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Diwali festival taking an entrepreneurial turn

india Updated: Oct 16, 2013 12:48 IST
British Columbia

Vancouver businesses and entrepreneurs are giving the spirit of Diwali a "modern twist" this year.

For the first time, the B.C. chapter of the Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC), a not-for-profit trade association linking Canada and India, will be bringing its Grand Diwali Gala - which has taken place in Toronto for the past 11 years - to Vancouver's Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel on October 25, in partnerships with TiE Vancouver, a local not-for-profit supporting entrepreneurship.

With 200 people already expected in attendance - from local businesses like KPMG, Miller Thomson LLP and even an Indian business like Mumbai's DairyLand - it will be an evening of networking, food and entertainment.

Diwali, often referred to as the festival of light, celebrates the victory of good over evil, lightness over darkness, prosperity over poverty. The primary goddess worshipped is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity - which couldn't be more fitting for the upcoming networking event, according to TiE Vancouver executive director, Swati Kumar.

"A lot of businessmen in India are worshipping her for wealth generally and for her blessing," she said. "We're connecting that to entrepreneurship and success."

"Diwali seems to be the perfect time that we could sort of give it a modern twist and provide a networking event."

Douglas Nazareth, on the board of governors for B.C.'s C-IBC, has been waiting to bring the gala to Vancouver for many years now.

"Diwali is the single most recognised festival of the Indian festivals," said Nazareth. "It is celebrated in a big way in India, so we thought we'd celebrate it here and bring the business community together here, so they can network and meet and form alliances."

The event is aimed to promote India as a potential market and trading partner for B.C.

According to Nazareth, most of Canada's trade with the US has tapered off and by the 80s the country focused on trade with China, but since India opened its doors to international trade, Nazareth believes it's a great opportunity for the province.

"India and China are the two obvious places for businesses to grow," he said. "Advantages (in India) are obviously the huge population - (many of) which are middle class and they have a very high purchasing power, so there is a huge market for just about everything."

Kumar, who immigrated from India six years ago, agreed.

"There's always, always room to have more Canadian investment in India because of its growing economy," she said. "This is going to be a great networking opportunity."

Vancouver's first-ever Grand Diwali Gala will kick off at 6 pm October 25 at the Marriott Hotel at 1128 West Hastings St. The evening will include prominent speakers from B.C. government including Minister of International Trade, Teresa Wat. And of course the night will be bursting with Indian culture with authentic cuisine and Indian classical dance performances, as well as a special Goa folk dance performance.

Many other Diwali events are taking place across the Lower Mainland as well, including Richmond's Diwali Festivities on November 9 at the Richmond Cultural Centre and Vancouver's annual Diwali Fest (formerly known as Vancouver Celebrates Diwali), which runs in both Vancouver and Surrey October 29 to November 8.