Posted in Family, Festivals
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07/14 2011

Festival of India Arts and Culture

The 39th Annual Festival of India, which will be celebrated on Centre Island from July 16-17, 2011 once again proudly presents its unique Arts & Culture Showcase, a beautiful and soul-riveting program of devotional music and dramatic dance from the ancient subcontinent.

Rain-or-shine, in a tented, outdoor venue, this show grants audiences a free ticket to observe the spiritual allure and the creative elegance of dramas, melodies, and choreography that were once commonplace in ancient, spiritual India.  With a lineup of internationally acclaimed artists and performers, the program promises a unique and unforgettable collection of sublime sounds and enchanting performances.

Dance Performances from Across South Asia
Menaka Thakkar Dance Company – Bharatnatyam
Kumari Ellora Patnaik & Guru Sri Devraj Patnaik – Odissi
Enakshi Das – Odissi
Panwar Music and Dance Productions – Kathak
Uma Vasudevan – Bharatnatyam

Experience Kirtan
The 39th Annual Festival of India ‘s Arts & Culture extravaganza will be showcasing traditional and modern forms of a devotional music style known as kirtan. In recent years, word about this form of music has been spreading and developing into its own subculture and modern indie music scene.  At the Festival of India, audiences will be able to experience kirtan performances by a number of classically-trained local and international kirtan musicians and bands. Traditional South Asian instruments and mantras together with contemporary sounds and rhythms will burst forth into ecstatic, new musical experiences that must be heard to be believed!

Explore India’s Spiritual Roots on Centre Island
The Festival of India also features a vibrant parade down Yonge Street on Saturday, July 16th, with celebrations continuing on Toronto’s beautiful Centre Island for the remainder of the weekend.  Aside from the Arts & Culture Showcase, festival-goers will find a massive, colourful and free festival, featuring a South Asian bazaar, Vedic exhibits, a children’s area, face-painting, and our world-famous FREE vegetarian feast!  On Sunday, July 17th, the Festival will also present the Fourth Annual Yoga Meltdown – a “festival within a festival” – focusing on presenting the spiritual depth of yoga and much more!

For more info visit the Festival of India website or call 1-888-535-FEST (3378).

This article first appeared on and is re-posted here with permission

Posted in Festivals
07/14 2011

South Asia’s Got Talent!

south asia's got talentTD Festival of South Asia, one of the largest South Asian events in Canada, announces the launch of an exciting new segment targeted at South Asian youth called TD South Asia’s Got Talent (S.A.G.T). The S.A.G.T team has been on the hunt for top talent in every corner of the GTA for the last two months and is currently hunting for the top.

“We have narrowed down our search to nine brilliant contenders for this one of a kind event. Those who will attend this event will not be disappointed as we have found the best of the best,” says Mayanka Sarin, co-manager of S.A.G.T.

All nine contenders will compete in a grand show scheduled to take place on stage Saturday (July 16th) from 6 – 9 pm. Three celebrity judges have been finalized – comedian Jus Reign, CTV news anchor Sangita Patel and Naach Radio host Waseem Shaikh will be part of the segment and will select one winner. Winners of the competition will receive a legacy trophy, exclusive media interview as well as the title of Canada’s first TD S.A.G.T winner.

“S.A.G.T is a great example of how we are promoting South Asian culture and talent amongst youth in the GTA. We hope this event sets a foundation for the future and we are confident that S.A.G.T will be very successful!” says Pearl Mehra, co-manager of S.A.G.T. The TD Festival of South Asia will showcase the latest in South Asian fashion, foods, arts, amateur films and more.

This article first appeared on and is re-posted here with permission

Posted in Festivals
07/12 2011

A Weekend in Multicultural Toronto

This past weekend I saw five different free or nearly-free ethno-cultural events. The first was Corazon de Mexico at Harbourfront Centre where I saw the delightful Marionetas de la Esquina, a Mexican gift to Toronto. I could not help laughing with the children as they watched a ballerina walk a tight-rope. A clown was doing “difficult” acrobatics on a chair (above centre).

I got to the cooking demonstration in time to line up for a $2 sample of tinga de pollo and a glass of fresh lime juice. Just what I needed on a hot day! The spectators were people who spoke Spanish and people who didn’t look like they spoke Spanish. It was a lovely, multicultural crowd.


Posted in Festivals
06/27 2011

Pow Wow at Wells Hill Park

powwow1Saturday’s Pow Wow at Wells Hill Park made up for my disappointment about our big Pow Wow having moved to Hamilton. The park setting was more fitting for a First Nations’ event than the big, man-made Sky Dome. The park was more crowded, but it was more intimate and green.

Master of Ceremonies Bob Goulais set a very welcoming tone. He asked for no photography during the opening spiritual part of the event. Such announcements had been lost in the impersonal Sky Dome. Without the distraction of a camera separating us from people, I could concentrate on the ceremony. Jacqui LaValley’s prayer in the Anishnawbe language was beautiful.

I stayed for the first hour and then went back for the last. Goulais encouraged everyone to get up and dance. In return for letting us take pictures, he said we had to join the fun. Okay, it was a joke but he made his point. He also got people dancing by giving prizes for being in the right spot at the end of each dance. By the end, there were more people dancing than watching. At the end, everybody got a prize. READ MORE

Posted in Festivals
06/21 2011

Festival Brings Hungarians Together

Hungarian dancing at Toronto's HCCC
Toronto’s Hungarian community comes together this weekend (June 24 – 26) to celebrate its heritage with music, dancing, crafts and food, all centred around the Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre at 840 St. Clair Avenue West.

Last week, I checked in on a rehearsal of the Kodaly Ensemble, one of the principal groups performing throughout the weekend. Group president Andrew Komaromy, above in gold shirt, advised me to arrive at the Centre around 8:30 to ensure that his class was properly warmed up. It was a cool spring evening but down in the basement rehearsal space the air was thick with humidity. Komaromy joked that he needed to change his wet shirt before I started taking pictures. Another instructor, a friendly young woman, suggested that I should come back every week because apparently the quality of the dancing improved when the camera came out.