Namaste Canada 2017 was a free mega-cultural event held on Sunday-Monday 3-4, September 2017 at the Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey. It was hosted by the Consulate General of India, Vancouver in collaboration with Indo-Canadian Associations and Cultural Societies across British Columbia. This annual event was planned for the second year in 2017 with a focus on celebrating the ties between India and Canada.
Showcasing Indian Arts and Culture | Indian arts including classical, popular and folk music and dance as well as floor based Rangoli designs and colourful decorations were on display as part of the rich heritage that binds together the diverse and large number of people of East Indian origin living in Surrey and across BC. The event was also a window into the friendship and community service offered by Indo Canadian associations in local neighbourhoods across Metro Vancouver.
Preeti Misra was one of the four key Program and Technical Coordinators organizing the entire show. She described this as one exceptional platform showcasing the humanitarian and cultural work of the Indian community in the Greater Vancouver region. “The beautiful presentation of arts, documentaries and displays were tremendously successful in engaging the wider community and bringing members of the Indian diaspora all under one umbrella stage. Many of the people attending applauded the high standard of performances and exceptional hospitality.”
Volunteering to bring community together | The event was run almost entirely by volunteers who supported the Consulate General of India in organizing the two day celebration. Volunteerism is a wonderful tradition in our local communities that many newcomers to Canada wholeheartedly adopt and take on. The Namaste Canada event was no exception. Volunteers also participated in the cultural and variety entertainment show. The musical renditions, community based and professional dance groups, talks on meditation techniques, Yoga demonstrations were all testament to the enthusiasm of local Indian residents who have adopted a new way of life in Canada but held on to their cherished roots at the same time.
Mrs. Anupama Deshpande was a 70 year old volunteer participant in the opening ceremony. “India is a 70 year old vibrant democracy in 2017 and I have the privilege and pleasure of celebrating the same birth year as my home country. Canada marks 150 years as a flourishing inclusive nation. In Surrey particularly I see a wonderful confluence of the strengths of both nations. Namaste Canada 2017 was a unique and wonderful experience. It adds to the special selection of festivities that Surrey city offers, garnering provincial, national and international attention”
‘We are all part of one family and the earth is our mother’
The inauguration of the event began with recitation of a Mantra from ancient Indian scriptures in Sanskrit language by Dr. Swami Satya Prakash which called upon all to uphold universal values of tolerance, unity and mutual respect:
- Let us walk in unity on the path of peace, progress and prosperity with common ideals and goals.
- Let us speak a common language of harmony; Let there be no discord or conflict in our words.
- Let us lend our consideration, sympathy and affection to each other’s needs.
- Our sages of yore have led the way in this path and we must follow the same as we celebrate our unity in diversity.
Audiences at the event were energized and invigorated. As one member of the Indian diaspora said, “We carry a small part of India in our hearts and today we celebrated to our hearts content at Namaste Canada”