With the great glamour and festivity, Namaste Canada 2018 entered its 3rd year this fall as it continues its journey in bringing beautiful Indian cultural richness to Canada. It was wonderful to watch all the ladies dressed in their finery, dance costumes and exquisite jewelry adorning Michael J Fox theater with all the glitter from India. Young children dressed in their beautiful costumes were skipping around having a great time.
The entrance was decorated with beautiful Rangoli, brass lamps and sitar music flowed through the hallway and auditorium. Gold, red, green and other beautiful colors were everywhere, it was like a slice of India. The program started of with the lighting of the lamp followed by the Indian and Canadian National Anthems and the inaugural speeches by both Indian and Canadian dignitaries. The Stars of the North Drum group performed a song that flowed into a group vocal performance by Pandit Jasraj School of Music. The grand Chanda Mela drum performance by the Vancouver Malayalee Samaja ended with the presentation of certificates to the participating organisations. The inaugural cultural program started off with a classical Bharatanatyam piece presented by Mandala Arts, followed by a Bhangra dance from the Royal Academy of Bhangra before the intermission.
The second session started off with Shiv Tandav by Varad Ashram Inter-Cultural Service Humanitarian World Association and later we had vibrant performances by Kashmiri group and Bharatiya Tamizh Sangam. This section included performances from various states of India, including a folk dance from Haryana, Dandiya Raas from Gujarat, Nryutendrajalam from Malayalee Association, a Telegu folk dance, and the famous Bihu dance from Assam. Thamil cultural association presented a Senthamil Nadu folk dance, and there was a Giddha dance from Punjab. We also saw a dance on Shiva by Nandanum school of Bharatanatyam before the session closed. All these beautiful dances were presented with authentic costumes, slide projections, and beautiful stage decorations, while the acoustics of the hall enhanced the sound of the music and footwork.
Besides these wonderful performances, delicious food, snacks, excellent chai and coffee were all served at nominal rates. The dosas, vadas, and chaat were all very fresh and tasty. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Raishma Bhan, who along with other beautiful ladies, presented the Kashmiri dance. This was the first time that the Kashmiri group participated in Namaste Canada and they did a fabulous job.
UBC student Vaishnavi Sridhar had this to say ”Namaste Canada beautifully showcased the colors of India in the Metro Vancouver area. All the performances were a feast to the eyes and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I especially loved the beautiful performance by the Developmental Disabilities Association and the high energy Kalbelia performance by the India Cultural Association of Vancouver. I am eagerly looking forward to Namaste Canada 2019.”
Mrs. Sonal Munshi from Margi Dance Academy of Kathak dance said “Namaste Canada is a platform provided by CGI Vancouver to bring the Indian … community together to celebrate and share our common heritage and Indian culture. When you think from [the] community perspective, ‘no duplicate’ policy, in terms of participating associations and the dances, adopted this year was a big plus point as most states got a chance to perform and the community got a chance to see some of the state dances they may never have had a chance to see. I wish and hope we will see even more diversity in the years to come. The community came together. A true ‘India in Vancouver’ experience for all but especially for younger generations to experience the ‘Unity in Diversity’ and to see the vast, rich, and diverse cultural heritage of India. To have an ‘Indian Experience’ in a very positive way. I saw during rehearsals that the participants were very enthusiastic. They worked hard even with their busy schedules. For me, it was a wonderful experience working as a part of the team Namaste Canada 2018.”
Mrs. Raishma Bhan of Kashmiris of Greater Vancouver group had this to say, ”I would like to start off by thanking [the Consulate] for offering our Kashmiri group an opportunity to be a part of this amazing event. Our very first experience of performing on the stage has been extremely positive and a great confidence booster. The interactions with the Namaste Canada team were professional and supportive. On the whole, I and my group had an amazing time rehearsing, performing and being a part of this magical team. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Consul General, Ms. Abhilasha Joshi jee, for organizing such an amazingly successful event. Also kudos to all the volunteers who worked numerous hours to make this event a success. We hope to continue this relationship for a very long time to come. Jai Hind.”
The final session in the evening brought more vibrant music, colors and many more exquisite dances to the stage. It was a great combination of folk, classical, and Bollywood dances that enthralled the audience. It began with Yakshagana of Karnataka which is an ancient folk art with elaborate costumes, makeup and drama. Next came the beautiful Varnam in Mohiniyattam style. The Garba dance, Sambalpuri dance, and Kolattam dance followed to balance classical with folk. The Developmental Disabilities Association touched the hearts of everyone in the audience with their presentation. The Koli dance, also called the fisherman/woman dance, from Maharashtra brought nostalgic memories of Mumbai shores to me. The exquisite and well choreographed Raas Lila in Manipuri style was performed very gracefully. The Rajasthani Kalbelia costumes and dance were mesmerizing. As always, Shiamak Davar’s dance presentation provided the spectacular event a glamorous, Bollywood style finale. Best wishes for Namaste Canada 2019.