Greater Victoria Diwali celebrations take place online this year due to COVID-19 and the setlists are stacked with performances by dancers, singers and young actors.
On Nov. 14 and 15, the Victoria Hindu Parishad and Cultural Center, based in Saanichton, will host a virtual Diwali cultural show.
Diwali celebrations will be different this year. The Victoria Hindu Parishad and Cultural Center is holding a Virtual Cultural Show.
— Fred Haynes Ph.D. (@HaynesSaanich) November 9, 2020
The celebrations feature some 60 performances including dancing, singing, plays and even a fashion and jewelry show, said Sridevi Ganti, public relations officer for the cultural centre.
She noted that traditionally, the Victoria Hindu Parishad and Cultural Center hosts Diwali – short of Deepavali meaning “row of lights” – celebrations at the Farquhar Auditorium on the University of Victoria campus with thousands of attendees. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, organizers decided the safest option was to move this year’s festivities online.
After putting out a request for interested performers, organizers received an “overwhelming response,” Ganti said. Nearly 60 entrants ranging in age from two years old to over 50 – all wanting to perform everything from Bhangra dancing to Bollywood songs – have registered and submitted their videos.
With so many performances lined up, organizers opted to host virtual shows on Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. Each will feature different performances so Ganti recommends tuning in for both.
While the community can’t come together as in a normal year, the festival can still be celebrated by spending time with family, eating sweets and lighting oil lamps – traditionally a clay bowl with a wick, she said.
The message of Diwali is “good over evil, light over darkness,” and the festival is marked by cleansing the home, being with family and bringing the positive light in to rid the self of negativity, Ganti explained, adding that this year, COVID-19 is among the dark things to be rid of.
She noted that a group of children ages 2 through 5 will be performing a play “depicting the story of the festival” and the king who defeated a demon.