Archive | Festivals

Indian businessman gifts cars, homes and jewelry to 1,000 employees, calls it ‘social business’

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Thursday marks Diwali, India’s festival of lights, which is a lot like Christmas in the United States. Usually Indians give one another small gifts during Diwali – brightly packed boxes of nuts and sweets, as well as cash and clothing. Some employers give bonuses, too.

But this year Savjibhai Dholakia, chairman of Hari Krishna Exports, celebrated Diwali in a big way — giving cars, apartments and jewelry as festival bonuses to hundreds of his best employees. His generosity set social media abuzz Monday; the jeweler gave 491 employees Fiat cars worth $8,000 each and jewelry to 600 more. A lucky 200 or so even received two-bedroom apartments.

Dholakia is flamboyant but also deeply grateful.

This year, his employees, whom he respectfully calls “diamond engineers,” helped the company reach more than $1 billion in diamond exports, he said. His company exports polished diamonds and jewelry to 72 countries, including the United States.

“My employees worked very hard,” Dholakia said in a telephone interview. “I had to reward them accordingly. I could not hoard all the profits, could I?”

Dholakia, who is in his 50s, is no Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey. He isn’t even a blue-chip industrialist like billionaire Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man. Dholakia is a fourth-grade dropout who began polishing diamonds at age 12 as an apprentice under his uncle. He started his own business in 1992 and now lives with his three brothers in a large joint family compound of 28 people.

He first began giving cars to his employees 18 years ago during Diwali. He started with three. Last year, he gave away 100 cars. Then came 2014. It has been a very, very good year.

The jeweler sees the gifts as kind of the company’s in-house loyalty and worker-evaluation program.

“What I do is social business,” Dholakia explained. “I am not a socialist, I am a businessman. But I don’t spend money on charity for strangers. I do social work for the people who toil for my company. I share the profit with the people who created the profit.”

Employee Mukesh Parmar, 36, usually polishes gems with a “calm and peaceful mind.” But on Monday, he nearly lost it when he got his first car.

“If you never even thought of owning a car, and you suddenly get it as a gift, how would you feel?” Parmar asked. “My mother has been excitedly calling friends and neighbors all day and telling them, ‘We have a car, we have a car!’ ”

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“Sithi Nakh”, An Indigenous Style Environment Festival Among Newars

Posted on 06 June 2014 by admin

Uttam Makaju


Newars, the ancient inhabitants of Kathmandu valley, have been preserving the cultural heritage through celebrating different festivals as it was hundreds years ago. Newar culture has diversity in their society. Similarly, Newari cuisine also has diversity in their taste. The social importance of food in Newar culture is readily apparent. Each Newar festival holds different kinds of food and connected with climate, health and nutrition.

Among the various festivals, ‘Sithi Nakha” is one such festival which pays special focus on environment. It is celebrated at the onset of rainy season and paddy plantation. This festival falls on the sixth day of bright fortnight of Jestha (May or June).

The legend is that on this day we bid farewell to summer and welcome rainy season. This festival is devoted to Lord Kumar’s birthday, the son of Shiva. So it is also called “Kumar Khasthi.”

 Kumar is the Hindu God who sits at the main entrance of each house in the form of eight petal lotus carved stone (Pikhalakhu) and gets first offering before lord Ganesh. Kumar Khasthi is also the last day of the year to worship ancestral god, which is mandatory to Newar clan each year.

On the eve of “Sithi Nakha” Newar people make special dishes to offer the God. They prepare Newari dishes, specially “Bara “(pancake ) made of black lentil, green lentil, small peas, rice flour (Chatamari). Legumes like kidney beans, black eyed bean along with other dishes of Newari feast like bitten rice, meat and so on are prepared on this day.

Another special item of the festival is “Shattu” ( a fried wheat flour mixed with sugar or brown sugar). It is believed that different kinds of lentils and legumes bring lot of energy in the body which is accumulated for the upcoming paddy plantation work. Paddy planting work is considered as very hard, calling it “Sinaajya” (working hard like that you feel almost die) in Newar language.

The tradition and festivalmlinks itself with social and environmental awareness aspect apart from religious aspect. On this day, Newar people clean water sources, wells, stone spouts, ponds and surroundings of their respective communities. This shows the prime respect to the natural resources, specially water sources and its periphery.

It is their belief that if you do not clean water sources on this day , there will be paucity of water throughout the year and diseases may spread.

Realizing the festival’s core theme as an environmental aspect and sustainability, Nepalese government has decided to observe it in a great manner on June 4th and 5th, 2014 in coincidence with “World Environment Day”, which falls on June 5th. UN Habitat, an organization dedicated to promote environmentally sustainable shelters, has also supported the festival for its indigenously architected environmental sustenance activities.

‘Newar families residing around Greater Toronto Area and other parts of Canada celebrate this festival within their family members”, states a member of Canadian Newa Guthi (CNG), an organization dedicated to preserve, practice and showcase Newar culture in Canada.

It is the objective of Canadian Newa Guthi to inspire, create awareness, showcase and celebrate different Newar culture and festivals in a time honoured manner in GTA and other parts of Canada.

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Be my Valentine?

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

Valentine’s Day is that time of the year when one can be openly sappy and hopelessly cheesy. For those who are single, it can be a singular day of love-bashing and overall hatred for the idea of love and romance. Either way, Valentine’s Day is on most people’s radars as a pretty special day.


For readers who like to know the history behind holidays, the namesake of the celebration is St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers from the era of the Roman Empire who was martyred for the cause of Christianity. Today, however, Valentine’s Day is mostly about exchanging gifts, writing the occasional poem, and often proposing to one’s beloved. Here’s how some South Asian youth in our community feel about Valentine’s Day and how they plan to celebrate it.


Anthony Lal from Brampton views Valentine’s Day as a special day. “I think it should be a day reserved for your significant other he says”. Does he have any plans for his significant other, I ask. “Oh no, I’m not doing anything. But my brother, he and his girlfriend have been dating for 10 years; they were high school sweethearts since Grade 10. Now even though they’re living in different provinces, he’s going to do the best he can, like he’s going to have flowers sent to her and all”. That is really is really cute, I cannot help but add. “Yes”, he agrees, “my brother is set in his life”.

Azmeree Chowdhury from Scarborough has a slightly different view of Valentine’s Day, emphasizing the importance of love over the now commercialized holiday. “Valentine’s Day is a small excuse to be loved and give love. If you truly love someone, everyday should be a Valentine’s Day, don’t let the Valentine’s Day be the reason, instead make the special one the reason for your Valentine’s days. Gifts and surprises don’t express as much as your love and support does. Be there for that special one always”, she says. Now there’s a philosophy to live by.

Raj Patel from Oakville shares his thoughts on what Valentine’s Day means to him. “Well, at the moment let’s just say I’m “dealing” with someone so frankly speaking this year Valentine’s Day isn’t anything special. However in my past relationships, Valentine’s Day has been a meaningful day. It brought me and the girls I was with closer. I guess you could put it that way, a day that brings people closer. In general it is a romantic and sensual day; people get even closer than they previously were. Thank god I’m ‘single'”, he laughs. So what does a “single” guy like himself have planned for the day? “I wish I was doing something for Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately the girl I wanted to spend time with isn’t around town anymore. That’s where Skype comes into play”, he winks.















Payal from Mississauga is a real romantic. “Valentine’s Day to me is a day dedicated to love. Lovers should celebrate everyday in my opinion but Valentine’s Day is an extra day to get extra spoiled and do something extra extravagant! I think it’s nice to see all the romantic things people buy and do! It is a cute day to see how much people care and to what extent they go to show their feelings towards their special someone”. What are Payal’s plans for the day? “Personally, no big plans. Just relaxing with friends, eating chocolate and kicking back with classic movies”.






From the responses above, there seems to be a general consensus amongst South Asian youth that Valentine’s Day is an important day and whether you’re single or have been in a long-term relationship, it all comes down to celebrating love. For readers who are still wondering how to celebrate the day with their special someone, take a cue from Payal and do something extravagant or go by Azmeree’s philosophy and make every day Valentine’s Day. If your special someone happens to be living in a different city, make it a Skype date as Raj plans to do. Whatever it is that you choose, do it with care and love because that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about. Don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is on Feb 14!


BY Nazifa Islam



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February 14th…What’s it all about?

Posted on 10 February 2012 by admin

Akbar Kara

Chris Bharat

Daanish Dhansi

Jennifer Vaz

Junaid Alam

Muhammad Umair Butt



February 14th is a date that comes around once every year. It’s special to some and not so much to others.

Nahid Hemani

Neil Ladva

Priyanka Chandragupthan


Shafiq Murji & Elysha Daya

Shweta Nair

Everyone has an opinion about Valentine’s Day and how they feel towards the day. Do guys and girls have different views about this day? The only way to find that out is to ask people. So, I decided to ask a few people;


1) What is your opinion of Valentine’s Day?

2) What do you like to do on Valentine’s Day?

3) Do you have any expectations? If so, what are they?

4) Do you date within your own religion or other religions?

5) Do you feel like Valentine’s Day is superficial?


Let’s start with what the girls had to say.




1) On Valentine’s Day, I enjoy spending it with good company. Whether that means my significant other, my best friend, or my sister, but I prefer to spend time with that special someone to let them know exactly how much I appreciate them.


2) On Valentine’s Day I like to receive gifts. It makes me feel special like my birthday.


3) If I feel that that person has a good heart, a warm personality and above all respects me, then I feel that religion should not be the reason for us not to be together.


4) Yes I tend to feel that Valentine’s Day is superficial, however it helps fuel the economy a lot. Flower stores and Hallmark make lucrative amounts of money.




It’s great that there is a day for everyone to express their love towards their near and dear ones; however, I feel that it’s overrated at times, and yes, superficial as if you do love someone, you should be expressing that love for them every day. Not just once a year. I personally do not expect anything extravagant as it’s pretty clear to those who know me that this is yet another day. Every day should feel like Valentine’s Day if you’re with that special someone.




1)  To me Valentine’s Day is a made up holiday. I don’t think that love should be celebrated on one day of the year full of expectations; it should be celebrated when you want to, as much as you want to. I think in some cases it takes away from “real” romance in a relationship. I don’t hate it, I enjoy it sometimes, but it’s not the most important day of the year either.

2) It depends where I am, if I have someone special in my life. I don’t live in the same city as my partner, so I probably will celebrate it on a different day, nothing planned.


3) I don’t expect anything


4) Usually my own religion but I haven’t restricted myself to that.


5) It can depend on how it’s celebrated and who you are as a person. The holiday itself with all the decorations, chocolates, candy etc, it can be made very genuine, but it can also just be a day you spend more money like most holidays.



1) I prefer keeping it simple. A good movie or a candle light dinner at home fits perfectly for me.

2) I like art and I know a lot of work goes behind it. So on this occasion I would love my partner to make something for me rather than purchase anything. Nothing triumphs handmade presents.


3) I personally haven’t been on a look out but if I were, religion would be last on my list.


4) Yes, I definitely think Valentine’s Day is superficial. Firstly, true love can be expressed all day, every day. It does not need to be validated by shallow gifts. Secondly, every company seeks ways to exploit customers all in the name of “Valentine’s Day” and last but not the least the timing could not be worse. You’ve over spent for Christmas and New Year and you’re starring at the calendar because February 14th is around the corner.




1) Valentine’s Day is a day to re-kindle and to remind that person as to why they chose you. It’s very hard now-a-days to get a little alone time because of the stresses of work and etc.


2) There really isn’t anything specific I do for Valentine’s Day. I usually just spend it with the people I love.


3) As cheesy as this may sound, I only expect to spend Valentine’s Day with the people I love. Even if that’s not possible, I always make it work with people around me. I’m always in for a surprise.


4) Valentine’s Day isn’t superficial. Though media takes advantage of this and uses it to promote and advertise their merchandise, there is a history behind Valentine’s Day. The history is the reason why we celebrate it.



Well, what did the boys have to say? Let’s see, shall we?



Valentine’s Day is a day to cherish every moment you had with the one you love and have the most feelings for. I like to hang out with the one that's special to me. Or take a girl out that I may like. I don't expect much, if I was in a relationship it may be a good time to bust the 3 words if it's the right time in the relationship.
Yes I do date girls that are different religions than me. I'm not big on religion so none of it really matters to me.
Valentine's Day was created to show affection to the person you love but it's only superficial to those that don't care about it.




1) I think Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, but sometimes it is overdone.


2) On Valentine’s Day I would like to spend a night in with a special girl.


3) I expect the girl to appreciate whatever is planned.


4) To me religion doesn’t matter


5) I think Valentine’s Day is sometimes a little superficial.




1) I do not mind VDAY but I wouldn’t just restrict myself to that specific day to show my emotions/expressions towards my girlfriend, I try to show it throughout the year.


2) Go for a nice dinner then come back home and watch a movie together.


3) I don’t expect much just because it’s V-day, but yes I do expect the same feelings that I would get throughout the year from my girlfriend.


4) I prefer my own dating someone of my own religion, but If I connect with someone outside then I would not mind dating her.

5)  VDAY is not superficial but again I just do not like people who go all out to show their feelings on this one day. 



There are two ways at looking at Valentine’s Day, first way is it's a special day to celebrate the love and affection you have for your significant other, to show them how much you value them and how much they mean to you. Second way of looking at Valentine’s Day is that over the recent years it has become more "commercial" like every other holiday, however why just set one day aside when you can show your loved one small daily tokens and affections of how much you care and love them in different ways, shapes and forms, the little things add up to the big picture. 

I personally like to be in a good company and have a good time regardless if I have someone special or not in my life. If I'm single and its Valentine’s Day then I will spread the love and affection to my family and close friends as well as upon the odd stranger, You Only Live Once so might as well make the best of it.

Religion is not a factor; it’s who the person is and how your chemistry is with them. Why limit your personal happiness and love by excluding certain religions! The one soul mate may either be of the same religion as you or completely different. It’s who you are that makes the difference.




1) Valentine’s Day is more of a single awareness day. It’s one thing when two single people bond together on Valentine’s Day or become closer. Otherwise for the most part, holidays like these make a person more anxious to be with someone or in other words; make them wait for the ‘right one.’

2) I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. If I did have a girlfriend or someone I loved, I wouldn’t wait till Valentine’s Day to express my love. Everyday should be similar to Valentine’s Day in a relationship.

3) I do not expect much from myself on this heavily over rated holiday. As for others; it benefits them in one way to approach someone they really admired. Then again, why wait on THIS day to tell that special someone about how you love them?


4) I haven’t had much experience with dating but judging by my past, there has been no girl from my religion or even culture. Things may change very soon but yeah, brace yourself!

5) For decades the Valentine’s Day trend has been going on, so all people will do is be more ‘romantic’? The usual flowers and chocolate, candle light dinners. Rest ashore, I do NOT mean everyone, but those that know they do this.



Valentine’s Day is an awesome day to “express” our love to our other half. But to be honest it is all bogus. One day symbolizing what you feel for another person is dumb. V-day is just symbolic for consumption and mass spending.


I do not expect much other than that lots of false lies are made to each other because those who truly are in love do not need one day to remind themselves.

I am not racist or anything…but I prefer my own culture and religion to avoid the drama and conflict. And my preference is that too.


Yes it is very superficial. This is just my opinion.





It seems like everyone has mixed thoughts/feelings on Valentine’s Day. While speaking to all these individuals, I also had a chance to talk to a one couple about their view on Valentine’s Day. I wanted to see whether they both had similar views or different ones about this day. Here’s what they had to say.




1) I think Valentine’s Day is an overrated holiday.


2) The same thing I would usually do for that day.


3) I expect everything to go as it normally would. I actually informed my boyfriend from our first valentine’s day that I do not celebrate it at all, so to not plan anything or turn it into a big deal.

4) I date within my own religion.


5) I think it is very superficial. It just puts pressure on males to impress their girlfriends, and every year go over and beyond what they did the year prior to. The people who aren’t in relationships feel excluded from this “holiday” and it is overall just unnecessary. Love isn’t determined once a year, it is something that should be celebrated everyday- and not with jewellery or flowers or chocolate, just by spending time together.




1) I think love should be celebrated every day.


2) I treat Valentine’s Day as if it is a regular day.


3) I do not expect anything.


4) I date within my own religion


5)  I think it is very superficial. It is just a scam for people to spend money on gifts. Real gifts come through showing the person that you care, respect and would do anything for them. And those gifts should be given every day, not once a year.


From the answers above, both genders have similar views on Valentine’s Day. And luckily as a couple, Elysha and Shafiq have similar views as well.


And lastly what do I think? Well, I believe that Valentine’s Day should be every day. I think that people should express their love for one another daily. Whether it be to their mother, father, significant other, brother, sister, friends or anyone else, it should be expressed daily. There need not be just one day to do so. Having Valentine’s Day is like saying it’s the only day to express your love for someone and if you miss out on it you have to wait till the year after. On Valentine’s Day I like to treat the day as any other normal day. Yet I still do wish people Happy Valentine’s Day. I do not have any expectations for this day, but if someone does ask me to be their Valentine or does express their love for me more than usual on this day I do not mind. As for dating I do not have a preference on religion because you can’t help who you fall in love with. At times I do feel Valentine’s Day is superficial. The ways in which it is advertised on television, through advertisements, television shows and in stores makes it very superficial.


In all, everyone seems to have their own views and opinions on Valentine’s Day. But for those who do believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO EVERYONE!!!

By Aabida Dhanji




Valentine’s Day and the Interracial Barriers

By: Gagan Batra


“I guess you could call my parents strict. They never let me go out with boys unless they knew really well who they were.”

“ … I just grew up thinking that it should be a huge day in my life where I go to a romantic place where my husband and I could be alone and just enjoy each other’s company.”

“…We do not do any big celebrations. We enjoy dinner together as we have for many years of our marriage.”


The excitement of the New Year has passed. January went by just as quickly as it came. Now that it is February, people are getting ready to rejoice and show appreciation for those who are important to them. First comes Valentine’s Day, and then Family Day follows. It is a time when people celebrate the important loved one’s in their lives and give thanks for having them around.

Love is in the air. You can feel it when you walk down the street. All the couples walking hand in hand, basking in each other’s company. It is evident that Valentine’s Day is on its way. Since as long as is remembered, we’ve been exposed to a certain glorified perception of what ensues on Valentine’s Day. It is expected that big, romantic gestures are to accompany the occasion. It is up to the person, though, how they decide to show their affection. Whether it is through an extravagant, well planned scheme, or through a modest plan, people’s interpretations of what constitutes a good date differ.

The coming of Valentine’s Day brings up an important topic: what are the similarities and differences in expectations associated with different couples. Interracial couples are an interesting group to focus on because a lot of the time, one partner may have been exposed to Valentine’s Day and its importance  greatly than the other.

My notion was that individuals who were brought up in a more Western environment as opposed to their partners from Eastern environments would have differing opinions about Valentine’s Day. This idea was put to the test after interviewing three different couples about their thoughts on the occasion. At the respondents’ request, in order to conceal their identities, they will not be referred to throughout this article by their actual names.

Twenty one year old Nina comes from an Indian household. She has been brought up practicing the Hindu religion, as has the rest of her family. Although she was born in Canada, her parents retained their Indian heritage and held it to a high regard.

“I guess you could call my parents strict. They never let me go out with boys unless they knew really well who they were.”

Upon asking whether she has ever been in a romantic relationship she affirmed that she has been in two. The interesting and somewhat expected part of this is that she did not tell her family of either of her romantic relationships.

“My boyfriend right now comes from a Caucasian family. I’ve met and stayed with his parents on several occasions.”

Nina explained that she is unexcited for Valentine’s Day. “I’ve never made a big deal about it before, I don’t see why I’d start now just because I have a boyfriend.”

The interesting thing is that Nina and her significant other have very differing opinions about the upcoming occasion.

“Since I can remember, my dad’s been getting my mom flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s and they’ve always gone out and done something together for the day. I’ve never had anyone to share the day with so I want to make this year special.”

In the case of Nina and her significant other, there was a difference in upbringing. Nina was not exposed to Valentine’s Day at all while she was growing up, whereas her boyfriend has memories of it from a very young age. This could be what has led them to have formulated differing views about Valentine’s Day altogether.

In the case of forty two year old Pamela and her forty six year old husband, Raj, there have also been differing opinions about Valentine’s Day.

Pamela comes from a Scottish family and has been living in Canada for the past thirty seven years. Her husband, Raj, is from India and had come to Canada almost twenty five years ago. Although Pamela and Raj have been married for over twenty years, they still share opposing views about the meaning of Valentine’s Day.

Pamela explains that “Valentine’s Day has always been an important tradition in our house. My mum would tell me of all the wonderful things my father did for her and I just grew up thinking that it should be a huge day in my life where I go to a romantic place where my husband and I could be alone and just enjoy each other’s company.”

Upon asking what her usual Valentine’s Day has looked like since she has been married, Pamela retorted with, “They’ve been kind of quiet. It’s hard to maintain the same traditions as your own family, especially since my husband comes from such a different background. Especially with kids, it’s difficult for us to make time.”

Pamela explains that she no longer expects the huge, romantic gestures from her husband. “After a while, you get so comfortable with the person, that Valentine’s Day is just another day. I now know that he probably didn’t miss out on much given that he wasn’t exposed to Valentine’s until moving away from India.”

There was one interracial couple that I had spoken to where both members expressed their content at the upcoming occasion.

Ruth explained that she and her husband had just celebrated their fifty fifth wedding anniversary last week. Ruth was born and raised in England, whereas her husband is from Pakistan. Although both of them now live in Pakistan, Ruth explains that they are excited when the time for Valentine’s Day comes near.

After fifty five years of marriage, one would expect a couple to abandon some of their earlier traditions. However, Ruth explains that every year since their marriage, her husband has bought her flowers and cooked a subtle dinner for the two of them.

“He became more aware of what Valentine’s Day represented after a few years of marriage. Back then, Valentine’s Day was not celebrated in Pakistan. He used to think it was just about the expense of what he had planned. Then, he came to know that it is not about the money, it is about time together. We do not do any big celebrations. We enjoy dinner together as we have for many years of our marriage.”

It is evident from looking at these three couples that the importance given to Valentine’s Day is not necessarily dependent on gender, age or even fully on ethnicities. In the cases of Nina and Pamela, both of the individuals from eastern backgrounds were those who did not give as much importance to Valentine’s Day as their western partners. However, it seems as though a couple’s outlook on this romantic holiday is based on their own experiences and attitudes. In Ruth’s case, even though her husband is from Pakistan and they both reside there, they preserve and embrace their Valentine’s Day traditions.



Mixed Unions in Canada

South Asians Less likely to be involved in mixed unions – Stats Canada

Mixed unions, including both married and common-law couples, reflect one aspect of the diversity of families. They vary according to characteristics such as generational status of the spouses or partners, their birthplace and their particular visible minority group.

The census enumerated 289,400 mixed unions in 2006, up 33.1% from 2001 and more than five times the 6.0% increase for all couples.

Of the total number of mixed unions, about 247,600 couples were comprised of one person who belonged to a visible minority group and someone who was not a visible minority. These made up 3.3% of all couples in Canada. The remaining 41,800 mixed unions consisted of couples in which both members belonged to a different visible minority group. They accounted for 0.6% of all couples.

In terms of generational status, the proportion of mixed unions rises with the length of time spent in Canada. Among first generation visible minority Canadians (those born outside of Canada), 12% were in mixed union couples. For second generation Canadians who were members of a visible minority group the proportion in a mixed union was 51%. It reached 69% for third generation visible minority Canadians.

There was also variation across specific visible minority groups.

Compared with other couples, a slightly higher proportion of mixed unions included children living at home. In addition, about 10% of mixed union couples had at least one child under age two and none older than five years of age in the home, compared with 5.6% of other couples.

This reflects the fact that people in mixed unions were younger and, therefore, more likely to be at their life-cycle stage of having young children at home.

Mixed unions are an urban phenomenon. In 2006, 5.1% of all couples who lived in a census metropolitan area were in mixed unions, compared with 1.4% of couples who lived outside these areas. In Vancouver, 8.5% of couples were in mixed unions, the highest proportion among metropolitan areas.


Visible minorities of South Asian or Chinese origin were least likely to be involved in a mixed union, according to Statistics Canada. For instance, there were more than 327,000 South Asian couples in Canada in 2006, but only 12.7 per cent were in a union with a white person or someone of another visible minority group. Sociology experts say one major reason is that those communities are so large, and sometimes insular, that members are more likely to marry someone of the same ethnic background.

Fifty-one per cent of second-generation Canadians (the children of immigrants) who identified as visible minorities were in a mixed union, compared to 12 per cent of immigrants. The rate was even higher among third-generation visible minorities, of whom 69 per cent were in racially mixed relationships.


  • Chinese: 56,000 or 9.5 %
  • Black: 55,200 or 25.5 %
  • South Asian: 41,500 or 6.8 %
  • Latin American: 40,000 or 30.7 %
  • Filipino: 35,600 or 19.8 %
  • Arab/West Asian: 26,500 or 14.3 %
  • Japanese: 22,200 or 59.7 %
  • Southeast Asian: 18,100 or 18.4 %
  • Korean: 6,800 or 10.8 %
  • Multiple groups: 29,400 or 41.3 %

Source: Stats Canada


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Thai Pongal Festival: Internationally Celebrated and Sometimes Unfamiliar

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

Now that the New Year has begun, people have time to focus on other festivals and holidays coming up in the near future. The remarkable Thai Pongal festival is soon approaching, on January 14th and people are preparing for the celebrations. Every year, people from Sri Lanka rejoice in the Thai Pongal festival to welcome the first day of the month of Thai in the Tamil calendar. While Thai is the first month of the Tamil calendar, pongal is a traditional sweet dish eaten on this day.

The Thai Pongal festival is unique in that it is independent of any one religious faith and is celebrated yearly by the Tamil population around the world wishing to take part in it. Thai Pongal is a festival that promotes unity and togetherness of the community. People pay their thanks to food producers and the farmers give their gratitude to the Sun and farm animals, and other factors that provide them a successful harvest.

After speaking with a number of Tamil individuals about the traditions and celebrations accompanying Thai Pongal, I have gained some valuable insight on the intricacies of the festival.

In comparing the festival of lights, Diwali, to the Thai Pongal festival, there seem to be some striking similarities. While Diwali is a time to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, Thai Pongal is a time to celebrate and give thanks to the cattle and other farm animals that provide us with food and vegetation.

Like Diwali and many other cultural festivals, Thai Pongal brings families together and focuses on the unity of people. Love and peace are central themes of holidays.

However, there is a difference in the traditions revolving around Diwali and Thai Pongal. During Diwali, there are sweets, decorating of homes, card playing and fireworks to commemorate the inner light within people. While Thai Pongal does include the traditional sweets and decoration of the homes, there are no fireworks going off on this day.

Nineteen year old Lawsan Thanapalan explained a lot about the Pongal tradition. “Thai Pongal is just the first part of the festival. It is followed by Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. On each day, we usually get up, shower, wear new clothes and go to the temple to offer prayers. We’re traditionally supposed to go to our backyards and boil a special kind of rice called ‘pongal’. We’re supposed to watch the water rise and pray to the sun and give thanks for a good harvesting season. We celebrate the sun’s movement. We share the food amongst each other and offer some to the sun to show our gratitude.” Thanapalan explained that the purpose of the festival is to celebrate new opportunities and a fresh start. “The prayers are led by the seniors, so in my case, by my grandma.”

Like Thanapalan, twenty year old Lisana Nithiananthan explained the significance of Thai Pongal by defining the role that family plays in its tradition. “After we make and offer the pongal dish to the Gods and do the prayers, we all go to the temple together. Then comes time for a family get-together.” After pressing the question of what Thai Pongal means to her, Nithiananthan explained that “it is like a Tamil Thanksgiving. You pray for a good year of harvest and thank the Gods and animals who make it fruitful.”

Given the information provided by Thanapalan and Nithiananthan, the unifying aspects of the celebration are clear. Families and communities join each other for a day of prayer, cooking, cleaning and eating.  Since Thai Pongal is not a religious holiday, it is open to all who wish to observe it and it is not discriminatory based on different beliefs that one may hold.

While Thanapalan and Nithiananthan have extensive knowledge of the traditions and celebrations revolving around the Thai Pongal festival, others do not have the same familiarity with their culture. Twenty year old, Shane Balasingam explains that he does not know much about Thai Pongal or any of its traditions. “My family doesn’t really celebrate it”, explained Balasingam. Upon asking for more information about the Sri Lankan holiday, Shane replied with “I don’t actually know anything about it, either. My family neither celebrated nor talked about it.”

Like Balasingam, twenty year old Sabeena Santhirakumaran revealed that she does not know too much about the Thai Pongal festival. Upon asking her about family traditions she may have been exposed to or any general information she has about the day, Santhirakumaran had nothing to say. Instead, she said “I don’t know much about it. Ask someone else.”

The question arises; do people know more about traditions associated with their nationalities if they are from families that take part in those traditions? It has definitely been something to think about when speaking with these four Sri Lankan individuals. Both Thanapalan and Nithiananthan had a great understanding of the meaning of the Thai Pongal festival and the traditions revolving around it. These two individuals explained that their families took part in the customs of the Sri Lankan festival. While Thanapalan and Nithiananthan had knowledge about the festival, both Balasingam and Santhirakumaran had little to no insight on the traditions that take place on Thai Pongal, or what the festival is about.

Speaking with these four individuals has made me think, are there aspects of my culture that my family has not celebrated that have led me to obliviousness about certain holidays? Ask yourself the question, how involved is your family in events associated with your nationality? Does your family’s lack of involvement in these occasions affect your overall understanding of your culture? If your family or you yourself do not have knowledge about a particular part of your culture, you do not have to continue to be unaware. Do the research, learn about different traditions and festivals; what you learn may actually surprise and interest you!

By Gagan Batra


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Navratri Celebrations: Mari Mahisagarni

Posted on 18 October 2011 by admin

Droves of people headed toward Ontario Soccer Centre on Saturday evening to celebrate Navratri. ‘Navratri’ means ‘nine nights’. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals. All of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her various forms.

Navratri holds special significance for Gujratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season.

Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival. And no wonder mean and women alike carried dandyas as they walked into brightly lit soccer field.

Swar Sadhana Music Lovers Club put together this very colourful festival in Vaughan.

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Our Shared Responsibility: Build Future Worthy of Our Families’ Dreams

Posted on 31 August 2011 by admin

“If I were to talk to those people who have the greatest stake in the future — mothers and fathers –  and ask them what they want for their families, their answers would all be the same. They would say, “I want good schools for my kids. I want good healthcare for everybody in the family. I want a strong economy that supports good jobs. I want to live in a world that’s at peace. I want to be able to practice my faith with a sense of security. I want to live in a community that is accepting and uplifting.”




Ontarians embrace the religious and cultural diversity that breathes life into our communities — diversity that is the foundation of our success. Muslim Canadians are a vital part of our cherished mosaic, and have done much to enhance the social, cultural and economic fabric of our province.


Eid-ul-Fitr is a very important event on the Islamic calendar. It is a time to cultivate a spirit of peace, fellowship and forgiveness. It is also a time to focus on the value of friendship and family relationships, the importance of charity and of helping those in need — and to appreciate how fortunate we are to be Ontarians.



It has been my fundamental belief that here in Ontario we have been commissioned by history to lead and to stand as a shining example, not just for our people, but for the world, which sometimes despairs of our ability to rise above our differences and to celebrate what it is that we have in common. So thank you for celebrating your faith, living up to your teachings, your precepts, and your understandings. It’s important, again, to all of us that we in Ontario find accommodation and find strength in our differences.



There will always be times when that diversity and our differences create barriers, whether in the workplace or in our communities. That is why our government has worked hard to provide all of us tools to overcome those barriers.  We have strengthened our Human Rights system by streamlining the complaints process and setting up the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, which provides crucial legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who believe they have experienced discrimination.  The Centre’s services range from legal assistance in filing an application at the Tribunal to legal representation on human rights applications.  These are offered in many languages. Together, we have come a long way to ensure that our diversity truly is our strength.


All the world’s great faiths and all the world’s wisest people have been telling us something for thousands of years now and sometimes we fail to heed an important lesson. And that lesson is this: what’s most important is not the colour of our skin; it is not the language that we speak; it is not the wealth that we accumulate; it is not the power that we wield; it is not the traditions that we cherish; it’s not the culture that we inherit. What’s most important is what we have in common. It’s our humanity. And if I were to talk to those people who have the greatest stake in the future — mothers and fathers –  and ask them what they want for their families, their answers would all be the same. They would say, “I want good schools for my kids. I want good healthcare for everybody in the family. I want a strong economy that supports good jobs. I want to live in a world that’s at peace. I want to be able to practice my faith with a sense of security. I want to live in a community that is accepting and uplifting.”


That’s our shared responsibility in Ontario – to build something that is worthy of the dreams that we have for our families. I hope you have a wonderful Eid.

By Ontario Premier the Honourable Dalton McGuinty

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Janamashtmi at Hindu Heritage Center

Posted on 24 August 2011 by admin

Krishna Janmashtami marks the birthday of Lord Krishna, and is one of the most celebrated events in the Hindu calendar around the globe.

Lords Vishnu’s eight avatar as Lord Krishna believed to have been born in Mathura and this year it is celebrated on August 21st, 2011. Lord Krishna’s birth signifies peace, destruction of evil and led us to salvation.

Lord Krishna’s devotees worship and celebrate his greatness all over the world.   Worldwide renowned Shri Mridul Krishan Shastri ji visited Hindu Heritage Centre in Mississauga to celebrate Krishna Janmashtami and performed Shrimad Bhagwat Katha.

Hindus across GTA came to be a part of celebration and rejoice Lord Krishna’s birth. Furthermore devotees of Lord Krishna at this event got an opportunity to connect with Lord Krishna himself and witness reenactment of Lord Krishna’s divine birth.

Lord Krishna was born to Vasudev and Devki, however scared from a prophecy, Lord Krishna was held captive along with his parents by Devki’s brother Kansa. It was then Vasudev was set free by God, in order to keep the prophecy true and highlight the end of evil by destruction of Kansa, by Lord Krishna himself. Lord Krishna took an avatar of an everyday individual, and his life consisted of many significant events which emphasized Lord Krishna’s cleverness, moral and intelligence. Such events in Lord Krishna’s life exemplify that trickiest and toughest problems can be solved through logic and intelligence. Hence Krishna Janmashtami highlights as one of the critical events in Hindu calendar and marks the triumph of good.


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‘South Asian’ Festivals

Posted on 24 August 2011 by admin

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.

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Indian Independence Day Celebrations at Dundas Square, Toronto

Posted on 17 August 2011 by admin

Tim Uppal, federal Tory Minister of Democratic Reform read the message from Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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