Manitoba

Digital festival celebrates community, diversity in Manitoba through short films

You may not be able to travel the world to experience different cultures right now, but one online festival aims to help Manitobans get to know the different cultures that exist right here at home.

Ethno Fest 2021 runs until the end of September on U Multicultural Channel's YouTube and website

Lakshika Prasad was involved in a video about Indian women's cultural adornments for Ethno Fest 2021. (Ethno Fest 2021)

You may not be able to travel the world to experience different cultures right now, but one online festival aims to help Manitobans get to know the different cultures that exist right here at home.

Ethno Fest is an online destination to help people learn about the language, music, dance, food and history of more than 30 different cultural groups in Manitoba. It's being hosted by the U Multicultural Channel, a non-profit, community-based media platform.

"During the pandemic, we wanted to enlighten some people, bring them together to celebrate community," said Ryan Funk, a spokesperson from U Multicultural Channel, on CBC Winnipeg News at 6:00 on Friday.

The festival allows people to talk about their culture in their own words.

One of the people featured in Ethno Fest 2021 is Lakshika Prasad, a Women's and Gender Studies student at the University of Winnipeg. She moved to Winnipeg from New Delhi at the age of 14.

In her video, Prasad talks about cultural adornments for women, especially married women, in India — the bindi, the sindoor and the mangala sutra.

The bindi, or a sticker that's placed between the woman's eyebrows, represents the soul within or the third eye, Prasad said.

Although many married women wear it, Prasad said some single women do as well.

"She might wear it because she wants to represent her marital status or her husband or she might just wear it because she likes wearing it. Regardless of it, I think ... the central theme here should be choice and all her choices should be respected," Prasad said on CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show on Saturday.

The sindoor is a line of red powder that's drawn at the top of a woman's forehead vertically toward her eyes and is meant to represent the divinity within women. It also signals that a woman is not approachable because she's married, Prasad said in her video.

The mangala sutra is one of the most important symbols for married women, Prasad said. It's a necklace made out of black beads, which ward against bad energy, with a gold pendant that represents Devi, or the Sanskrit word for goddess, which is thought to be in every married woman.

It's meant to solidify the marital commitment and the promises they make, Prasad said.

Prasad's video is one of more than 20 that share different facets of Manitoba's many cultural groups including Brazilian history, the Liberian drum and Pakistani culture.

Ethno Fest 2021 began Aug. 16 and runs until the end of September. All the videos are free to access on U Multicultural Channel's YouTube page or on its website.

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