For the first time in Prince Albert, the city’s East Indian diaspora hosted a cultural celebration on Sunday night at Plaza 88.
The Diwali Mela Prince Albert brought a large crowd out to celebrate culture with performances by Indian singers Kulwnat Sekhon, Gurpreet Maan and Bunny Johal.
Hargun Singh and Paramveer Singh run Niwaz Entertainment and wanted to celebrate the growing East Indian community with Diwali Mela, the Hindu festival of lights.
“That’s a big Indian festival we’re celebrating here, the first time East Indian Festival is celebrating in Prince Albert,” Hargun said.
“We want our community to be together.”
Having an artist from India come to Prince Albert to perform was important. According to Paramveer nearly 500 people turned out for the event, which ran late into the evening. Organizers were expecting 350 to 400 prior to the show.
Hargun said Prince Albert’s East Indian community is growing quickly, with international student arrivals being the biggest factor.
“We have SaskPolytech here, so in this session nearly about 600 new immigrant students came here,” Hargun explained. “That’s why we’re just organizing these kind of events, so they have some kind of support like that as well.”
Paramveer said that if they got a good response they would definitely put on more events in the future.
“This is this the first time in history that any Indian artist came to Prince Albert. We want to make Prince Albert more famous, in a better way,” Hargun said.
Johal released a new song “Dhundle Dhundle” on YouTube on Oct. 13 and it had 2.2 million views as of Monday. They were able to get such a prominent artist because Hargun knows him personally.
Those in attendance were happy to have a cultural celebration.
Chenbreet Singh said that it was great to have a musical celebration. His brother Sukhdeep Singh said that it was a great thing for the community.
“I have been here from last two years and nothing like this ever happened,” Chenbreet said.
“Every time there is something we have to go to Saskatoon,” Sukhdeep added.
The two brothers would welcome more events like this in Prince Albert, especially since it would be cheaper than travelling. It would also help foster community.
“(For the) people living here, it’s a better time to get together,” Suhkeep said.
When he first arrived in Prince Albert, Suhkeep said there were few East Indian people in the city. That changed when the airways reopened following the COVID shutdown, and people began travelling from Prince Albert to India again.
“You are seeing it tonight,” Chenbreet said.
The event was sponsored by many businesses from both Saskatoon and Prince Albert. Paramveer said that their support may provide a big boost in other areas.
“We will have more businesses to come to Prince Albert because many people who are here, they live in Saskatoon,” he explained. “Many big businesses came here just to see about Prince Albert and how it is going. They are going to the see the community is going (well) and they will open more business and it will grow the Prince Albert community.”
Diwali, or ‘the festival of lights’ is the largest and most important holiday of the year for Hindus, but it is also recognized in other religions like Buddhism or Sikhism. The five-day celebration includes food, fireworks, coloured sand, special candles, and lamps.