A 2022 Diwali celebration in Yellowknife. Photo: Submitted
Yellowknife’s multiplex will host a 350-person Diwali gala on November 19 to bring the city’s South Asian community together.
Deepavali, or Diwali, is a five-day festival of lights – commonly celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists globally – that occurs in October or November each year based on Panchangam, or the Hindu calendar. This year, Diwali is celebrated on November 12.
Priyanka Sharma, who moved to Yellowknife last year, says her motivation to host the event stems from a lack of Indian festival celebrations.
“We should do something,” she told her friends, who helped her to arrange a similar gala last year. However, last year’s venue had capacity issues and some people could not get tickets.
Sharma said this year’s evacuation meant less time to plan another gala, but with help from sponsors Shez’s Kitchen, ECEN Immigration, EPR Yellowknife Accounting and Inder’s Independent Grocer, it wasn’t cancelled.
This year’s event starts at 7pm on November 19 with a Puja (a ceremonial prayer ritual), which will be led by Sujata Kolisetty.
“She will perform a traditional Hindu prayer with Sanskrit sholkas, inviting Lord Ganesha to eradicate all obstacles in life, and inviting Goddess Lakshmi to bless us with health, wealth and prosperity,” her daughter, Madhavi, told Cabin Radio.
The opening ceremony will be followed by dance performances, a fashion show and games. The event will have food for purchase, a crafts table and a henna tattoo table.
Sharma said finding a space to accommodate more than 300 people and making financial arrangements was a challenge. Despite that, she pushed for the event’s registration to be free, making it accessible for people to attend.
“There are lots of people moving to Yellowknife. People who are looking for jobs, or students,” she said. “It is not just Indians who celebrate Diwali. I know people from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan that are coming. It is the best way to bring people together.”
Parminder Kaur, who opened Indian restaurant Masala Kingdom along with her cousin Harmanpreet Singh in April, says business has been going well.
“I have customers from everywhere. Some people come from Behchokǫ̀, others come all the way from Nunavut,” she said.
Kaur said her family wanted to organize something special for Diwali, and had the idea of catering homemade jalebis (a traditional Indian sweet). A day after posting an advertisement on social media, the restaurant already had 10 pre-order requests.
Asked what her personal plans are for Diwali, she said: “I will mostly be working here, enjoying it with my family.”
She feels celebrating the occasion is important to showcase Indian traditions and values in a multicultural country like Canada.
“Sometimes we are misunderstood. Who are we? Where are we from? … Despite its popularity, it is a festival that is yet to be introduced in Yellowknife,” she said.