Diwali festival to be reorganized

Event to morph into new multicultural celebration

The Festival of Lights Diwali Integration event – which has brought colourful multicultural celebrations to the White Rock and South Surrey waterfront since 2014 – will not be part of the cultural scene on the Peninsula this fall.

But Moti Bali, chair of the International Community Celebration Society, said the White Rock city-supported event, which has annually celebrated the symbolic victory of light over darkness with everything from dance to fireworks, is far from dead – merely resting.

It will be back, but reorganized and formally rebranded as a new multicultural festival, in time for fall 2019, Bali – who is running for a seat on White Rock council in this October’s civic election – told Peace Arch News.

“We will be celebrating all different cultures, not confining it to Diwali only,” Bali said, noting the event’s association with the traditional South-East Asian Diwali festival of lights had meant it was tied to an October date.

“This gives us greater flexibility,” he said.

The new event is planned for Sept. 6, 2019 at what will then be a completely renovated Memorial Park at West Beach, he added.

“We’re going to be working on this for over a year,” Bali said. “The main idea is repecting each other and learning from each other and portraying love for each other in the community.”

Bali said that members of all cultures in Canada will be encouraged to participate and share their heritage at the festival, which – in keeping with past Festival of Lights policy – will emphasize live music and dance, food vendors, children’s activities and ethnic clothing from many traditions.

First Nations traditions will not be overlooked in the rebranded festival, Bali said.

“We’ll be specifically inviting Semiahmoo First Nation to participate,” he said, noting the high level of co-operation SFN has provided in offering free parking during past festivals, and in providing all of Semiahmoo Park to the ICCS as the venue for the 2017 event, due to the beginning of work at Memorial Park.

“That is part and parcel of what we’re doing – this is what I sincerely believe in,” Bali said.

More information on a new name and organizational make-up of the new festival will be announced early next year, he added.

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