Millions of people will soon be lighting candles and fireworks, decorating their houses with colourful art, and preparing traditional Indian fare as they celebrate Diwali.
The four- to five-day-long festival of lights, which will take place on October 27 this year, is a celebration of togetherness, and a reminder to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists that hope can be found even in the darkest of situations.
Last Friday, South Island School went all out to celebrate the festival, with delicious Indian food and vibrant performances. Following the theme “Bollywood Rewind”, the students, teachers and parents involved worked to recreate the India of the early 2000s.
On the day of the event, Young Post spoke to two Year Nine student dancers Riya Girish and Anusha Oak, both 13, who performed in multiple numbers in the show that took place in the school hall.
“It’s a really fun time of the year. We get to do something we love, with a purpose,” said Riya, referring to the fact that the event helped to raise funds for World Vision India, a charity that supports underprivileged children in the country.
“For me, it’s also an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do something new,” added Anusha.
As colourful lights filled the stage, the night kicked off with a performance by the team that organised the event. Five students – four girls and one boy – dressed in traditional Indian costumes danced along to the Bollywood song Bachna ae Haseeno.
During the intermission, proud parents seized the opportunity to take pictures of their children on stage. A photo booth was also set up where guests could take selfies with cut-outs of Indian stars such as Priyanka Chopra and Hrithik Roshan.
Another highlight was when a group of students performed traditional Bollywood dances with a modern twist. Riya and three of her peers performed an Indian dance battle piece in harem pants and a modern top. She explained that their costume combined Indian culture with a bit of Indo-western style.
“Initially, we thought of wearing lehenga, which is a type of Indian skirt, but we wanted to be able to show the leg movements of our dance,” she said.
Riya added that the fact it would’ve been harder to dance in lehenga than in harem pants led to the final costume decision.
After seeing how captivated the audience was by the students’ stunning choreography and talent, the student organisers knew their event had been a success.
“It was a day that meant so much to both the Indian and the wider community,” said Shaurya Gupta, 17, one of the event organisers and a veteran performer.
“All the acts were amazing,” added Riya, “and it was simply the best night of my life!”
Still, Anusha and Riya admitted the showcase was not easy to pull off, saying the preparation behind it was quite stressful as there were some last-minute changes that had to be made.
“We changed some dance steps just before the event, and the pressure we put on ourselves to do well made everything a little scary,” said Anusha.
Riya agreed, saying “there were a lot of nerves.
“But I think it could be a good sign. It means we were doing something that was important to us,” she added.