Vancouver’s Indian Summer Festival aims to cross cultural boundaries

Published: July 3, 2013

Vikram Vij. Submitted photo.


Vancouver’s third annual Indian Summer Festival isn’t just a cultural celebration — it’s a conversation.

“Very often what people consider a festival is it’s purely celebratory, or it’s purely performative, it’s usually dance or theatre or music,” said Sirish Rao, festival organizer and artistic director of the Indian Summer Arts Society.

And while Indian Summer Festival includes many of those attributes — like its bhangra and Bollywood dance lessons, yoga, food and musical performances — it’s more about “an exchange of ideas.”

“What we really want … is the audience gets up, they’re engaged, they have questions to ask, they want to be part of the dialogue and it’s about ideas,” Rao explained. “It’s more about the dialogue.”

Indian Summer Festival kicks off Thursday night with an opening gala, a culinary tour of South Asia hosted by Vancouver’s Vikram Vij, of Vij’s Restaurant. The tour will feature food from well-known local South Asian restaurants at Carrall Street’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

The festival runs until July 13 with a range of events celebrating arts, ideas and diversity through Vancouver, Canadian and international South Asian talent across music, dance, literature, film, visual arts, food, yoga and wellness.

The events vary from a free movie in Gastown’s Victory Square Park, to a wellness weekend with two days of back-to-back yoga classes, to a discussion about where South Asia is heading, led by Sudeep Chakravarti, a member of the World Future Society, and award-winning Global Television reporter Jas Johal.

The goal of the festival is to cross boundaries — to have that “dialogue” across cultures and traditions to experience something new — hence the festival’s tag line, “Where worlds meet.”

According to Rao, the idea very much stems from his relationship with wife and fellow festival organizer Laura Byspalko — Rao from Bangalore, India, and Byspalko from Ontario. The pair met in India, married and settled in Vancouver. Rather than becoming a cultural “hybrid,” the pair instead embrace their cultural differences.

“We wanted to share that with a bigger audience,” said Byspalko. “It’s celebrating the differences, being comfortable with something being different.”

Related stories:

Local musician and festival performer Tarun Nayar encompasses this with his Vancouver-based Celtic-Punjabi electronic group, Delhi2Dublin.

According to Nayar, his musical tastes are like his background, which is “half-and-half” — his mother from New Brunswick and his father from Punjab.

“I now spend my life using those two sides of myself together on stage,” he said. “It gives it meaning.

“If I’m coming up with music, if it doesn’t somehow express my reality — and my reality is a mix — then it doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning to me.”

“It just happens automatically, those are the sounds that make sense to me.”

Nayar’s performance on Saturday at Indian Summer Festival will take that mix even further as he collaborates with Rajasthan Josh, a group of traditional Rajasthani musicians from northern India.

And this kind of collaboration is what Rao is hoping the festival will spark across Vancouver.

“We’re looking at contemporary Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and we’re looking at contemporary India,” said Rao. “Vancouver especially is kind of really that gateway to Asia.

“Look at who we’re surrounded by from India, from China — we find that really important. We must look at our surroundings and look at the great minds we have here and who we are linked to across the seas.”

For full event listings, visit

Tags: , , , , , , , ,



Indian guru lynched after beheading boy, 5, in suspected child sacrifice

IANS Guwahati – Simmering tension prevailed in Assam after a guru sacrificed a five-year-old boy to appease the God of death and was later lynched by…
Continue Reading »


Officials: Gunmen hijack buses in Pakistan, kill 19 passengers and battle security forces

ABDUL SATTAR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS QUETTA, Pakistan — Around 20 armed men hijacked two buses in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, killed 19 passengers and battled…
Continue Reading »

premature babies

Canadian pediatricians recommend letting 22-week-old preemies die. Should doctors try to save the tiny newborns?

TOM BLACKWELL POSTMEDIA NEWS Measuring just 10 inches long, Carter Lake should never have made it past his first few desperate hours outside the womb….
Continue Reading »


premature babies

Canadian pediatricians recommend letting 22-week-old preemies die. Should doctors try to save the tiny newborns?

TOM BLACKWELL POSTMEDIA NEWS Measuring just 10 inches long, Carter Lake should never have made it past his first few desperate hours outside the womb….
Continue Reading »

Surrey MP Nina Grewal

Tory safety minister praises Surrey MP Nina Grewal for helping make Surrey safer

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW OTTAWA — Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney has thanked his Conservative colleague Nina Grewal, MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, for…
Continue Reading »

Editorial Exchange: Voluntary CPP payments no fix

By Winnipeg Free Press THE CANADIAN PRESS An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published May28: High principles and foreign policy have never been easy…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

sexy legs and breasts

Men prefer brains over big breasts and long legs: Study

IANS London – What do men prefer, beauty or brains? According to a British evolutionary biologist, men prefer intelligence over big breasts and long legs…
Continue Reading »

blood sugar-desi

South Asian people poor at managing diabetes

IANS London – Limited knowledge of diabetes and the belief that the state of their health is out of their control has led to poor…
Continue Reading »

Aga Khan

PM Harper, Aga Khan discuss threat posed by violent extremists

VANCOUVER DESI Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his condolences to the Aga Khan Tuesday for the recent terrorist attack on the Ismaili community in Pakistan. The spiritual…
Continue Reading »

tallest man-India-desi

India’s tallest man spends his days in a cage-like structure posing for photos at an amusement park

VANCOUVER DESI Life is not easy for India’s tallest man Dharmendra Singh, who stands at 8-ft 1-inch, his height being the biggest barrier for his career and…
Continue Reading »

indian summer

It’s so hot in India right now the roads are literally melting

At least 1,100 dead in month-long heatwave THE ASSOCIATED PRESS & NATIONAL POST STAFF It’s so hot in India right now that the streets are…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest

Sunny Leone

Celina Jaitley says Sunny Leone “drove me to seek legal help”

VANCOUVER DESI AND HINDUSTAN TIMES Indo-Canadian actress Sunny Leone, who was living in a house owned by Bollywood actress and activist Celina Jaitley, has been…
Continue Reading »

Ramleela Bollywood

Bollywood babe Deepika Padujone finds rumoured beau Ranveer Singh ‘incredible’ in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’

IANS Mumbai – Deepika Padukone is “blown away” after watching Zoya Akhtar’s film “Dil Dhadakne Do”, and she is especially impressed by rumoured beau Ranveer…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood badshah tweets first look of Salman Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Bollywood gives ‘blockbuster alert’ post ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ teaser

IANS Mumbai – There is style, glamour, action, energetic music and dance — all packed in one. The teaser of Salman Khan’s next “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”…
Continue Reading »