Diwali in BC celebrates Festival of Lights in Cranbrook

For the first time, Cranbrook will be celebrating the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Diwali in B.C. is coming to the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook. Known as the Festival of Lights, which celebrates the victory of light over darkness, Diwali is one the biggest holidays of the year for South Asian communities around the world, is marked with music, dance and shared spirit.

Bringing Diwali in B.C. to Cranbrook is the show’s Artistic Director and creator Rohit Chokhani, who spoke to the Townsman from Vancouver.

“Our format wants to create an evening where everybody’s entertained by a showcase of multi-cultural artists from different practices and different cultural backgrounds,” Rohit said. “It tends to bring local artists and non-local artists together. Audiences should expect a high energy, entertaining evening.”

Headlining the festival is the famed Shiamak Dancers, a troupe formed by Shiamak Davar, a legendary Bollywood choreographer.

“If you watch a lot of Indian movies you’ve probably come across dancing and choreography by him,” Rohit said. “He has one of the largest dance schools in the world. He’s set up different groups all over the world, and outside of India, one of the most active groups happens to be in Vancouver.

“Diwali in B.C. has been working for a long time with Shiamak Dance Troupe, and they’re going to be the headliners for this event. They’re going to be teaching the Bollywood moves at the workshop. And all events are interactive, so they’ll probably be teaching those moves to the audience.”

Bollywood is only one aspect of Diwali in B.C. Classical and different South Asian dance performances are also on the menu, including danceuse and performance artist Ashvini Sundaram and renowned sitar player Mohamed Assani.

“Mohamed is a headlining artist who’s been performing for quite some time,” Rohit said. “We’re blessed to have him. Together [Assani and tabla player Gurdit Singh Namdhari] will take you out of the ordinary realm of musicality, for sure.”

“We are also looking to showcase local artists in Cranbrook. It’s an opportunity for artists from Cranbrook and artists from Vancouver to come together.”

Rohit stressed that Diwali is for everyone.

“It’s meant for all, it’s meant for everyone — wherever you do it, everyone is going to celebrate it,” he said. “The whole idea of celebrating Diwali and the spirit of light over darkness is to bring people together regardless of your background.”

Diwali is a global festival, and represents the universality of the human spirit.

“I often use the tagline “share our spirit” at our events. No matter who you are, what your background, your gender, your orientation, come and share who you are.”

Diwali in BC this year is from October 6 to November 1.

“This year we’re doing the inaugural performance in Cranbrook, followed by a weeklong ‘festival within a festival’ in Vernon,” Rohit said. “I’m really excited about our first time in Cranbrook. I hope people will come and support it and enjoy it, and then we can repeat it some other year.”

Diwali in BC: A Festival of Arts & Culture plays Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre Friday, October 11. The reception is at 6 pm, the performance starts at 7 pm.

The “Get your Bollywood on!” Dance Workshop is on Thursday October 10 at 6:30 pm at Key City Theatre. The $40 Fee includes ticket to the show.

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