SIMON Fraser University hosted its 10th annual Diwali Gala at Surrey’s Aria Banquet Hall on Tuesday (October 17). The event is held annually to celebrate the festival of Diwali along with the University’s initiatives in India and engagement with B.C.’s South Asian diaspora.
This year’s event, marking a decade of celebrations, drew one of its largest gatherings—more than 350 business and community leaders joined SFU students, faculty, staff and alumni at this year’s event, which opened with a street-fair style reception and featured South Asian cuisine and performances by the Mohamed Assani Trio and Shiamak Dance Team of Vancouver.
In his welcoming address SFU President Andrew Petter told the gathering that over the past 10 years, the event has raised more than $180,000 to support SFU’s India Student Mobility Award fund, helping more than 140 SFU students travel between B.C. and India.
Petter also thanked past and present members of the SFU-India Advisory Council for “donating their time and energy” to provide guidance to SFU on its India Strategy. The council was established a decade ago and has been integral to the University’s success in engaging with India, and in furthering relationships within B.C.’s South Asian community.
He also noted that over the past decade, more than 1,500 visa students from India have undertaken undergraduate and graduate studies at SFU, adding that SFU’s student population from India is now the fastest growing of all countries in the world.
Daivik Mehta, a PhD student from India, shared his experiences as a one of the first graduate students accepted into the SFU-Indian Oil PhD program. The program was created in 2014 when SFU and Indian Oil signed an agreement to further fuel and cell technology research. Mehta is in his third year as a PhD student in SFU’s School of Mechatronic Engineering.
Meanwhile Christine Lukac, who is among students who’ve benefitted from SFU’s India Mobility Initiative, sent thanks to the gathering for the event’s support over the years for volunteer student projects created through Destiny Reflection, a venture established in India to help empower women and girls.
Emceed by Wally Oppal, former B.C. Attorney-General and co-chair of the SFU-India Advisory Council, the gala benefited this year from many sponsors.
The VOICE was a media sponsor.