Community event shares cultural diversity

Community event shares cultural diversity

The Alexandra South Asian Cultural Festival put a spotlight on the diversity of cultures found in isolated communities.

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Alexandra Community Centre hosted a gathering of locals who have connections to South Asian countries on Saturday to celebrate and show their appreciation for the diversity in the community.

The event was hosted by Arasan NZ Trust, in partnership with Welcoming Communities, and the Central Otago Regional Council. It featured performances, food, and fashion shows.

Carthika Luxmanan, Arasan NZ Trust event organizer, said that the day was about exposing Alexandra residents and South Asian cultures.

“I think it’s safe to say it’s the very first time something like this has happened. It’s exciting to see all the culture being exposed … and to have a really vibrant event,”Ms Luxmanan said.

They were interested in making it an annual event.

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“This is the first of many events to hopefully come. From the feedback so far, everyone’s very excited and looking forward to participating … So it’s an opportunity for us to integrate with the local community and [learn] from each other, promoting diversity, understanding and friendship,”Ms Luxmanan said.

Dr Lux Selvanesan, a Dunedin-based researcher in cancer, helped organize the South Island event.

He said that they had decided to invite local schools and have them participate in the day via a poster competition.

“It was for any school kids, as individuals or as a team, to then research and create a poster of any South Asian culture [or cultures],”He said.

After students submitted their posters, a panel from Arasan NZ Trust selected the first, second, and third place posters.

“We put the message out there and all the posters seen on the walls [at the event] are from school kids that designed them. The wonderful thing was these youth really took initiative to go and research about these cultures and countries, and to create beautiful posters,” Mr Selvanesan said.

Max Smith and Charlotte Taylor, both 9-year-olds at Dunstan High School, were among the posters submitted.

Charlotte claimed that Nepal was her first attraction.

“But then I found out about this train in Sri Lanka and thought it was really cool and changed my poster to that,” Charlotte said.

Max chose Bangladesh and designed a simple layout.

“The middle of it, where the red circle [is] meant to be, symbolises the river delta because they have the largest river delta in the world. They’re also known for large mountains and roaming tigers,”Max said.

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