“Rhythms of Asia”- Celebration to Honor Asian Cultures At Westview Centennial Secondary School

The air was humming with excitement, the walls of the school cafeteria were reverberating with the sound of the wild beat of the drums, and the eyes were savouring the architectural heritage of the times long past, of the sculptural glory of Asian artists on the power-point presentation.The festival was a bonanza for the finer sensibilities as the music, melody and the costumes brought to life, the living energy of the various dances of India, China, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Trinidad, Guyana and Sri Lanka among others, in all their radiance, magnificence and glory. The Asian Heritage month reached its crescendo on the 25th of May 2011 at Westview Centennial Secondary School when a microcosmic glimpse of this rich cultural heritage was presented to the students and the staff of the school and the guests.The gala commenced with the Diya ceremony, symbolizing the Indian tradition of invoking gods for their blessings before starting an event. It was followed by the singing of the Karen National Anthem by Karen students while cultural images played in the background. It was a heart-wrenching melody of the pain suffered by the Karen under the Burmese oppression and the undying hope of attaining independence one day.It was followed by the tinsel and glamour and radiant colours of the Afghani dance. It so excited the gathering that one of the students from the audience stole the show when he jumped up on the stage and started performing his own solo beside the dancers. He received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.The Karen students then presented the Bamboo dance, where the dancers adorned in attractive native costume, skillfully and gracefully hopped on a cris-cross play of bamboo sticks to a smooth melody. This slow-paced and peaceful dance was followed by a high-pitched, high-energy Chutney dance which is similar to a belly dance. The legend goes that the dance movements imitate the rippling and the agonizing rhythmic movements of women in childbirth.Next item was the Bollywood Medley -- a dance which has become a sensation around the world! It was a dance full of vibrant energy with rhythmic elements of Bollywood, jazz and hip-hop. This was followed by an all time favourite, classical dance of India – the Bharatnatyam. The dancers with the rhythmic movements of hands and feet, facial gestures and intricate poses told a story in dramatic form. It is stated that it is a highly skilled art form which takes years to master.No show is complete without a Fashion Show. It is here where the models paraded, ever so gracefully and elegantly, flashing the hot styles in Asian fashions in rich textures and elegant designs.The Lion Dance was a complete break from the previous performances as here the dances moved ever so deftly to portray the lithe movements of the lion, dancing in snake-like slithering movements. The accompanying music was hauntingly played on the side which lent a majestic aura to the dance.If ever there was a dance so full of volcanic energy, it was the famous Bangra Dance of Punjab, India. The auditorium was charged with tangible energy with the bodies in the audience, swaying to the rhythm and the maddening drum-beat of Bhangra. It was that one moment where the school was ONE SOUL, ONE BODY, and ONE SPIRIT -- all celebrating life in all its glory.To cap the event, the teachers came up with a surprise dance performance which was received by whistles and shouts, and a stream of students joined the staff at this moment of euphoric celebration.The central theme of the event was the “Celebration of Diversity” of a nation which has always cherished its reputation as a “cultural mosaic”. The last tribute goes to the Westview students who show-cased artistic virtuosity to the delight of the entire audience.The guest speaker Mrs. Harleen Garewal- Solicitor and Barrister, a delightful personality, reinforced the value of education as a future investment for the students. She enthused the students with her friendly banter. She was so impressed with the talent and the diversity of Westview that she announced scholarship of $2000 to be distributed among the most talented and artistic students of Asian Heritage.The afternoon assembly speaker again was a solicitor and barrister Mr. Somboun Tsai, who inspired the students by showing how he, as an E.S.L. student in this country, rose up to become a successful lawyer, stressing the idea that if one is committed one can materialize his/her dreams.All this could not have been possible without the full personal and financial support of Westview Principal Mr. Patrick Knight.In the end it was a sensational performance by Westview students due to the strong collaborated efforts of students and staff supervisors, under the guidance and leadership of Vice Principal Mrs. Neena Mukhi.