Photo Credits: by Nisarg Lakhmani / Nisarg Media Productions
BY STAFF REPORTER, TORONTO: The colours and festivities of India shaded City Hall on Sunday when more than 75,000 people participated in the Indian Day festival and Grand Parade to mark India’s 71st Independence Day. Organized by Panorama India with the support of the Consulate General of India in Toronto, the all-day event celebrated India’s culture and heritage and presented 400 local artists, music and dance performances, a kid’s zone and an international bazaar with kiosks exhibiting fashion, jewellery, handicrafts and an array of food. The King of Bhangra Malkit Singh, Indo-Canadian singer Parichay and Indian Actor Pukhraj Bhalla also entertained the massive audience.
The event kicked off with the National Anthems of Canada and India followed by the Grand Parade, marshalled by Bollywood actor Jimmy Sheirgill. The parade consisted of 17 floats put together by 23 organizations, each one created by local social and cultural Indo-Canadian groups from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) under the umbrella organization of Panorama India. The floats represented the various States (provinces) of India and included Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan, Jammu, Kashmir & Laddakh.
“Under the dynamic leadership of Consul General Dinesh Bhatia, Panorama India has reached new heights with astounding enthusiasm and vitality,” said Anu Srivastava, chair of Panorama India on August 19 thanking volunteers, community organizations and sponsors for contributing to the event’s success. “India Day parade is the signature element of today’s celebration with several community organizations representing the various States and cultural diversity of India,”
Festivities began in the presence of India’s Consul General, Amb. Dinesh Bhatia and his wife Seema Bhatia, Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of Science, Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Opposition, Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, MP Sven Spengemann, MPP Deepak Anand, MPP Aris Babikian, MPP Nina Tangri as well as thousands of the Indo Canadian community.
Dignitaries emphasised the long-standing relationship between Canada and India built on shared traditions of democracy, pluralism and strong ties of friendship and praised the cultural diversity and democratic values of India as well as Indian Diaspora’s contribution in every aspect of Canada.
Consul General of India Dinesh Bhatia addressed the gathering on a sombre note observing a moment of silence on the demise of the former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He explained the relevance and purpose of organizing India Day Parade while stressing on the importance of strong India Canada bilateral ties.
During the day, there were 33 performances consisting of various cultural folklore dances, a fashion show and concert performances. Punjabi singer Geeta Zaildar opened the stage with his high energy performance while Bollywood actor Pukhraj Bhalla interacted with the crowds.
Singer, song writer and producer Parichay warmed up the audience with renditions of popular Hindi and Punjabi songs.
Headliner and King of Bhangra Malkit Singh put on a memorable performance, energizing crowds with a one-hour performance of his most popular songs. The finale act was by the Shiamak Davar Dance Troupe with over 50 performers on stage.