For the first time in the history of Masala, Mehndi, Masti, the organizers Abhishek Mathur, Jyoti and Syma had invited Sri Lankan performers to truly reflect the South Asian diversities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Surely the response was overwhelmingly with people from Sri Lankan community singing along with Bathiya and Santush. While Sri Lankan Canadians enjoyed folk songs in hiphop, rap and other genres of music, the other communities enjoyed the music and the rhythm of the universal language called music. What was also amazing were the similarities in the musics of South Asia. Anusha Sivalingam sang Hindi songs in Tamil. The dancers who accompanied her on the stage was also an additional proof that the culture of South Asian Canadians, our food, our dresses etc are the same with slight variations of course.
While many South Asian shows claim to be “South Asian,” Masala, Mehndi, Masti was the first show this season that came closest to the South Asian event. Afghani performers shared MMM’s stage with other artists. Only if Bangladeshi tunes or dramas were played in there too!
Surely, like many shows this was a free show, run by young professionals – many of who have full time jobs. There is very little doubt that it is difficult to showcase such diversity and it is hard to gather communities, however as we saw in MMM’s this year event, it’s very possible if the organizers make an effort to do so.
Understandably the share of Indo-Canadians among the other South Asian communities is larger as the population of Indo-Canadians is more than any other South Asian community. However, the burden to bring together all South Asian communities rests on organizers. By the same token public as well as sponsors (especially all levels of government) should demand the representation of all South Asian communities if the show is to be called a “South Asian” festival.