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Photos: Diwali Gala debut a 'heartwarming' celebration for the Tri-Cities

Strengthening the community and igniting cultural passion were a few of the goals achieved by the sold-out event's organizers.

Bright colours, delicious goodies and dancing highlighted the first-ever Tri-Cities Diwali Gala last Saturday (Oct. 29).

Hundreds of local residents and dignitaries filled the Port Moody Recreation Complex to celebrate light's triumph over darkness — the story behind the annual holiday and considered one of the most important on the Indian community's calendar.

This was said to be a first-of-its-kind extravaganza, according to organizers, which sold out tickets a month before the date.

Mithila Karnik, Akshita Puri, and Shubakshi and Sumit Rawla were pleased to see so many people take in the sights and sounds of the gala as Diwali had not been properly celebrated in the last two years.

"Diwali festivities have been the norm for Vancouver and Surrey, but to witness this for the first for the growing Indian diaspora within the cities of Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam was a beacon of fresh energy, community building and a grand and glamorous party like no other," reads a joint statement sent to the Tri-City News.

"Post-pandemic, it was heartwarming to see so many families come together in their Indian fineries and festive wear and the evening's emcee local stand-up comedian Harmeet Singh Kohli was quick to acknowledge and praise the glamour quotient of the event."

The success of the Tri-Cities Diwali Gala is encouraging for the possibility of hosting more in the years to come.

Organizers said a "strong pipeline" is in the works for a series of more multicultural festivities to highlight the diversity and "uniqueness" of the region.

And it's also hopeful that the Diwali Gala can be hosted by a different Tri-Cities community each year.

"We just have to wait and see which city takes up the baton for round two."

Diwali dates back centuries to the times of Lord Rama as it's described a "honourific celebration" of his defeat over evil after spending 14 years in exile from his homeland.

Among the performers at the Tri-Cities gala were fusion medley dancer Priyanka Shukla, sibling musicians Gopika and Swamit Kher, Bollywood and Bhangra dance troupes, and DJ Raytrix.

Notable community members included Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Fin Donnelly; Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart; Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West (acclaimed in 2022 civic election); Coquitlam Coun. Trish Mandewo; Port Coquitlam Coun. Steve Darling; and SD43 Trustee Jennifer Blatherwick and trustee-elect Zoe Royer.

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