Diwali will be celebrated differently in Surrey and the rest of Metro Vancouver this year, with some events transferred to the digital world.
Among them is the annual 5X Festival, which aims to replace in-person parties and events with virtual performances and other ways of engaging an audience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Surrey-based festival organizers will celebrate Diwali with a 5X MainStage event on the weekend of Nov. 14-15, online at 5xfest.com.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is this year on Saturday, Nov. 14 — a day for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists to celebrate victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
5X aims to champion South Asian youth culture for ages 16 to 35, according to a bio, and has featured a flagship Surrey festival outdoors in recent years, including one in June 2019.
“Over the past few months the festival has gone global and tripled their engagement with over 30k digital festival attendees versus their average 10k in-person attendees,” says a 2020 event advisory.
The Mainstage event will feature performances Kay Ray, The Sandy Lion, Avan Jogia, Pallavi Sharda, Alok Menon, BFunk, Navpreet Banga of Brown Girl Lifts and Sangtar.
The digital festival has already featured the likes of Lisa Ray, Jazzy B, Cartel Madras, Saint Soldier, Raaginder, Horsepowar, “all providing exclusive content specifically for the 5X Festival audience,” event planners say.
The festival app, powered by the Stepathlon platform, “has provided a positive alternative outlet for so many South Asian students and young adults who otherwise have a lack of outlets during these unprecedented times. The app provides a place for creativity to bloom, encourage physical activity and to connect with other like-minded youth from across the globe.”
Launched Sept. 28, a 5X Race to the Stage app is available on iOS and Android devices through the App Store, now until Nov. 13. With 40 in-app “stages,” festival goers move around in the physical world to unlock exclusive content.
“There are approximately 210 million South Asian millennials in North America and India alone, and as we anticipate another COVID-19 lockdown, we want to unite our community beyond physical boundaries,” said Tarun Nayar, executive director of 5X Festival.
“At 5X we create safe spaces where artists can meet artists, novices can meet masters, and fans can be inspired to find their inner artist. 5X Race to the Stage is our way of taking these safe spaces to the world, and inspiring our community to stay connected and healthy during these tough times.”
Festival sponsors include City of Surrey, City of Vancouver, Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada, the BC Arts Council and the Province of British Columbia.