India Day Parade Rocks Downtown Toronto

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75,000 People Celebrate Panorama India Event; 23 Marching Groups, 17 Floats, Food Galore

TORONTO: More than 75,000 people celebrated India’s 71st Independence Day, heritage and its rich culture at the Panorama India Day festival and Grand Parade in Toronto on Sunday.

Downtown was filled with mesmerizing colours, music and flags as dance and music groups performed on stage at Nathan Philips Square from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm. On the streets, people thronged scores of food stalls to get a taste of India.

Bollywood actor Jimmy Sheirgill, who came specially from India, marshalled the parade, which began in Nathan Phillips Square before moving down Dundas and Yonge Street, and heading back along Queen.

Official festivities started with National Anthems of Canada and India. Federal Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan, Leader of the Federal Opposition Andrew Scheer, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Michael Tibollo, MP Sven Spengemann, MPP Deepak Anand, MPP Aris Babikian, MPP Nina Tangri and large number of prominent Indo-Canadians were present on the occasion.

Chair of Panorama India Anu Srivastava welcomed everyone. She expressed appreciation of the overwhelming support by Indo-Canadians in all aspects of the preparation prior to the festival and grand parade. She also thanked the Board of Directors for their tireless and volunteer efforts throughout the planning of the event. Minister Kirsty Duncan delivered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech in which he conveyed his best wishes . Leader of the Federal Opposition Andrew Scheer conveyed his greetings and Minister Michael Tibollo brought greetings from Premier Doug Ford.

During their speeches, all the dignitaries emphasized the long-standing relationship between Canada and India which is built on shared traditions of democracy, pluralism and strong ties of friendship. They also 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 with 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 India Canada ties.

The Parade consisted of 23 marching grolups and 17 floats exhibited on 53 feet flat bed trucks. Each float was created by local social and cultural Indo-Canadian groups from GTA within the umbrella organization of Panorama India. They represented various States of India. Contest winners of the floats in different categories were Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan, Jammu, Kashmir & Laddakh.

Punjabi singer Geeta Zaildar opened the stage with his high energy performance. Almost 400 local artist performers, including Panorama India Idol winners and runner ups, performed on the Main Stage. 33 performances consisting of folklore dances, fashion show and concert were held all day until 10:00pm.

The Cultural Program segment of the event was sponsored by Telus. Toronto Mayor John Tory addressed the audience and met with the local artists. Bollywood actor Pukhraj Bhalla came up on stage to interact with the crowds.

Headliner and King of Bhangra Malkit Singh put on a memorable performance, amazing the crowd with a one-hour performance of his most popular songs. Ravinderpal Lohi, winner of the sing with Malkit Singh on stage contest, also took the stage with Malkit during his performance.

Shiamak Davar Dance Troupe delivered the finale act in which over 50 performers took the stage in the Spirit of India.

Other activities included a Kids Zone; 40 corporate/retail and 15 food vendors with mouth watering food stalls offered a diverse variety of food from South India, Gujarat, Punjabi, Jamaican, Mughlai, Odisha, and North Indian.

India Day Festival & Grand Parade’s opening reception was held on August 18, at Holiday Inn Airport Toronto with community partners and organizations.

Photo Credits: Nisarg Lakhmani/Nisarg Media Productions