This year’s Diwali gala, organized by Moncton’s Indo-Canadian Association at the Moncton Coliseum, was sold out.
“All (650) tickets were sold out before one week of this gala,” Ketan Raval, the association’s vice-president said on Monday. “We could have easily sold another two hundred or three hundred tickets.”
Diwali is a Hindu festival of light, and the most important holiday in India.
Raval said there was dance performances representing the different styles from across India, Indian food, chai, and music. The rapid growth of Moncton’s Indian community, he added, has translated into larger Diwali festivities, and his organization is seeking a larger venue for next year’s Diwali.
The most recent available census data from 2021 shows Indians make up the largest proportion of immigrants to Moncton, with hundreds coming each year. Raval estimates there are roughly 2,000 Indian immigrants living in Moncton currently.
Winston D’Souza, originally from India, has lived in Moncton for six years.
“When I moved in six years ago this was a growing community and it’s still growing,” he said.
D’Souza is a realtor who helps many Indian clients interested in coming to Moncton.
“Initially anybody from India and South Asia, but of late as more and more people know about Moncton. They want to come here,” he said.
He said Moncton’s relatively low cost of living compared to Canada’s major cities was the number one factor in attracting people.
“There’s a very nice, welcoming community here as well and whatever you need, groceries…food, there’s everything here,” he said.
Don Moore, a professor at Crandall University, attended the Diwali gala because many students in his business and management courses would be present.
“We would be getting a couple hundred students per year over the past few years from India, but also other parts of the world,” he said.
Sackville’s Indu Varma attended the gala with her family. She immigrated to New Brunswick in 1969, and said when she first came, Diwali was a much smaller affair.
“We would celebrate in our oown home, doing the best that we could with the thngs that were available so we had the candles and the lamps that we would make ourselves,” she said. “We would celebrate with friends and family but not at this large scale,” she said.
She said she’s found a new family in the extended Indian community.
“These are the people that you share your happy occasions, your sad occasions…so it becomes like a big family.”
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