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Diwali in B.C.: A Conversation With Artistic Director, Rohit Chokhani

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A Culturally-Relevant Celebration of Diwali

Mumbai-native, Rohit Chokhani, is bringing a new province-wide Diwali celebration to the streets of Metro Vancouver. The idea behind the artistic platform, Diwali in B.C., according to Chokhani, is “not to recreate the Indian celebration of Diwali but to celebrate the new year and South Asian culture in a way that is inclusive and welcoming of other cultures that represent Metro Vancouver.” He felt it important to produce something non-denominational so that anyone of any background who felt drawn to the theatre, dance and film performances could be a part of the conversation. Diwali in B.C. is coming to life through various events taking place from October 14 – November 16, 2017.

When Chokhani left India at the age of 22 for the United States and then Canada, he missed the experiences of celebrating what is also known as the Festival of Lights with family and friends. That personal desire to connect his upbringing with his new identity as an immigrant in the Western world was the catalyst for this initiative. Using his artistic voice as a director and producer was a natural vehicle to pursue this inspiration.

On Shakti, or Feminine Power

The program he has curated centres on the theme of shakti, or feminine power. When asked about the origin of this theme, Chokhani recalled, “There are a few criteria I always watch out for because diversity and inclusivity is very important, so I always program a festival making sure that there is a good distribution of gender equity around it, and I also make sure all cultures are represented…even within the South Asian landscape.” Interestingly, all the works that grabbed his attention this year were put out by women, making the theme ‘feminine power’ come to surface almost on its own. This aligns with Chokhani’s Eastern philosophy which includes the belief that the Divine comes in masculine and feminine forms, just as people – regardless of gender – have masculine and feminine energies.

Important Cultural Conversations Through Art

This spiritual element became the perfect backdrop for cultural conversations around sex trafficking (Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan), society’s responsibility in encouraging certain destructive masculine behaviours (Anatomy of Violence), healing after abuse (Happy Place) and indigenous stories from India that make one reflect on Canadian topics such as reconciliation (Encounter), to name a few. Each performance has the incredible mandate to showcase the capability of women and “leave you with a deeper question that makes you think about life and maybe eventually help you grow as an individual or community,” according to Chokhani.

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Image Credit: Kyle Rosenberg

In addition to creating space for these important topics through Diwali in B.C., Chokhani also invests in a secondary project, Project SAT, which he describes as a platform for the next generation of theatre makers. For those who are interested in writing, directing and producing, there are numerous workshops designed to help bring dreams to life. Some of these will be held in conjunction with the Diwali initiative.

For more information about Diwali in B.C. and Jessie Richardson Theatre Award-winner Rohit Chokhani, please visit www.diwalibc.ca.

 

rohit chokhani, diwali in b.c., diwali, indian celebrations, artist events in b.c., taslim jaffer, surrey 604

Rohit Chokhani www.diwalibc.ca

Taslim combines her love of writing and social change by telling the stories that build bridges among people. Her motivating forces are her 3 children and her INFJ personality. Taslim is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Canada and Yummy Mummy Club, and a columnist for Peace Arch News. She has romantic notions of travel writing across European countrysides and historic African towns but her heart belongs to Surrey, B.C. You can connect with Taslim on Twitter and Instagram @taslimjaffer.

Events

Get in the Christmas spirit with these five local events

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A Wonderheads Christmas Carol via Surrey Civic Theatres / Facebook

The holiday season is here and that means warm drinks, baked treats and heartwarming holiday movies. Due to strict COVID-19 restrictions last year, most people spent the holiday season at home, but this year more events are available to be enjoyed safely.

If you’re looking to enjoy some Christmas carols, watch a play with family and friends or find fun activities for the kids, then look no further than these fun events that will be hosted in Surrey this month.

Swing Dance Christmas

If you have a holiday party to attend this month and you want to brush up on your dancing skills, try taking a swing dancing class. Rock Step Swing Dance is hosting a swing dance Christmas event on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. The class will be 45 minutes and attendees will enjoy some Christmas snacks and a dance session afterwards. The class costs $20 and anyone who wants to attend can get their tickets here. There are 75 spots available in the class.

Alice in Wonderland

The holiday season is also a time to revisit childhood memories by watching a panto. The Royal Canadian Theatre Company will be presenting the play Alice in Wonderland, written by Crystal Weltzin, at the Surrey Arts Centre. The play will run from Dec. 16 to 19, 23, 24 and 26. Tickets cost $34.99 for adults, and $29.99 for seniors over 60 years of age and children under 12. If you want to make it a family outing, there is a group price of $115 for four people.

Christmas Train

For a more active event for children, check out Bear Creek Park’s Christmas train from Dec. 6 to 31, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Families with two children and two adults can pay $35 to attend and single tickets are $11.50. In this train ride, families will get to enjoy all things Christmas like Santa, hot cocoa, Christmas music and pretty lights.

A Christmas Carol

Another Christmas show to check out is A Wonderheads Christmas Carol presented by the Wonderheads at the Surrey Civic theatre on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. If you enjoyed Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you’ll be sure to enjoy this play because this is reportedly an adaptation of the novel. Tickets are $26 for children and $39 for adults and they are going fast.

Christmas Choir

For those who love the sounds of Christmas, check out the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir who will be performing at the Surrey Arts Centre on Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. This group of talented men have reportedly been performing in Surrey for the past 30 years. Attendees are required to show their vaccine card and wear a mask, and tickets are $29 and can be purchased here.

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The Surrey Holiday Lights festival is kicking off next week

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Image via Surrey Holiday Lights / Facebook

There is a spectacular and dazzling new light and music festival coming to Surrey Civic Plaza this holiday season called Surrey Holiday Lights.

It will follow the annual Surrey Tree Lighting Festival which takes place on Nov. 20, and will remain open into January. There will be live entertainment, carollers, and an immersive Christmas lights extravaganza.

What to expect at the Surrey Holiday Lights festival 

There will be a tent with Santa and his elves, his workshop, and a holiday house. Enjoy enchanting displays in the Glow Gardens with interactive areas and light tunnels. Then sway to live entertainment taking place at the North Pole and Snowflake stages.

As expected you will be treated with a variety of holiday eats. There will be food trucks serving up mini doughnuts, twisted potatoes, crepes, savoury meals, and many tasty snacks. Stay warm with gourmet hot chocolate, special coffees, or enjoy a craft beer or cooler.

There will also be a chance to catch a glimpse of Santa himself. Santa will be taking free photos through the month of December.

The festival will run daily from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Surrey Civic Plaza, 13450 104 Avenue. For more information, visit www.surreyholidaylights.com.

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A brand new immersive light festival is coming to Surrey next month

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The Lumagica light festival is making its Canadian debut right here in Surrey.  

Starting Dec. 3, guests will get to experience a holiday festival of lights like never before. Lumagica is an outdoor/indoor event that is bringing joy and brightness to every city it touches. 

Lumagica, created by MK Illuminations, provides a unique opportunity to get into the holiday spirit. It has been experienced on a global level, and is now coming to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. 

With more than 120 features and ornaments, a light tunnel, magical North Pole village, Gingerbread Lane and a fully lit forest, there is so much to enjoy. You can stroll along a one kilometre light walk and feel the magic of Christmas. Do all this while warming up with a cup of cocoa, mulled wine, or one of the other food and drink options available. 

There will also be an opportunity to visit Jolly Ol’ St. Nick and his cabin in the North Pole. There you will also find a wide array of delicious treats and eats, live entertainment, or go shopping at the marketplace. 

To get the full experience along with memories to take home, be sure to have your camera ready to capture the festive backdrops for holiday photos. 

Lumagica will be held at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in Surrey from December 3 to 30, 2021. The immersive experience will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Tickets start is $16 and are available online at lumagica.ca. Children under age 4 are free, and discounts will be offered for families, post-secondary students, and seniors.

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Where to be spooked this Halloween weekend

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Image via Cougar Creek's House of Horrors / Facebook

It’s that time of year where we carve pumpkins, indulge in scary movies, check out haunted houses and fill ourselves up with candy. There are so many local activities in Surrey to partake in this Halloween that it’s hard to pick just one.

If you’re struggling to narrow down how to spend Oct. 31, we’ve put together a list of spooktacular outings that shouldn’t be missed. Whether you’re looking for a haunted house, a place to enjoy spooky treats or just somewhere to play Halloween games, Surrey has it.

Halloween Pumpkin Express 

For families with young children, Halloween Pumpkin Express will be a good place to check out. It’s at Bear Creek Park and families can enjoy a train ride through the forest. The tickets for the daytime train ride cost $11.50 each for anyone over age 2, and $14.70 for the night train which is recommended for people over the age of 12.

The kids on the train will reportedly receive a snack as they enjoy their ride and a little pumpkin to take home. The day train runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the night train runs from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors

Now, if you’re looking to get scared, look no further. What was formerly known as Potter’s House of Horrors has been renamed to Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors — and it’s just as scary as ever.

Get ready for a double dose of fright because each ticket allows access to two haunted houses. Tickets can be purchased online and the website advises that they sell out fast.

Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors requires proof of full vaccination for customers 12 and up to access the haunted house. You can pick anytime from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. this Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the last day to check out this haunted house and it will be open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that night.

Mainland Whiskey’s trivia and costume contest 

For costume contests and fun trivia games, Mainland Whiskey, a distillery in South Surrey is offering a fun Halloween night on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. The distillery promises yummy soul food, fun prizes, and spooky cocktails.

The trivia will start at 7 p.m. and space is limited so make sure to arrive on time.

Spooky desserts at Rocky Mountain Chocolate 

Of course the perfect way to end Halloween is with some yummy spooky desserts. Head over to Guildford Town Centre for some sugary treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate. There are also spooky chocolate packages available online.

Make sure to check out as many fun and frightening places as possible and celebrate safely.

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There could be another music festival coming to Surrey this fall

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The FVDED in the Park music festival last weekend was just the beginning. Music lovers in Surrey can get geared up for another festival coming their way — the Contact Winter Music Festival.

The Contact Festival pulled off an epic show in Vancouver earlier this year. In February the show took place on the roof of BC Place Stadium. Fans were able to watch virtually and enjoy live music to beat the pandemic blues.

Now it appears that the Contact Festival may take place in October at Surrey’s Holland Park.

There haven’t been a lot of details released to confirm the event, nor tickets on sale, however Stay Happening has announced that the festival will take place from October 8 to 10, 2021.

Contact Festival & The Organizers

The Contact Winter Music Festival has been running since 2012, and normally takes place inside BC Place, hosting 36,000 people. The music played and presented is the best in EDM (electronic dance music). The 2-day festival highlights up-and-coming Canadian artists.

This event normally takes place in December, but was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Event organizers then put together a virtual performance that was broadcasted live from the roof of BC Place.

Now there are murmurs of the festival taking place in Holland Park this October, perhaps to a smaller degree.

FVDED in the Park just wrapped up on September 11 at Surrey’s Holland Park, and this festival is brought on by the same event organizers, BluePrint. FVDED also brought together technical and electronic music, with headliners such as DeadMau5.

BluePrint operates venues like Celebrities Night Club on Davie Street, Venue on Granville Street and the Fortune Sound Club on East Pender, all in Vancouver.

Holland Park

Holland Park is a popular park in Surrey’s City Centre and is located beside Central City. The park is huge, covering 10 hectares. Although it isn’t the largest park, it is often referred to as the “Central Park” of Surrey.

One of the main draws for Holland Park is its ability to host events. There have been numerous events and festivals organized at this park over the years. 

Fans are excited to learn more details about the Contact Festival in hopes that Surrey’s City Centre will get another major event.

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