Divali Nagar Winners Celebrate Traditional Culture
TSTT Corporate Communications
Cultural classics enjoyed the spotlight at this year's return of the Divali Nagar with the help of bmobile. The first physical iteration of the long-celebrated festival in the post-pandemic era saw a dazzling array of talent that paid tribute to the classical side of East Indian culture. Much of that elevation of the classics came from younger performers and artistes.
Local communications solutions provider and dedicated cultural supporter, bmobile, awarded one-year mobile and data packages to the Divali Nagar 2022 Youth Champ and Dance competitions winners. The company has been a long-time contributor to the annual festival. Khamal Georges, Senior Manager - Corporate, Environmental, Social & Reputation Management for TSTT was happy to see the festival return to its home after being held virtually due to pandemic restrictions. “The style, elegance, grace and high level of participation in these competitions are matched only by the familial atmosphere at Divali Nagar. It is the healthiest form of completion, and this year we were also pleased to see that the calibre of competition was on par with the celebration of traditional East Indian song and dance, proudly elevated by the younger generation,” he stated.
The 2022 Youth Champ winner, Victoria Maharaj, was shocked to hear that she was selected as the best overall performer in the category. The twenty-two-year-old, currently reading for a BSc in Financial Management at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, was also recently awarded an open scholarship from the University. She is also a trainee at a Hindu School but has stated that music will be part of her career in the long-term. “I love to sing, especially at the temple - that is what I love the most. But I entered Mastana Bahar (competition) and won and from there thought that I could make music a part of my career too,” she notes. “The challenge for me in the industry here though, is that I love singing Classical Indian music - which has become under-appreciated in T&T compared to Bollywood songs, Chutney and other forms of music,” she highlights.
Recognising this, Victoria is best known for her iteration of the traditional song Om Namah Shivay. She puts her own spin and verses into the classic - much to the crowd's appreciation. The talented performer credits her mother and teachers for their encouragement. “I wasn’t expecting to win at all, I was quite happy with performing and being here as one big family backstage with all the other performers.” She also notes that the one-year voice and data package, among the other prizes awarded, would benefit her studies. “My programme is entirely online, so using reliable data would be very useful to me in pursuing my degree.”
The second winner of the week’s festivities was Priya Persad, a Kathak dancer who also plays the harmonium and sitar among other instruments and enjoys the classical forms of the culture. “Many people gravitate to Bollywood styles of dance now and that is fine, but I want to bring the classical forms of dance like Kathak back to a wider audience in the Caribbean and internationally. The art itself, the way the dance is done, the movement, the music, it brings a mood and captures the audience’s attention in a way that is unique,” she details. Kathak originated within Hindu temples as a storytelling device for portraying epic tales from Hindu scriptures. Persad is also an auditor with PwC and was grateful for, among other prizes, the one-year bmobile package. “As an auditor, having access to fast and reliable data on the road, while working with clients off-site is very valuable and appreciated,” she adds.
The annual Divali Nagar featured nine days of a bustling marketplace of local artisans and artists alongside nightly displays of culture and competition. Thousands of visitors enjoyed the varied aspects of the festival, including the bmobile booth, which saw lively, family-friendly games, promotions and complementary henna body art in keeping with the company’s continued support of all aspects of T&T’s many cultural facets.