In a first, players from a major North American sports franchise donned Diwali-themed jerseys designed by an Indo-Canadian artist.
The commemorative jerseys were commissioned by the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL) from artist Jagandeep ‘Jag’ Nagra, who is based in the town of Pitt Meadows in British Columbia. They were worn during warmups prior to their game against the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
Nagra was elated at Diwali being marked at such a platform, as she said the “atmosphere (at the arena) was amazing”.
The jerseys could not be worn during the game itself due to NHL rules for standard uniforms. But an auction following the game, saw one being snapped up for as much as almost 5,000 Canadian dollars ( ₹3 lakh).
And the initiative captured eyeballs worldwide. Reacting to a report, actor-director Seth Rogen tweeted, “Will trade a vase for one of these!” and exchange direct messages with Nagra on Twitter. As it was later featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter, singer-songwriter Nick Jonas tweeted, “So cool.”
Cabinet minister Harjit Sajjan also thanked Nagra.
Nagra, who was born in Surrey in BC, and has roots in the Jalandhar area in Punjab, was thrilled as she watched her design on the rink: “Honestly, I was holding back tears the whole time. This was the biggest sense of pride I had felt. It was really an amazing moment,” she told the Hindustan Times.
For the design of the crests for the jerseys, Nagra used motifs associated with Diwali, like mustard oil, often used for traditional lamps, as well as diyas, a lotus, and stars, to create a sense of twinkling lights at dusk. And, of course, an ice hockey stick. In a release, the team said the design for these custom-made jerseys “honours elements of both Diwali and the Vancouver Canucks brand”.
As she said, “I wanted to include icons that to me represented Diwali.”
They also featured Diwali-coloured name bars in Hindi and Punjabi.
Of course, the jerseys matched the occasion as this was also the fifth ‘Diwali night’ being celebrated by the Vancouver Canucks.
The team may have lost the game on Friday night, but the project came out a winner, with partial proceeds from the sale of the jerseys going towards rejuvenation of the iconic Punjabi Market in Vancouver, which is over 50-years-old, but has become run down in recent years. That pleased Nagra even more as she also serves as the creative director of the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective.