The essence of Indian culture illuminated the heart of Cape Breton as the community came together for a dazzling celebration at the Diwali Gala 2023. Hosted by the Cape Breton Influencers, the event held at Sacred Heart Church was a beacon of cultural exchange and generosity, encapsulating the spirit of Diwali, the festival of lights.
The evening commenced with a warm and traditional welcome orchestrated by dedicated volunteers Prabh and Shivangi, who greeted guests with Tilak, followed by the Sons of Membertou - Graham Marshall, Jeff Ward, and Oonig Ward - extending their heartfelt traditional greetings.
Mayor Amanda MacDougall-Merrell graced the occasion, underscoring the significance of the event, which aimed to raise funds for the Scholarship Fund benefiting International Students of Indian Origin at Cape Breton University. The event successfully garnered $4,000, with President Dingwall announcing a matching support pledge of up to $5,000, aspiring to reach a total of $10,000 for the noble cause.
The cultural extravaganza unfolded with captivating performances by artists from the community including Prekshi Gulati, Karishma, Mehak Jain, Alfred, Dr. Raj Hanspal, Group Taal Tarang, and Capers Bhangra Group. Attendees were enthralled by a diverse array of entertainment, showcasing the richness and vibrancy of Indian arts and music. The highlight of the night was the exuberant fireworks display at 9:30 pm, culminating the festivities on a high note, leaving attendees awe-inspired and joyous.
Participants were effusive in their praise for the event. Brandon Jolie, Youth Leadership Coordinator at YMCA of Cape Breton Employment Services Centre, expressed his sheer delight, stating, "I had the best time. The lights, entertainment and food were incredible. I decided to wear a traditional Indian kurta, and felt nothing other than welcomed. I’ll be attending the event every year, it was hands down the most enjoyable event I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending."
Dani Mombourquette, Immigration Engagement Coordinator at Cape Breton Partnership, echoed similar sentiments, noting, "The Diwali Gala Fundraiser presented by the Cape Breton Influencers was unlike any event that I, as a Cape Bretoner, have attended."
The evening not only celebrated Indian culture but also fostered a sense of inclusivity and understanding among attendees. Families relished the opportunity to immerse themselves in a cultural experience of such grandeur, creating lasting memories for generations to come.
Congratulations to Ankit, Simran, and the Cape Breton Influencers for orchestrating an extraordinary evening that embraced diversity and unity, promising an eagerly anticipated sequel next year.
Photography by Anita Clemens