'Super great' Navratri celebration brings together people of all nationalities
'We are trying to build up the community'
The Indian festival Navratri brought more than 400 people to Stratford Town Hall Saturday and was hugely successful, organizers say.
After Diwali, Navratri is the second-largest annual festival for many Indian people, especially for those from the country's state of Gujarat.
"It was super great, people were so excited and happy," said Komal Patel, who with her husband helped organize the third annual festival in P.E.I. "We spent lots of time in the decoration and everything — typical Indian decoration."
Patel was excited to see several local Islanders attend the festival as well as people originally from the Phillipines and China.
Some local women even called asking for help tying traditional saris for the event, she said.
'A good get-together'
There were Hindu prayers, offerings and some Indian food at the gathering, but mostly, Navratri is all about dancing — particularly a traditional dance called garba.
Patel said the Indian population has exploded on P.E.I. in the past few years, estimating there are about 500 Indians living in the Charlottetown area and a substantial number of Punjabi Indians in Summerside, some of whom came to the Navratri festival.
"They also came down to be part of the festival," said Patel. "And they didn't know how to do the garba — and still they tried their best." Organizers added Punjabi music to the playlist for those guests, she added.
Patel said she and her husband have lived on P.E.I. for three years, and lived in Ontario for four years before that. They are now permanent Canadian residents.
"We love the Island, we love the community. People are helping," Patel said. "We are trying to build up the community.
"We will try to arrange more and more festivals like that so local people can get engaged with the other immigrant community as well — kind of a good get-together for everyone to know different community, different festival, everyone's culture."
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With files from Travis Kingdon