TORONTO: Diwali’s official celebrations in Toronto this year came two weeks earlier than traditional celebrations as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, her ministers, members of the provincial parliament (MPP) and Indian consul general Akhilesh Mishra joined the Indo-Canadian community in Diwali puja at Queen’s Park here this week.
Organized by Panorama India, an umbrella organization of various Indo-Canadian associations, Diwali celebrations at Queen’s Park (the Ontario assembly) are an annual feature where the premier joins and greets the Indo-Canadian community on the occasion.
After the lighting of traditional diyas (lamps) and the chanting of mantras and prayers by Hindu priests, the premier (equal to a chief minister in India) greeted the Indo-Canadian community on the occasion of the most important festival in Hindu, Sikh and Jain calendars.
Kathleen said the Festival of Lights assumes even more significance in Canada because it comes right at the time when dark winter sets in the country.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaking at Diwali celebrations at Queen’s Park.
Calling Ontario an important role model for the world because of its racial and cultural diversity, the premier said the Indo-Canadian community is an important part of this diversity.
MPP Dipika Damerla speaking at the Diwali function at Queen’s Park.
Earlier, Dipika Damerla, an MPP of Indian origin in Ontario, introduced the premier to the audience which included many corporate and business leaders, including Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce president Dharma P. Jain. She explained the origins and importance of Diwali in Indian tradition and culture.
Those who came to Diwali celebrations at Queen’s Park. Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce president Dharma P. Jain is above (left).
Panorama India chief Anu Srivastava thanked the Premier for taking off her busy schedule to join in the celebrations.
“You are a great supporter of Panorama India and we would like to thank you for attending our events. I would also like to thank the Consul General of India for attending the event,’’ Srivastava said.
Panorama India chief Anu Srivastava welcoming the Premier.
Panorama India chief Anu Srivastava (centre) with Panorama board director Shalini Srivastava.
Panorama India board members Shalini Srivastava and Dhruba Ghosh.
Srivastava said the Festival of Lights symbolizes the victory of good over evil and Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom Ayodhya where people lit lamps in his welcome.
“Hindus believe that the light from the earthen diya symbolizes the enlightenment within the individual,’’ she said.
Srivastava also explained the significance of Diwali for Sikhs whose Sixth Guru, Har Gobindji, was released from captivity by Mughal Emperor Jehangir on this day, and for the Jains as Lord Mahavir attained Nirvana on this day.
The Panorama India chief also thanked the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) for sponsoring Diwali celebrations at Queen’s Park right from inception.
CIBC vice-president Raza Hasan
CIBC’s Venky Raman (left) with Indian consul general Akhilesh Mishra (back to the camera).
On behalf of the bank, Raza Hasan , senior vice-president at CIBC, said his bank has “a long history of celebrating Canada’s diversity…this includes celebrating the artistic, cultural and business contribution of more than one million people of South Asian heritage in Canada.’’
Raza Hasan said his bank has issued a Diwali medallion with the image of Ganesha and he presented a coin to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
TORONTO: Toronto mayor Rob Ford danced to bhangra beats, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne wore salwar-kameez for the occasion and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and his multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney sent their greetings as thousands of Indo-Canadians celebrated India’s Independence Day in advance here on Aug 2.
A huge cultural parade followed by day-long music, dance and cuisine from various parts of India marked the day.
Joining them in the celebrations at Mel Lastman Square on Toronto historic Yonge Street were Indian high commissioner Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Verma and consul general Akhilesh Mishra, Senator Asha Seth, Ontario’s Indo-Canadian minister Dipika Damerla, federal and provincial lawmakers, and top bank executives.
Organized by pan-Indian cultural organization Panorama India, the celebrations kicked off with the cultural parade comprising various Indian states, with the newest Telangana leading with the largest contingent.
For a while, the stretch of Yonge Street next to Mel Lastman Square turned into a colourful mosaic of India as state contingents showcased the country’s rich cultural diversity. Tricolour scarves could be seen everywhere.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at India Independence Day in Toronto on Aug 2.
Premier Kathleen Wynne with high commissioner Nirmal Verma, consul general Akhilesh Mishra, minister Dipika Damerla and Panorama India chairperson Anu Srivastava.
After the parade as the day-long cultural extravaganza began with the unfurling of the Indian flag, Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed the gathering. She asked if anyone in the gathering was there in India in 1947 when it got its independence. Many hands went up, and the Premier looked surprised as she greeted them on the happy occasion.
The Premier lauded India for its “remarkable’’ achievements since 1947. She said India and Canada shared many things, including cultural diversity, and hailed the one-million-strong Indo-Canadian community for its contribution to Canada’s diversity.
“Thank you for enriching Canada,’’ she said. Calling Canada-India relations a “thriving and vibrant connection,’’ the Premier said she wants to `strengthen and deepen’’ this connection.
On a jovial note, she thanked the Indo-Canadian community for bringing cricket to Canada in a big way.
In his speech, Indian high commissioner Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Verma described the recent elections in India as the world’s biggest democratic exercise in which even a lonely voter who lives deep inside the Gir Forest in Gujarat as a temple priest is catered to.
He recalled how US ships used to bring wheat to India for feeding its millions just after independence and how India has now become the world’s largest exporter of rice and the second largest exporter of wheat.
“We are proud of what we have achieved,’’ Admiral Verma said.
Indian high commissioner Nirmal Verma, consul general Akhilesh Mishra and Senator Asha Seth.
Calling India a “melting pot of cultures,’’ the high commissioner said India and Canada shared common bonds of rich cultural diversity.
He said the Indian diaspora has thrived in Canada because it is a melting pot like India and thanked Canada for accepting the Indian community as equal partners. The high commissioner ended his speech with `Jai Hind, Jai Canada’.
In his message to the Indo-Canadian community, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “India has evolved into a vibrant, pluralistic democracy and is rising to global prominence.’’
The Canadian PM lauded the more than one million-strong Indo-Canadian community for its contribution to deepening ties between the two countries as he wished them “a memorable celebration’’ of the country’s 68th Independence Day.
Jason Kenny, minister for multiculturalism, said India Day celebrations were an occasion to “reflect upon the many ways in which Canadians of Indian heritage have contributed to Canadian society.’’
Kenney said Indo-Canadians have “enriched Canada with their traditions as well as with their skills, knowledge and talent.’’ He lauded the Indo-Canadians for “your commitment to the community, and to preserving and promoting Indian heritage and traditions.’’
The highlight of the day-long cultural extravaganza was the high-voltage bhangra by RDB’s lead singer Manj who set the stage on fire with hit numbers `Singh is Kinng’, Kade Saadi Gali Bhul Ke Vi Aya Karo, Tu Meri Dal Makhani, etc.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford doing bhangra with Manj at the India Independence celebrations on Aug 2.
Just as Manj was busy belting out these hit numbers, Toronto mayor Rob Ford popped in. Manj spotted him and reached him and made him shake hips to bhangra beats.
“How exciting to see Mayor Rob Ford dance to the scintillating bhangra beats of Manj,’’ beamed Panorama India chairperson Anu Srivastava who called the mayor to the stage to say a few words to the community.
The mayor lauded the Indo-Canadians as hard working and family-oriented people and `guaranteed’ a quick response if the community approached him on any issue. Similar sentiments were shared earlier from the stage by another Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory.
Manj and Dr Cabbie star Vinay Virmani entertain the crowd
Manj, Vinay Virmani, Tia Bhatia and others performing a song from the upcoming film Dr Cabbie.
The most exciting moment came when Indo-Canadian actor Vinay Virmani, whose film Dr Cabbie releases in September, appeared on the stage with Manj to sing and dance with him. Vinay, who was accompanied by Tia Bhatia, said his film is about a qualified doctor immigrant who is forced to take up cab driving in Toronto.
Away from the stage, nearly 30 vendors sold ethnic jewelry and treated visitors to Indian delicacies of biryani, idli, dosa, vada, chicken, corn, ice-cream,etc. Major banks had set up their kiosks.
The Telagana contingent was adjudged the best of the parade.
Vinay Virmani, Tia Bhatia and Manj pose with Panorama India chairperson Anu Srivastava and director Suvarna Kulkarni.
Said Panorama India Chair Anu Srivastava,“The most interesting feature of this year’s Parade was the community’s enthusiasm. Gujarat’s decorated rickshaw had 400 Gujarati people in the contingent who came in two busloads from Brampton, whereas Telangana had extremely enthusiastic crowds of 150 in the parade with their traditionally decorated hand pulled rickshaws.’’
At VIP reception, Premier Kathleen Wynne poses with Panorama India team. From left: Dhruv Ghosh, Brij Sharma, Chairperson Anu Srivastava, Shalini Srivastava and Vijay Kumar.
Earlier in the morning welcoming the Premier and others at a VIP reception in the nearby Novotel Hotel, Srivastava, who took over Panorama India chief just a few weeks ago, said, “Taking the lead of the organization twelve weeks ago in the middle of the term is not an easy task. Apart from learning the intricacies inherent to the organization, I foresee an urgent need to profile the Panorama platform and its mandate of Educate, Celebrate and Collaborate.’’
She added, “Panorama India is truly an organization with a dedicated team of volunteers who have immense love for their home land India and want to celebrate India’s rich culture in their adopted homeland Canada. In doing so, Panorama’s efforts have deepened the bonds between the two countries and developed cordial relations”.
North America Premier of Bombay Talkies
Tues Nov 5 @ 7:00PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Panorama India Community Partner
Panorama India is proud to join hands with Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival in their endeavor to include South Asian films with North American Premier of Bombay Talkies Tues Nov 5 @ 7:00PM, Isabel Bader Theatre Celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema, this Cannes Film Festival Gala film showcases the power of storytelling by four of Mumbai's hottest independent filmmakers. Featuring Bollywood stars Rani Mukerji and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Attached is an e-poster. Exclusive for Panorama India members, Use promo code toronto17 to save 25% off regular ticket prices at reelasian.com (valid until Nov 5; only sales only). BUY TICKETS
Message from High Commission of India, Ottawa
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT - CONSULAR SERVICES
It is hereby notified that the terms of service of the present applications collection agency – M/s VFS Global - has expired on 28/02/2013 for entire Canada
Applicants who intend to apply for the Passport, Visa and other Consular Services up to 28/02/2013 may please visit in.vfsglobal.ca (under 'News and Notices') for detailed information.
Effective 01/03/2013, applications for Passport, Visa and other Consular Services will have to be submitted to
M/s BLS International
Their address and contact details for various locations are given below:
1. Ottawa - 150 Montreal Road, Unit 311, ON, KIL 8H2
2. Montreal – 1000, Sherbrook Steet West, Unit 701, Montreal QC, H2L 1L5
3. Toronto – 1448 Lawrence Avenue E, Unit 6 A, ON, M4A 2V6
4. Brampton - 10 Gillingham Drive , Unit 201 , ON, L6X 5A5
5. Winnipeg – 1806, 201 Portage Avenue, 18th Floor, MB R3B 3K6
6. Surrey - Unit 201-8140 120th Street, Surrey V3W 3N3
7. Calgary – 5120, 47 St NE # 131, Calgary, AB, T3J 4K3
8. Vancouver – Unit B-50, 850 West Hastings Street, BC V6C 1E1
9. Edmonton – 3, 10016, 29a Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T6N 1A8
2013 Indian Republic Day Celebrations Videos
Dear Panorama India Supporter,
On behalf of the entire board of Panorama India, I want to sincerely thank you for making Panorama India's 64th Indian Republic Day Celebration & Festival the best ever! Feedback from dignitaries and many many of you has been hugely positive. We had great media coverage and incredible audience support.
Record breaking crowd including many for the first time had the opportunity to Celebrate India’s 64th Republic Day welcoming the High Commissioner of India, Enjoy cultural program spanning from very first time impressive Veena concert, outstanding Indian classical dance fusion with ballet, national anthem on Veena instrumental music to patriotic songs, folk dances, dazzling Bollywood dances, bhangra, Panorama India’s Idol 4th edition, children drawing competition etc etc, Fun, getting around different vendor booth to know about their services, buy unique products and feast on tasty and varieties of food.
We couldn't have accomplished this without your presence and support. We are looking forward to your continued support for our events throughout the year.
Please follow the link to see pictures captured at the event
(please post on your Facebook page)
TORONTO: Indo-Canadian Unity in Diversity. That's was the theme of Panorama India-organized celebrations of India's 64th Republic Day on Sunday at the Pearson Convention Center in Brampton on Sunday January 27th.
The new Indian High Commissioner Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Verma, Consul General Preeti Saran, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and others dignitaries joined the local Indo-Canadian community in the celebrations.
The ceremonies began, with Jake Dheer introducing the guests to the audience and former Idol Contest Winners – Ferzana Bohra (2010), Subash Gandhi (2012 seniors) and Anusha Shivalingam (2010) singing patriotic songs. This was followed by 'Veena Symphony' from the Veenalyam School of Music and singing of the national anthems of India and Canada. Then the audiences were enthralled by the colourful invocation dance – Ganesha Vandana - by Menaka Thakkar Dance Company.
Jibanjit Tripathy, Chairperson of Panorama India, welcomed H.E. Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Kumar, the new High Commissioner of India to Canada and then outlined the three-fold mission of the Panorama: Educate, Celebrate and Collaborate. The great Pandit Ravi Shanker, who passed away, last year, was paid a befitting tribute on the overhead projector.
To emphasize the unity in diversity was the dance 'East meets West' – a fabulous presentation of nimble footed ballet and Indian dance union – choreographed by Atri Nundy and Debbie Wilson of the Sampradaya Dance Creations.
Addressing the gathering Consul General Preeti Saran offered her best wishes to the community on India's 64th republic day celebration, she congratulated Panorama India on staging the India Day Festival and introduced the High Commissioner.
The high commissioner praised the work of Panorama India and the Indian diaspora in Canada to promote Indian culture and keeping its traditions alive. He said India has the world's largest young population, and quoted President Pranab Mukherji that India has changed more in the last six decades than in the last six centuries. The High Commissioner acknowledged eminent Indo-Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist Aditya Jha on his appointment as members of the Order of Canada.
The highlight of the day was the traditional Folk Dance Competition involving various Canadian dance schools competing for the best folk dance presentation. There was also a Children Drawing Competition, taking place at the same time.
The cultural extravaganza included performances by Kannada Sangha: Old is Gold, Ente Keralam – A bharathanatyam and Mohini Attam Fusion, Mix Bollywood Songs from Neeti Dream Dance, Yog Pranayam Demonstration by Patanjali Yog Peeth Canada, Odisha Festival Dance, Special Bhangra Dance, Bollywood dance, Lavani dance, and a host of crisp choreographed medleys. The grand finale was by Jadoo Entertainment.
The day-long ceremonies came to an end after the presentation of trophies and the announcement of Idol Contest winners, sponsored by State Bank of India (Canada). Sumana Dey was crowned 4th Panorama India's Idol in adult category while Anjana Rajendran was crowned in junior category. State Bank of India President & CEO Sunil Tandon, Panorama India chair Jibanjit Tripathy and co-chair Ramesh Bangalore gave away the awards.
This is also a Mela. Meena bazaar, handicrafts, ethnic outfits, costume jewellery, delicious Indian snacks, food and much more... were put up by large numbers of vendors. For the expatriates in GTA and surrounding areas it was a great Sunday outing with their family and friends. The day brought sweet memories and nostalgia of such ceremonies back home in India. Overall, the event was a resounding success. Panorama India would like to thank you all.
Panorama India was established in 1999 with the support of Consulate General of India as a non-profit umbrella organization with a goal to help unite all Indo-Canadian cultural associations and groups in the GTA and to project a common identity based on their Indian heritage and celebrate Unity in Diversity.