spectators to visit and immigrants to stay in Cape Breton.

Colorful decorations like this exhibit featuring Ganesh, an Indian deity, were displayed in the halls of Cape Breton University during Diwali celebrations from November 1-4 this year.  NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST
Colorful decorations like this exhibit featuring Ganesh, an Indian deity, were displayed in the halls of Cape Breton University during Diwali celebrations from November 1-4 this year. NICOLE SULLIVAN / CAPE BRETON POST

Ticket sales for Diwali by the Water are going better than expected so far, with nearly all VIP tables sold out. There are no VIP tables for 10 people available and only a few tables for five people costing $ 300.

General admission costs $ 25 per person in advance and $ 30 at the door that opens at 8:30 p.m.

Nicole Sullivan is an immigration / diversity and education reporter for the Cape Breton Post.

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