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… and Garba too! It’s the Swan Festival of Lights
The annual Swan Festival of Lights to celebrate Deepavali was held at the Supreme Court Gardens in Perth over the weekend of 6-8 November. The event attracted a multitude of people from all walks of life. They were treated to many multicultural dance and music performances, great food, camel rides and free workshops.
An abridged contemporary version of the timeless Ramayana was presented in dance drama form by the Temple of Fine Arts. An open air Garba dance (mentioned as Perth’s biggest outdoor Garba) was held in the evening which people enjoyed immensely. Various workshops highlighting Indian art and culture were held during the event. There were fireworks every evening of the event capping off the entertainment.
Sukhi Krishnan, Festival Artistic Director at the Temple of Fine Arts, says, “We decided we would feature one state each year as a ‘host state’. This year we featured Gujarat and invited the Gujarati community to be part of the festival.”
The Gujarati theme resonated through the event in the décor, the attire worn by the staff, the parade in traditional attire and the “Garba under the Stars” open air dance.
A new element this year was the idea of showing the interconnectedness of humanity. This idea was represented by the “Tree of Light and Life” in the festival. In Sukhi Krishnan’s words “(When we) light a candle, the light of which represents our individuality, and place it under the Tree of Light and Life, we do so with an understanding that we are all sparks of a humanity that wants peace and understanding. It is this unity of love of light that is celebrated in Deepavali.”
A major satisfaction for her was the flow of the program ending with the Ramayana each evening. Despite the challenges of performing the Ramayana outdoors, “without the technical support of an indoor auditorium”, audiences were left enthralled.
The only aspect which detracted somewhat from the fun of the evening were the long, snaking queues at the food stalls. There was one queue to buy the “food coupons” and other queues to get the food from the various stalls. Spending up to an hour in these queues meant less time to enjoy the amazing performances. Perhaps the organisers will come up with new ideas next year to manage this better.
Sukhi believes the only constraint for the event is funding and manpower, and there is no dearth of innovative ideas for the festival in the years to come.
The Swan Festival of Lights is an annual mega event in Perth bringing Deepavali celebrations to the mainstream with support from City of Perth, Lottery West and many others.