India’s 7Oth Independence Day Celebrations Biggest Ever in Toronto


70th Independence Day – Toronto has the biggest population of the Indian diaspora anywhere in North America. So why shouldn’t India’s Independence Day celebration be largest here? And then followed the biggest ever Parade and cultural extravaganza organised in Toronto making more than 25,000 Indo-Canadians gathered there immensely proud of the grandeur of India’s Independence Day celebrations, complete with nine floats on huge trailer trucks led by Grand Parade Marshal and Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra. Zee Sa Re Ga Ma sensations Kinjal Chatterjee and Jugpreet Bajwa enthralled the audience by their dazzling performances and leading Indian TV star Shabir Ahluwalia lent his star power to make this year’s celebrations truly the best ever organised in Toronto. Anu Srivastava, Chair Panorama India pointed out that more than 50 organisations have participated in this year’s celebrations and floats have been reintroduced after a gap of 5 years. She thanked Mr. Dinesh Bhatia and the Consulate for the support and encouragement provided throughout the organisation of this celebration. Organised by Panorama India with the support of the Consulate General of India in Toronto, the daylong celebration showcased India’s diversity through enthusiastic performances by more than 250 artists. Opening the celebrations, Mr. Bhatia said this celebration is not just about India’s 70th Independence Day but also about celebration of world’s oldest civilisation and its diversity. Dipika Damerla, Minister for Senior Affairs, Government of Ontario said that India has much to celebrate and 69 years is a mere blip in terms of passage of time for this ancient civilisation. Ontario opposition leader Patrick Brown dressed in Modi jacket noted that he is a great fan of Prime Minister Modi and said he had visited India so many times that in 2011 “they made me an honorary citizen of Gujarat…so I am half Gujju.” Venki Raman from CIBC, the lead sponsor of the event shared that CIBC has deep roots in the Indian community and has been participating in these celebrations for years. Other dignitaries who attended the celebrations included Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, MP Deepak Obhrai, Senator Vim Kochhar, Sanjay Makkar, President, Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and many others. After the flag hoisting ceremony at the Yonge Dundas Square, thousands of Indo-Canadians representing more than 50 organisations participated in the parade walking through the downtown core led by Scarborough Pipes & Drums. The downtown core reverberated to the full throated shouts of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai “ and “Jai Hind“. Nine floats mounted on 53 feet big trailer trucks passing through Toronto downtown was a truly impressive sight. Colorful Floats of Kashmir, Punjab, Bihar & Jharkhand, Gujarat and Maharashtra along with Art of Living and Sant Nirankari highlighted the cultural diversity of India. Two lucky participants in the parade from floats of Punjab and Maharashtra won the air tickets to India sponsored by Air Canada. Variety of Indian cuisine, jewellery, clothes and other ethnic ware for sale provided the visitors with a strong incentive to spend considerable time at the festivities. Popular TV star and the lead actor of popular Zee TV serial Kum Kum Bhagya- Shabir Ahluwalia obliged hundreds of fans with pictures and selfies causing long lineups at the Zee booth throughout the day. Evening celebrations were the performances by Sa Re Ga Ma stars and singing sensations Kinjal Chatterjee and Jugpreet Bajwa. Kinjal Chatterjee, a finalist of the Bengali Sa Re Ga Ma gave an electrifying performance of popular Bollywood songs. Jugpreet Bajwa, the blind finalist from Vancouver Canada, at this year’s Sa Re Ga Ma who has won hearts of the millions of viewers across the world with his singing, enthralled thousands at Yonge Dundas Square with his soulful performance and concluded the daylong celebration on a high note. Nanda & Associate Lawyers who invited Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra and Zee TV Canada who brought in their TV stars Shabir Ahluwalia and Jugpreet Bajwa were the lead sponsors of the event along with CIBC.