“This was the largest crowd we have ever sung to”, said a member of Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s band, who performed in front of over 30,000 fans this last Saturday at 7th annual Mosaic – South Asian Heritage Festival of Mississauga held at Celebration square.
The night before, Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s very own mayor for over 30 years had acknowledged the positive change that Mosaic has brought to this sixth largest city in Canada. She couldn’t stop counting the contributions of South Asian community and what it has accomplished in the fields of arts and culture and how it shares its heritage and welcomes all to enjoy it.
Flanked by the members of parliament, provincial parliament, her City Council, major sponsors and media, this was her 7th year cutting the Mosaic cake and ribbon as officially announced the festival opening on Friday evening. She had just emerged from the Mosaic Gala at the prestigious Art Gallery of Mississauga and was anxiously awaiting the appearance of Red Baraat, the brass band from Brooklyn, NY. And appear they did, as a marching band with a wedding procession in India or Pakistan, people dancing and singing in front just as they did back home. They were happy to see MPP Dipeka Damerla amongst the dancers who later informed everyone that she volunteered for Mosaic only three years ago. Other guests included HarinderTakhar MPP minister for government services, Senator Salma Ataullah Jan, Brad Butt MP, Bonnie Crombie, Jim Tovey, Ron Starr, Chris Fonseca, Harpreet Sethi of Radisson Plaza Mississauga and Rob Freeman the ED of Art Gallery of Mississauga.
Over the years Mosaic has worked hard to build strong relationships with industry leaders in media and with major Canadian corporations. This year`s festival was presented by nofrills with General Motors of Canada being the Gold Sponsors and RBC the Silver Sponsor. Engro Foods and Svitair were two Community Partners for the 2012 edition. Mosaic is the only South Asian festival that has been able to attract and retain these big corporations and add to the list year after year. This also provides Mosaic with cash resources needed to put up such highest quality shows as Shafqat Amanat Ali this year.
“We have worked hard to create this most amazing experience for our visitors who not only came from across Ontario and Canada but also from down South from Connecticut, Detroit, Chicago and New York”, said Asma A Mahmood, a visual artist and owner of Promenade Gallery at Lakeshore Road and the Chair of non profit organization that presents the festival. “This was the greatest line up that South Asians have ever seen in North American continent”, said a gleaming AnuVittalthe top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award winner Festival Director for Mosaic. Mosaic 2012 presented a film festival that screened Oscar winning ”Saving Face” and selections from Cannes and tiff, an indie music festival featuring 18 bands, Desi’s Rock featuring 5 South Asian rock bands, food festival, vendors bazaar and “NachhangeSaariRaat” amateur dance competition. It is estimated that close to 70,000 people attended the festival this year.
Mosaic is done for another year, but the impression it has left is a lasting one. Audiences this year got to witness the biggest and best lineup the seven-year old community festival has ever offered. For four days in Celebration Square tens of thousands of people from all over the world shared in the festivities at the South Asian Heritage Festival hosted by Canadian Community Arts Initiative. Thursday night opened with an amazing exclusive fashion show featuring local women of substance. Red Baraat took to the stage on Friday with an energetic and unique performance that had the whole square dancing. The highlight of the festival was headliner ShafqatAmanat Ali, who packed the Square to capacity with an extended set that still managed to leave the crowd wanting more. Fans of the annual festival are sure to return to Mosaic next year to see what organizer will plan to top the explosively successful 2012 weekend.