The biggest and brightest festival in India is only a week away, and to celebrate, the Victoria Hindu Parishad & Cultural Centre is presenting its yearly variety show in Saanich.
The Diwali Cultural Show returns to UVic’s Farqhuar Auditorium on Saturday, showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage and the talent of the VHPCC’s community members through lively entertainment. The 18th annual performance will include classical and semi-classical Indian dances, Hindi and Punjabi Bollywood songs, and traditional Bhangra music.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of work,” said VHPCC director Jay Iyer. “Organizing the venue, decorations, the logistics of selling tickets, advertisements, fundraising – all of this is done behind the scenes by volunteers who work tirelessly.
“We have kids taking part from the age of three all the way to adults. It’s all our community members who are putting on this show.”
Known as the festival of lights, Diwali is an ancient Hindu celebration that spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness. While rituals typically extend over five days, the main festival night coincides with the darkest night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika.
Putting together a show of this magnitude requires months of planning, said Iyer, with the volunteers brainstorming their performances, designing their own costumes and attending weekly rehearsals leading up to the big night.
“The kids, the adults, they all come together a couple of months before the show and try to see what they can present – whether it’s a Bollywood dance or traditional Indian dance or singing, they come up with ideas and put them together as a group,” he said.
The show attracts around 1,000 attendees every year and is the biggest annual fundraiser for the non-profit organization, with money from ticket sales going toward to running various activities at the temple, said Iyer.
“Our membership has been growing so much over the years that the present venue that we have is a bit small, so we would actually like to buy or build a new temple that will have a bigger cultural centre that will help all these Hindu families meet and share the culture of India.”
Iyer said the feedback has been tremendous from previous years as they’ve wowed audiences with their bright and colourful performances, adding that people from Duncan and Nanaimo will be coming to see the show.
“We have a lot of repeat audiences who look forward to this because they are able to enjoy a taste of India right in Victoria,” he said.
Tickets are $15 each and are available at the UVic Ticket Centre, by phone at 250-721-8480 or online at tickets.uvic.ca. Children two and under can get in free if they sit on a parent or guardian’s lap.
For more information, visit victoriahindutemple.com.