Hong Kong’s South Asian community is large and long-established, but its rich and diverse cultures are rarely celebrated in our city. Young Post’s junior reporters had the chance to learn more about one of these cultures at the Gujarati Cultural Evening at the Y Theatre in Chai Wan on May 13.
Gujarati culture originates from Gujarat, a state in the western region of India that shares a border with Pakistan. The area is famous for its dances and theatre, both of which we were able to experience during the student-led event.
The evening began with a series of dance performances by primary and secondary school students. Some of the dances carried inspirational messages, while others simply showed off the beauty of Gujarati culture.
One of the performances used dance to draw attention to the dangers of air pollution.
“[Air pollution] is the reason people in the world face diseases like lung cancer,” explained one of the dancers, 11-year-old Dhyana Shah from Kowloon Junior School. “I feel like there is a need to stop this because people can get really serious illnesses.”
Another dance focused on a common dilemma among Hong Kong teens: study or sports? Aariya Jhaveri, 14, from Renaissance College, told Young Post that Hong Kong students are often pressured to study as much as possible, but she believes that staying active is just as important.
Aariya was especially proud to be able to share her message while also celebrating her heritage.
“When you’re a minority, cultures tend to die out,” she said. “It’s really important to keep your culture alive … it’s all about having the belief and the willingness to do something to uphold your traditions”
One particularly patriotic dance paid tribute to the soldiers who safeguard Gujarat’s border with Pakistan. The dance itself was set at the border, and the dancers dressed up as members of the Indian army.
Taking a more unconventional route, another dance paid homage to pop star Michael Jackson, but with a Gujarati twist. The dance combined several of Jackson’s hits with Gujarati dance moves, while the dancers wore military-style jackets like those favoured by the singer.
After an intermission, during which we were able to sample array of tasty South Asian snacks that really felt more like a whole meal, it was time for the theatre drama to begin.
Gujarati theatre has a long esteemed history. With roots in traditional folk mythology, it began as entertainment-driven art form, but later evolved to focus on social issues and reform.
The play we watched, however, took a slightly different route. It was a thrilling murder mystery, with a highly naturalistic style of acting. The suspense kept viewers on the edges of their seat.
The evening was a vibrant celebration of student talent and cultural diversity, and an experience we won’t easily forget.