Festival’s light-bulb idea to mark diversity

Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
Natya classical Indian and Bollywood dancers Alia Golestani, Ramona Zare, Ahalya Harikumar and Shirin Schreiber.
Camera IconNatya classical Indian and Bollywood dancers Alia Golestani, Ramona Zare, Ahalya Harikumar and Shirin Schreiber.

A popular annual festival has not let the global pandemic get in the way of sharing the variety of cultures that call the Mid West home.

The Midwest Multicultural Association will hit the big screen this Saturday after COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible for it to host its regular Festival of Lights at the Geraldton foreshore.

Last year’s festival brought thousands of people together to celebrate cultural diversity with music, dance and art from all corners of the world while enjoying food and crafts sold by local vendors. But this year, local filmmaker Dragonfly Media has filmed volunteer cultural group performances in different locations around the city, with the feature film The eFestival of Lights 2020 to be screened at Geraldton’s Orana Cinemas on Saturday.

Sania Sajeev performing for the eFestival of Lights film.
Camera IconSania Sajeev performing for the eFestival of Lights film. Credit: GJP30LSOR.3

MMA president Tom Mwangi said with the difficulties of 2020, the association had embraced the challenge to share cultural experiences.

“Because of COVID-19 we thought we’d try something different and deliver the festival in a different format” he said.

“We have filmed the performers that would normally support the festival and offer that to the Geraldton community until things are much better and we can get back to doing things a normal way.

“Our polling discovered there are over 60 nationalities of people in town, so we are proud to have a good opportunity to celebrate our cultural diversity.”

Ernest Gutsa, Yvonne Marsden, Tom Mwangi, Maria Flavel and Hari Kumar at a Deepa Jyoti (lighting of the lamp) ceremony.
Camera IconErnest Gutsa, Yvonne Marsden, Tom Mwangi, Maria Flavel and Hari Kumar at a Deepa Jyoti (lighting of the lamp) ceremony.

The family-friendly festival started as the November Indian festival of lights — Diwali — and has come to include a range of light festivals from different cultures with the support of the local Indian community.

Tickets for the 3.30pm showing of the film are available through Trybooking.

The organisation aims to build harmony in the community through cultural awareness, English as a second language classes and inclusive activities.

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