The Norfolk Sports Cultural Events held a “Multicultural Diwali Festival” organized by the Fijian Indian community at the Hayward High School on August 22nd, with more than 500 people of all communities attending the event. The grounds of the school featured an array of food stalls, clothing boutiques and even a Henna artist who was very popular with the younger crowd.
To keep the children entertained, there was a bouncing castle, while for the grown-ups, the center stage was alive with music performed by local bands and audience members alike. A local band, Melody Makers Band, enthralled the audience with old and new Bollywood hits; Radhika Tilak, a dancer from Sacramento, was invited to perform, as was local comedian and singer Hemkumar Joshi.
Pamela Singh, one of the organizers and emcee of the festival, told India-West this was the third year Norfolk Sports Cultural Events held the festival. “It’s a kick-off to Diwali,” she said. “The Fiji and Indian communities should support each other. This is a cross community event.” The event will also help to support the local Fiji soccer team, which will be traveling to Vancouver to compete in a soccer tournament.
Naveen Maharaj, who has been playing for the local Fiji soccer team for the past 25 years, toldIndia-West, “Very excited, very challenging and very eager to play the other veteran teams of Vancouver,” adding that such events promote togetherness in the community.
Master Salesh, vice president of Norfolk Sports Cultural Events, spoke of the activities the organization is involved in to promote community spirit and their efforts to help the new generation connect to their culture. Hayward councilman Francesco Zermeno, Norfolk Sports Cultural Events president Aten Singh and attorney Ashwani Bhakhri, a major sponsor of the event, were among those called on stage and honored with garlands and plaques for their contributions to the Fiji community.
Zermeno talked about the importance of diversity, the commonality of the immigrant experience and of being proud of one’s culture. “Hayward is the third most diverse city in the whole of the United States. And you are a part of that richness,” he told the audience. He talked about working for community, youth and culture, and ended by stating, “You and I are brothers.”
Zermeno said the event was his first time participating, and he was glad to “celebrate diversity in the community.” Bhakhri told the media that he was happy to support the event and hoped it keeps getting bigger with every passing year.
The Hayward Law Enforcement Department and the Fire Department were also honored for the job they do in keeping the community safe. The audience later were treated to multicultural dance performances by performers like 6-year-old Sebastian, who sang and danced to the latest chartbusters. Manpreet and Avinasha, from the Rang De Basanti Dance Studio, danced to a medley of Bollywood songs, and there were also dances from the West Indies and Thailand.