Buckle up and hop on a cultural roller coaster filled with vibrant colours, creative costumes and a jam-packed gymnasium all set to celebrate the spirited nine day festival known as Navratri.
The annual South Asian festival kicks off this weekend at Burnaby’s BCIT Campus. The festival is an opportunity to meet fellow members in the community and learn a few dance moves alongside hundreds of talented individuals. From minors to seniors, students to toddlers, everyone is invited to celebrate.
Nearly entering the festival’s silver anniversary, dance styles such as Raas and Garba continue to transcend global barriers with no end in sight. It’s one of the many cultural secrets the Lower Mainland has to offer and now an additional candle has been lit leading up to one of India’s most famous festivals, Diwali.
While the youth have always played an integral role in the event’s development, it needed a spark to rejuvenate the cause and illustrate that it is more of a celebration rather than a religious event. That spark has been ignited since BCIT got into the picture and marketing student, Preetal Bhatt notes that the campus’ involvement is increasing the excitement.
“It is a great feeling to be a student at BCIT and have Navratri celebrated and represented. It is such an exuberant festival and it draws huge crowds, which is not only great for the campus but it caters to a lot of students who are curious and want to get a taste of the culture.”
Every year, the festival is hosted by the Gujarati Society of British Columbia, a cultural, charitable and educational non-profit organization. The society is one of the largest cultural organizations in the Lower Mainland, with thousands of Gujarati-speaking members and supporters.
President of the Gujarati Society, Rajan Raniga did not hesitate to host the festival at BCIT for the third consecutive year. After gaining popularity among the South Asian community, the festival is beginning to cross borders and increase interest within other communities.
“A lot of youth outside the Gujarati community come out to celebrate Navratri. We as a society always emphasize the youth to get involved because it is the youth who keep the culture going and bring their millennial perspective to the table.”
Now, it’s vividly clear that Navratri is a South Asian festival that heavily relies on dance and as a result, that may scare a handful of people that are probably questioning their ability to participate.
Have no fear because according to Bhatt, the rookies are exactly what the festival is looking for.
“We want new individuals. We want those who have no idea what they’re doing because once they walk in, they will notice everyone welcoming them with open arms. There’s over 800 people in that gym and you always see one teaching another. It’s a celebration that people cannot afford to miss.”
Time to dust off those dandiyas and strap on your dancing shoes.
Navratri Vancouver 2013 celebrations
When: October 5, 11, 12 and 13
Where: BCIT – 3700 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby
Gymnasium in the SE16 building
*Parking lot entrance off Wayburne Drive
Tickets: $5 for general admission, ages 10 and under are free
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/officialgsbc.