Guadeloupe candidate Juliana Carène wins International Ambassador of Diwali 2023 contest

Contest to select Ambassador of Indian culture in diaspora: GOPIO Guadeloupe



November 29, 2023

/ By / Guadeloupe, France

Guadeloupe candidate Juliana Carène wins International Ambassador of Diwali 2023 contest

The contest for International Ambassador of Diwali 2023 is aimed at promoting Indian culture

In a close contest between 10 candidates from around the world, Juliana Carène of Guadeloupe edged out rivals to bag the title of International Ambassador of Diwali 2023. The contest, held recently in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe, was organised on the occasion of Diwali, by GOPIO Guadeloupe, representing the Indian diaspora on the island.

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Nineteen-year-old Juliana Carène, a resident of Guadeloupe, has bagged the title of the International Ambassador of Diwali 2023 in one of the tightest ever contests seen in this annual event organised by diaspora organisation GOPIO Guadeloupe, in Guadeloupe, a French territory in the Caribbean.

Carène overcame stiff competition from nine other contestants, hailing from countries ranging from neighbours like Trinidad & Tobago and Suirname to those as far away as Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

“I am truly honoured to have been selected as the International Ambassador of Diwali at this contest here today. To me, Diwali represents above all a sense of sharing, respect and spreading light of happiness and cheer all over the world. It has a very strong social message attached to it and that’s what I intend to create awareness about,’’ Carène tells Media India Group.

Even though Carène is not a Person of Indian Origin, unlike contestants in the competition, she says that she had been attracted towards Indian culture right from her childhood. ”I did not choose it, I was simply pulled towards it. So, I began by learning the Indian languages and then as I grew up, I began practicing Bharat Natyam as well. I have performed at many social events here in Guadeloupe and now as the Ambassador I have a moral obligation to spread this beautiful culture to others as well. A role that I intend taking up very seriously,’’ she says.

Alongside Carène, two other winners of the evening also hailed from the Caribbean region. Evita Yashoda Persad, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Trinidad and Tobago, bagged the second prize and was chosen as 1st Consul of Diwali. 

Persad says she has been performing classical dances for almost two decades and that her career goal is to study either forensic science or medicine and that she wants to travel around the world. 

The third prize went to Shanon Chotoe, a 21-year-old from Suriname, not far from Trinidad & Tobago. Chotoe, who chosen as ‘2nd Consul of Diwali’ says she is currently taking flying lessons to become a commercial pilot. She says when she is not learning how to fly, then she is either practicing Bharat Natyam or taking care of animals.

According to Michel Narayaninssamy, President of the Guadeloupe chapter of the Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (GOPIO), the contest is held every year to select the International Ambassador of Indian culture amongst the diaspora around the world.

The candidates were judged on various parameters as the contest involved their dressing up in Indian clothes, a performance of Indian classical dance,  as well as a speech on the theme for this year ‘Respect and Life in a Society’.On the basis of the candidatures received, Narayaninssamy says that a total of 11 candidates were selected, though one of them, from Malaysia, could not finally make it to Guadeloupe for some personal reasons.

Narayaninssamy says that the contest was conceived as an ideal platform to celebrate Indian culture and to ensure that it remained vibrant and active in the countries which are thousands of km away from India, but are home to large communities of Indian diaspora, especially those who migrated from India over 200 years ago.

“We began with very small team and our idea was there was hardly any better occasion to unite the community and spread Indian culture than Diwali, which is celebrated all over the world and which is truly representative of the Indian culture,’’ Narayaninssamy tells Media India Group.

“We started on a small scale, with only 3 candidates in our first edition. Since then, we have progressed each time, expanding our reach and as you have seen it, we had 10 candidates this year,’’ Narayaninssamy adds.

He has already begun planning the next year’s edition, which he says will have a much stronger representation from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. “We are planning on getting candidates from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa and Dubai in 2024 and we have already begun to work towards that,’’ he says.

He says that the International Ambassador is expected to propagate the Indian culture, through Diwali, and to help Indian diaspora, especially the youth, to reconnect with the Indian culture. “This is why we put so much emphasis on Indian costumes and Indian classical dances,’’ he adds.

Also present on the occasion was Karishma Boodram from Trinidad and Tobago who had won the competition for International Ambassador 2022 and had been invited to hand over her crown to the winner of this year’s contest.

Boodram said that the competition in the previous year too was very stiff and she had not expected to win. “Apparently my family was not shocked and everyone else was not either. But I was shocked to have won the title. It was a wonderful experience. I really wish that I could have represented Guadaloupe more throughout the year, but I did indeed represent it in Trinidad and Tobago during my reign,’’ Boodram told Media India Group.

In Trinidad and Tobago, we have different Diwali functions and youth functions. So, I was invited to speak at these functions as the International Ambassador and it was an occasion use my title to encourage other women, especially young girls, to let them pursue their dreams and let them do things out of the norm,’’ Boodram added.

Juliana Carène

Juliana Carène

Juliana Carène, 19, Guadeloupe

Ambassador International of Diwali, 2023

With diploma as a healthcare worker and about to enter the job market, Carène has been passionate about social work, besides dances from various cultures. She has been focussing on the Indian classical dance.


Karishma Boodram

Karishma Boodram

Karishma Boodram, 25, Trinidad and Tobago

International Ambassador of Diwali 2022

A science graduate, turned entrepreneur, Karishma Boodram is a professional dancer, with about 18 years of training in Indian Classical and folk dance. She is currently in pursuit of launching her very own business, an international digital marketing agency.


Evita Yashoda Persad

Evita Yashoda Persad

Evita Yashoda Persad, 24, Trinidad and Tobago

1st Consul of Diwali 2023

A science graduate-turned-entrepreneur, Persad has recently started a small business together with her family. She has been dancing for over 2 decades and has a passion for playing the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, the Steel-pan. Her goal is to have a career in forensic science or medicine and to travel the world.


Shannon Chotoe

Shannon Chotoe

Shannon Chotoe, 21, Suriname

2nd Consul of Diwali 2023

A student of aviation, with objective to become a commercial pilot, Chotoe, is a Bharat Natyam dancer, saxophonist and animal lover. 


Sindu Harripersaud

Sindu Harripersaud

Sindu Harripersaud, 25, New York, United States of America

A determined and compassionate person of Indo-Guyanese origin, Harripersaud arrived in the United States at the age of 4 and has been involved with various charitable organisations right since her childhood, notably through the Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation, dedicating herself to various charitable initiatives that catered to individuals across all age groups.


Arpita Banerjee

Arpita Banerjee

Arpita Banerjee, 25, Poland

Originally from Kolkata and currently living in Warsaw in Poland, Banerjee is a professional Bharatanatyam artist, who has performed not only in Poland and India but across Europe as well. She is a disciple of Guru Kalashri Vinay Tiwari, himself a disciple of Padma Bhushan awardee Saroja Vaidyanathan from Ganesa Natyalaya.

Thanuvi Jayaweeraarachchi

Thanuvi Jayaweeraarachchi

Thanuvi Jayaweeraarachchi, Sri Lanka

After finishing her high school in Sri Lanka, Jayaweeraarachchi moved to France to complete my Bachelors in International Business Management. She is lso a professional freelance dancer with exposure to Sri Lankan traditional dances along with many other dance forms. 


Fiyona Vaseekaran

Fiyona Vaseekaran

Fiyona Vaseekaran, 20, Indo-Sri Lankan

Vaseekaran is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social relations and human resources & has been involved in several associations for children. She likes to travel and has been active in sports, notabkly boxing.


Marisa Mathura

Marisa Mathura

Marisa Mathura, xx, Canada

Born and raised in Toronto, Mathura is of Indo-Guyanese decent and has been dancing since the age of 5, training in Kathak and Bollywood. In 2020, she graduated at the top of her class with honors from the University of Western Ontario, earning a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and certificate in Digital Communications. She currently works as a Senior Developer at TD Securities, leading a Robotic Process Automation team.



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