Vancouver’s Indian Summer Festival aims to cross cultural boundaries

Vikram Vij. Submitted photo.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

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 indiansummerfestival.ca.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

Tags: , , , , , , , ,





Featured

Nina Davuluri

Miss America asks US high school to reconsider suspending student who asked her to prom

 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  YORK, Pa. — Miss America is asking a Pennsylvania school district to reconsider the punishment of a high school senior who asked…
Continue Reading »

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

Kirpans, stylized swords worn by initiated Sikh men and women as dictated by  their religious beliefs, are now allowed in embassies. Jason Payne/ PNG

Canada to allow Sikh kirpans in its embassies and missions abroad

JEFF LACROIX-WILSON OTTAWA CITIZEN Eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that kirpans – the ceremonial daggers worn by those of the Sikh…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

File photo: Indian villagers gather near the body of an elephant in a field in the northeastern state of Assam on July 8, 2013. It is believed that the elephant was electrocuted by power lines as they walked through fields of growing rice at night . STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Four elephants die from shoddy electrical wires in Indian forest

VANCOUVER DESI A wild elephant has died after it was electrocuted when it stumbled into low hanging electrical wires in a northeastern Indian forest, according…
Continue Reading »

Indian Lovers Party

Gallery: Weird Indian political party names and symbols

VANCOUVER DESI In a country with over 800 million eligible voters, which symbol you vote for is very important. The largest political parties have simple…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

underage-sex-pregnancy-Britain

Opinion: Britain’s youngest mom — 12-year-old — isn’t a case for the midwife, it’s a case for the police

ALLISON PEARSON THE DAILY TELEGRAPH  A girl aged 12 years and three months became Britain’s youngest mother over the weekend. She was still at primary…
Continue Reading »

nude bath

PETA India urges health ministry to ban sale of animal-tested products

IANS New Delhi – Animal rights group PETA has urged India’s health ministry to ban the marketing and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and household products….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Porn Queen-desi

Sunny Leone to host MTV reality dating show

IANS New Delhi — Indo-Canadian adult film star Sunny Leone is back to where she started her career in Hindi showbiz – the small screen….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra showcases a creation by designer Neeta Lulla on the sixth day of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) summer/resort 2014 in Mumbai on March 16, 2014. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Kom shoot harder than hardest for Priyanka

IANS Mumbai  – Months of turmoil for Mary Kom have been “harder than the hardest” for Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, who plays the title role…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhoothnath Returns screened before Indian president

IANS New Delhi  – Megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s latest film Bhoothnath Returns, a fun-filled film which also highlights the importance of voting, was screened for President…
Continue Reading »