OTTAWA: The Ontario South Asian Community Association (OSACA) on Friday announced the launch of its annual showcase event, the South Asian Festival (www.southasianfest.net), the largest such festival in North America to celebrate the cultural heritage of the South Asian region.
The 10-day festival is sponsored by the TD Bank Group as its title sponsor as well as Fineqia International Inc. Financial support has also been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport via its Celebrate Ontario 2019 program, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (OCAF), Human Concern International, the City of Ottawa and the Rangar family.
Branded as the “TD SouthAsianFest,” it offers visitors a glimpse of arts, crafts, food, music and dance performances, primarily from the Indian sub-continent from Aug. 9 to Aug. 18. This year’s festival is being held in honour of the founder of the festival, Hunsdeep Singh Rangar (“Huns”), who tragically died in June this year (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/festivals-ottawa-film-asian-lgbtq-indigenous-1.5239969).
The festival, running for the eleventh year, with its kick-off Splash! dinner and dance boat cruise on the Ottawa river on August 9, which offers dinner and dance to the tune of Bollywood and bhangra music. This is followed by Ticket to Cricket event on August 11, in collaboration with the Defence Cricket Club at Rideau Hall.
The festival adds a new event in the form of Women of Influence at the National Arts Centre on the evening of August 12. Aside from networking opportunities, it will feature a panel of notable south Asian women from Canada and the US. Opening remarks will be provided by Hon. Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport as well as a spokesperson from the Human Concern International.
Other eminent persons addressing the festival include the former Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre, the former Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal and Ontario’s Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria.
“We’re grateful to have such a show of attendance from community leaders and those interested in south Asian culture, at a time of deep sadness for our family,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, President of OSACA and brother of the festival’s founder. “SAF2019 has only been possible by the countless hours of behind-the-scenes work by OSACA’s TeamHuns support team.”
On August 13, visitors get a 15% discount at select Indian restaurants across the capital by simply stating they’re part of the celebration of South Asian food called FoodFest!
From August 14, the festival shifts to the Ottawa City Hall, with dance lessons from professional dancers, including Masala Bhangra at the Dance Showcase. On August 15, artwork from local artists of South Asian background, or else influenced by the region, is featured in The Focus is ART!
On Friday, August 16, the Vedic Sanskruti organisation partners with the festival for live Gujarati dancing via the Garba in the Park show. On August 17 and August 18, the family-friendly shows continue with star south Asian singers from Canada, India, Pakistan, the UK and the US such as Sharry Mann, Miss Pooja, Raghav, H Dhami and Nasreen Shoshi performing on stage.
In addition, approximately 20 local singers, musicians and fashion designers will present their talent during the final two days of the festival. Festival fun will include entertainment such as henna artistry, face painting, magicians, bouncing castle installations, video games, among other items.
On the final day, an India Day parade will be held to celebrate India’s Independence Day, and a flag will be hoisted by Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada.
During the entire weekend of August 16-18, stage performances as part of the Mirch Masala Mega Mela are accompanied by vendor booths displaying culinary delights, arts and crafts from the Indian subcontinent and supported by Mirch Masala radio programs on CHIN Radio 97.9 FM.
OSACA’s TeamHuns members include Jagdeep Singh Perhar, Meeta Singh, Jyoti Bhullar, Meenakshi Sharma-Vadnais, Sheryl Singh Bagga, Becky Dipa Khan, Lovejot Singh Deo, Maipal Singh Bali, Chetan Sharma, Farid Pirzada, Anuj Joshi, Virender Chopra and Ilon Tyan, who has been the lead coordinator of activities.
The 10-day event is proudly supported by the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce, the India Canada Association and Cistel Technology among other organisations and companies.
For more information, please visit www.southasianfest.net.