Indian Summer Festival prepares for another fabulous year

THE Indian Summer Festival returns for its fourth year, celebrating and enhancing Vancouver’s cultural landscape. Between July 3 and 12, venues all over the city will host a spectrum of performances, talks, exhibitions, workshops, screenings, tastings and discussions, all in the spirit of cross-cultural exchange between Canada and South Asia.

The festival kicks off on the evening of July 3 with the much-anticipated opening gala, being held once again in the spectacular Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. One of Vancouver’s most celebrated chefs, Vikram Vij, will curate a culinary tour of Asia, leading the tastebuds of attendees on a trip stretching from India to Iran, Bangladesh and Japan.

Opening weekend highlights include a talk by Commonwealth prize-winning author Rana Dasgupta on his new book Capital, a portrait of 21st century Delhi. There will be an outdoor film screening in Victory Square Park, with a Laughing Yoga class to warm up the evening, and food trucks to keep movie watchers going.

A major highlight of the first weekend is an evening of Sufi poetry and music headlined by American poet and interpreter Coleman Barks, the man responsible for making the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi the best-selling poet in North America. The performance, entitled ‘A Hundred Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground,’ will be held at St Andrew’s-Wesley Church and set to live music by renowned sitarist Mohamed Assani and barbat maestro Hossein Behroozinia, combining Rumi’s poetry with the music of Tajikistan, Iran and Turkey.

Day four of the festival features ‘Passages: Cultural Legacies of the Komagata Maru’ at the Museum of Vancouver. This evening of cross-media storytelling features The Neelamjit Dhillon Jazz Quartet and poets Phinder Dulai, Renee Saklikar and Priscila Uppal. Uppal, a renowned Ottawa-born poet of Brazilian and Punjabi-Sikh descent has been named “Canada’s coolest poet” by Time Out London (UK), and has found inspiration in everything from multicultural clashes to the aesthetics of Olympic sports. Her latest book, “Projection” was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.

“Whether rooted in food, dance, music, literature, business, politics or social justice, Indian Summer is proud to host exciting dialogues concerning both the history and the future of Canada’s relationship with South Asia,” says artistic director Sirish Rao. “As always, there’s an abundance of stimulating and thought-provoking events, both free and ticketed, to keep Vancouverites and visitors busy throughout the 10-day festival.”

Mesmerizing visual art by graphic novelist Orijit Sen (nicknamed the Michelangelo of India) graces the Woodward’s Atrium for an entire month. His giant mural from the Moshe Safdie-designed Khalsa Heritage Museum in Punjab is on display for the first time in Canada. He will be in conversation with David Wong, creator of a graphic novel on the Chinese community in BC, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, visual artist and author of ‘Red’, which melds the traditional Haida art form with Japanese Manga.

In another Canadian first, London-based speakers series 5×15 comes to Vancouver through Indian Summer, featuring five electric speakers for 15 minutes each at The Fox Cabaret. Speakers include Zarqa Nawaz (creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie) and spoken word legend Ivan Coyote.

The famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai, who deliver 350,000 lunch boxes or ‘tiffins’ from home to office in India’s megalopolis will also join the festival of arts and ideas, speaking of their entrepreneurial model, and what makes them among the most efficient organizations on earth, with an error margin of one in six million.

The festival culminates with slam poets, musicians and DJs at the Lit & Sound Cabaret on July 11 and the festival’s signature Dinner by Starlight held every year at a secret location on July 12.

More events will continue to be announced as the summer draws closer, and the full calendar will be available on the event website: