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Centennial CVI celebrates Ramadan, Vaisakhi and Puthandu

April 17, 2023

GUELPH, ON — Earlier this month, approximately 40 students primarily from Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institutes’s (CCVI) Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) gathered for Iftar dinner at school.

Two weeks into April and students at CCVI have been working hard to share their culture and festivals with the school community.  This month, which is Sikh Heritage Month and coincides with Ramadan, CCVI had its first ever Ramadan Iftaar Dinner as well as a celebration for the festivals of Vaisakhi & Puthandu.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and then gather at sunset to eat a meal after a day of fasting – this meal is called Iftar.  CCVI’s MSA students organized the school’s first ever Iftar dinner.  Students dressed up in their cultural clothing and brought food for a pot-luck style dinner at school.

The students participated in traditions associated with breaking their fast and enjoyed the Iftar meal together while socializing and taking photos.  Students worked hard to decorate the space and prepare a variety of dishes for dinner including biryani, mantu, channa chaat, pulao, pakoras and samosas.  It was a great event that the MSA students and their teacher supervisor, Andrew Wyche, worked hard to organize and execute.  

A week after the Iftar dinner, CCVI’s front foyer was decorated for a combined Vaisakhi & Puthandu celebration at lunch, organized and executed by CCVI’s Desi Club & Sikh Association.  Vaisakhi is a Spring harvest festival celebrated by Sikhs & Hindus in Northern India, and Puthandu marks the first day of the Tamil New Year, celebrated by Tamil Hindus. 

Celebrations included food sales of samosa, pakoras, masala chai & spring rolls, a mehndi (henna tattoo) table, a “Turban Up” table and a photo booth for students.  Some snacks were purchased from a local restaurant, Bollywood Bistro, and the rest were donated by Guelph Sikh Society. 

There was much excitement and long lines for the food, mehndi and the Turban  Up activity, where elders from Guelph Sikh Society tied turbans on many students who wanted to learn about and appreciate Sikh culture.  Students wore turbans and colorful dupattas (scarves) and posed for photos at the photo booth.  

Vice-Principals Albert Boutin and Lindsay Baumgartner commented on the heart-warming dynamic of seeing young non-Sikh students meeting Sikh elders and chatting with them while having a turban tied and then posing for photos with them.  This was a lovely showcase of cultural appreciation and celebrations. 

Desi Club teacher supervisors, Shailja Pandey & Laura Linton, were delighted with the student and staff support and excited to report that “from our snacks & mehndi sales, we have raised over $650 to donate to the Red Cross Earthquake Relief Efforts for Turkiye & Syria!”  They were also so proud of the Desi Club student volunteers who worked hard to advertise and make this event happen. 

The students wrote & said announcements throughout the week, created social media posts, painted posters, worked at the mehndi (henna) booth all week and ran the food sales on Friday.  Students also dressed up in their cultural clothes for the Friday event and enjoyed sharing their culture with the CCVI school community.

There are more cultural events planned at CCVI with Eid coming up next week and Culture Day being planned by CCVI’s Multicultural Club in conjunction with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) Club, Desi Club, MSA and other student affinity groups.   All profits from all these events will be combined and donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Relief Efforts for Turkey & Syria.


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