Archive | Festivals

Shiamak Davar Dance group teaches dance moves at CIBC

Posted on 13 May 2011 by admin

IIFA Buzz at Etobicoke

IIFA Buzz at Etobicoke

As part of IIFA buzz, CIBC organized a meeting with the press at its Albion and Kipling branch to warm up its employees and the South Asian community to join CIBC in becoming part of the IIFA celebrations this year in June. CIBC is offering people a chance to perform on stage with Bollywood mega stars. People can submit a minute long video at CIBC is also offering people a chance to put in entries at the same website to see the Bollywood stars up close by requesting the community to participate at CIBC IIFA Golden Ticket Contest.

On the occasion were also present Raza Hasan, Senior Vice President CIBC, Venki Raman, CIBC Etobicoke Vice President, Branch Manager Marina Wahabi, Anil Ferro, IIFA marketing director and Mitul and Vaibhav from Shiamak Davar group.

Published on April 21st, 2011

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IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival

Posted on 13 May 2011 by admin

Dancers at IIFA Buzz Brampton event

IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival is the name given to City events that will lead up to the IIFA awards taking place June 23 to 25 in Toronto. It is the first time the prestigious awards will be held in North America.

More than 400 members from Brampton’s South Asian community were on hand to join the celebrations, which featured a presentation of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, the IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival, South Asian food, music and dance.

“I am so happy that Brampton will be playing a role in this wonderful event,” says the Honourable Preeti Saran, Consul General of India in Toronto who addressed invitees. “IIFA not only provides an opportunity to showcase Indian culture, it offers South Asians living in Canada, an opportunity to be proud and to celebrate their heritage.”

Steve Solski, Manager Arts, Culture & Theatre, City of Brampton

Brampton’s IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival events are presented by CIBC and supported by the Government of Ontario through the Celebrate Ontario program. “Speaking on the festival, says, Sabbas Joseph, Director, IIFA. “We are thrilled that the City of Brampton will be participating in the IIFA Celebrations this year. It further fulfils IIFA’s objective of showcasing new destinations and cultures and we hope to see people from the city participate and give us their support.”

“Our government is proud to support IIFA celebrations in local communities like Brampton so more people can share in the excitement of this spectacular weekend,” says Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture. “This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Brampton and all of Ontario as a diverse and dynamic place to live, visit and do business. I encourage everyone to join the celebration and participate in the IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival this June.”

Senior Vice President CIBC, Raza Hasan

“The IIFA 2011 program and IIFA Buzz events will not only shine a spotlight on the very best of the Indian film industry from around the world, but, as importantly, it will showcase the diversity, pride and passion of Canada’s South Asian communities, and Canadians of all backgrounds,” says Raza Hasan, Senior Vice President, Retail Lending and Wealth Risk Management at CIBC. “Our sponsorship of IIFA is just another example of how CIBC, together with our employees and clients, embraces Canada’s diversity. At the same time, we are excited to honour the cultural, artistic and business contributions of the global South Asian community.”

The month of June promises to be a busy one for fans of Indian cinema. IIFA Buzz Brampton Festival events include everything from “Bollywood Under the Stars” movie nights to a South Asian-themed Farmers’ Market and Flower City Parade on Saturday, June 18.

“It is a thrill for the City of Brampton to participate in such an incredible event as IIFA,” says City Councillor Vicky Dhillon. “With more than 100 thousand South Asians living in our City, we are honoured that we will be able to celebrate this heritage and introduce the rich South Asian culture to our greater community.”

Published on April 21st, 2011

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Amar Sethi: A Spirit to be Relished and Cherished

Posted on 13 October 2010 by .

With news about higher unemployment rates, lesser jobs every other week if not every other day, listening to Amar Sethi say that “I have always had a job.  Whatever it has taken, I’ve done it.  I have found a home at Mercedes Benz Canada and I am in it for the long haul.  It has taken me a while to find a place to call home and Mercedes Benz Canada has given me that warm and fuzzy feeling I have been searching for”.

This is the true spirit of South Asian hard work that is applauded and relished by Canada. And Amar Sethi, a sales professional at Mercedes Benz in Markham lives and breathes it. Amar has worked in corporate Canada for more than ten years as a sales professional; six years with Sony Canada, three years with Future Electronics in Montreal and now in his second year with Mercedes Benz Canada.

Many South Asian students switch majors in almost every year of their 4-year-bachelors degree at university, torn between what they want as a career and what they enjoy learning. Amar’s advice to today’s youth is “most of us just need to concentrate and to find a goal and work hard to get there. If you’re dedicated, determined and persistent, you’ll achieve it.  The key is to find what you love to do.  It can take years of work in different industries, but you will know when you have found it.  I knew the moment Mercedes Benz Canada offered me employment.  I could not ask to work for a better company.  Mercedes Benz motto is “The best or nothing.”  I am proud to be a part of that elite crowd. Work shouldn’t feel like work. It should feel good and you should want to genuinely do what is expected of you,” Amar advises.

Sales and after-sales service is not easy, but Amar has a natural knack for it that is genuine in many ways. “A good sales person doesn’t consider it a job. It’s just a natural approach to things. Some people are cut out for it, some people are absolutely not. I do my best to provide my clients with the service they want and deserve.” He adds “I am here to help my clients get into a Mercedes Benz” he says simply.

While diversity is cherished in the work place, the concern remains that South Asians do not climb up to the top levels of management in big corporations. Amar’s reflective response is “anywhere I have wanted to be, I’ve made it to be. Doors have never been closed in my face. I believe that if I did not get somewhere it is because I wasn’t ready for it. With Mercedes Benz Canada, I am looking forward to any and all challenges.”

The South Asian community has “very large buying power. Our community is a little more conservative which can be a good thing,” Amar says.

Amar’s success comes not only from his great sales experience, but also through the extensive sales, marketing and service training he has completed over the years. He truly cares for his clients and builds a very unique relationship with each and every one of them.

As a kid he says his parents were “cool” with him. “My parents have taught me a lot. Hard work will pay off, just be honest and sincere in whatever you do.  Good things come to good people. “

His trips to India have been frequent and added a perspective to Amar’s life. “I have a different appreciation of life…I have different appreciation for relationships, I have different appreciation for the luxuries we have,” he says.

While having access to hot running water is not really a luxury, but for many in India it is nothing short of a treat.

So was there a clash of culture?

“It’s a different culture,” he concedes, however “Canada is my home. I am Canadian. Born and raised with a little extra spice, I am aware and considerate of my culture” “I am an Indo-Canadian,” Amar adds after a short pause.

Engaged to be married, Amar considers himself “a hopeless romantic.” He is is looking forward to being “the family man”. Cooking elaborate dinners is one of his passions and something he is quite good at, but strongly believes that “the cook doesn’t clean”. The principle of his life is simple and inspired by his mother:

“To be successful, you must have respect and show compassion for others”, and this is exactly what Amar practices in his day to day life.

As for the South Asian community, Amar cherishes it deeply. When asked, what more can we do as a community? Amar says “support each other and be kind to one another. When we see another South Asian working hard, let’s do what we can to help, why not support someone from our own community. When we are united, the sky is the limit”.

Amar Sethi is a sales consultant at Mercedes-Benz in Markham.  Expect to see his warm smile and professional attitude when you enter the Markham dealership. Stay tuned for his weekly specials.

Mercedes-Benz Markham

8350 Kennedy road

Markham, On.

L3R 0W4


Author: Asma Amanat

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Music is Thicker than Water: RDB’S Musically United Brotherhood

Posted on 12 May 2010 by .

I turn on my radio, sing along RDB and wonder where they started from. I think about the journey they have taken through the land of notes and tunes, and how they have arrived at the final destination to give us super hits. To quench my curious thirst, I met Manj from RDB at his studios in Mississauga. The humble Manj (the middle brother) stepped out of his recording studio and our brief meeting took off in their aesthetically furnished conference room.

RDB rose out of England and spread all across the desi-globe. This band of brothers shares a strong unique bond of a unanimous struggle.  The ups and downs that kept them together and the worry they caused their father was never understood better by anyone but them.  The three brothers pursuing a career that has a rapport of more failures than success, was enough to make their father stay up  nights thinking about the abandoned  glorious careers his sons would have had in medicine and law.  But the strong brotherhood convinced him that nature had defied the law of probability and all three are blessed with musical talent.

Kuly, Manj and Surj started their pursuit of music by dreaming of becoming DJs. They played music by utilizing any household item that would produce any tune: broken bowls, spoons, tapes, and torn out speakers were their best weapons in this battle to convince their father. Finally, he gave in and bought his sons new speakers and CD players to pursue their crazy dream.

Manj recalls that the first time they Dj-ed was on Surj’s 18th birthday party. That event opened the doors for them to the world of producing music and DJing at events of all sorts. From that point on they became full fledged wedding DJs.  The over flowing bookings and response from the audience made them think about making their own songs. Manj says, “We were playing people’s songs and started thinking that why shouldn’t we make our own. So, we made a mini studio and did two songs. We would play them everywhere we went.”

Getting their foot through the doors of the music industry through DJing, they started noticing the response of the audience, “We wanted to make songs that would get people on the dance floor and then we worked on keeping them there. We would go back to the studio and take out the part that made people’s hands go down on the dance floors.”

Constant editing and re-editing gave rise to a strong brotherhood and talented musicians for the world to witness.

Manj talks highly about his father and says, “Dad never wanted us going clubbing ever, but then we started as a group and people started talking about us. He felt proud and advised us to take it all the way to the top. He told us not to leave it half way. We discussed what we were planning to do and he gave us his blessings.”

This gifted group found their inspiration from the one who sired them, “Our dad is very religious and he used to do hymns in Gurdwaras so we learnt Bajaa and Tabla at [a] very young age and that’s where we get our inspiration from.”

The band of brothers expanded and Nindy joined in after her marriage to Manj. Manj ran into Nindy in Toronto and moved here. He laughs and recalls, “I had no idea she had another talent apart from making me roti.” Manj heard his wife sing along a song while driving and brought her straight to the studios. With a little more encouragement he made a song and sent it to his brothers in England to hear her out.

“Aaja Sajna” came into being and Nindy was their female singer from then on.

When Manj came to Canada, he faced all the struggles any new immigrant has to face. He lived in a basement initially with his wife and had to rebuild his career as a singer in this new land. “It was a hard experience to be very well known in England and not to be recognized at all in Canada. It was a big ‘thappar’ in the face. It was a wake-up call to restart everything.”

It was a hard struggle but a reality check at the right time.

Talking about their appearance in Bollywood, Manj says that we had no idea we would make it there until Akshay Kumar called us. It was our music that got us a break.

RDB is thankful to Akshay for bringing them into Bollywood. But Manj says that this success hasn’t changed us as people, “We are still the same ones we were, still making our music and doing out thing. Bollywood hasn’t gotton to our heads.”

Manj loves the fact that the entire family is a part of RDB. It gives them an opportunity to have quality family time even when at work. “We do the shows together, we travel as a family. Work never got into family life because it became our family life.”

The dad that initially opposed clubbing and a career in music later became the secret weapon of this band. The birth of RDB helped him discover his hidden talent as a poet and he writes their songs.

Manj says that it is sometimes hard for us to discuss things with our dad that are opposed to our cultural values. When we described the plot of “Kambakht Ishq” to our dad and asked him to write the song, as a father he kept on arguing, “But that’s so wrong. The guy has to fall in love and marry the girl he loves at some point.”

He further says, “As a group we try to keep neutral, we don’t want to be political activists or anything of the sort. When we are given a project we just give it our best.”

Traveling all across the globe and hearing about identity crisis at every turn, Manj says that they discovered who they are. “We are technically not from anywhere. We are Indian because our forefathers were from India. Although we were born in England but we are not English either, we are nor white, we are not British. And now I live in Toronto. I am not from India, I am not from England, I am not from Canada. But wherever I am from is who I am. The best way to describe it is that I am a believer in all cultures and all countries.”

He further says, “One thing that can bring everyone together is music. There are going to be fine lines around religion and wars are based on religion. But music is in every religion and brings people together.”

Manj finally says to all the fans out there to watch out for their new album, “World Wide” coming this summer with the first single by Nindy Kaur.

Author: Saniya Zahid

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Celebrating United Nations Day

Posted on 21 October 2009 by .

Sixty-four years ago this week, the countries of the world came together and signed the United Nations Charter, the treaty that established the organization which bears its name.  Coming out of a brutal and very costly world war which took the lives of some 60 million people, these countries understood that for the human race to survive, they had to cooperate and work together to resolve their differences.

Although it seemed like a radical idea at the time, the creation of the United Nations on October 24, 1945 was based on the simple notion that we all live on the same planet, breathe the same air, and share certain values. 

We all want to live in free societies that value equality, justice and self-determination.  We all care about our environment and believe that children should be given every opportunity to learn and thrive.  We believe that elderly people should be cherished for their wisdom and experience.  And finally, we believe that war is the ultimate violation of these principles and should be prevented at all costs.

Although the United Nations officially began in 1945, it was only in 1971 that the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that October 24th be observed as a public holiday by member states.  Traditionally, it has been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the goals and achievements of the UN.

These include supporting human rights and fair elections in the burgeoning democracies of the underdeveloped world, funding a variety of agricultural, educational and health care programs which assist tens of millions of people (whose incredible triumphs include the complete eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s, thanks to the World Health Organization, an agency of the UN), protecting the labour rights of workers, assisting small farmers in poor countries, and cleaning up the environment, just to name a few.  Most importantly, the UN provides a forum for countries to resolve their differences at a conference table instead of a battlefield.

UN Day is also notable for messages issued by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly.  A video-taped message of the Secretary-General is often shown by national TV stations around the world.

            Some perceive the United Nations as a separate institution from the governments of the world.  But it is important to understand that the UN is in fact a creation of those governments and only reflects what they represent. 

The United Nations has seen many challenges over the past sixty-four years and continues to evolve and adapt to new global issues.  Especially in a world of nuclear and chemical weapons, we need to put old divisions behind us and recognize our similarities. 

Donald Williams, a former NASA astronaut, said it best: “For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective.  The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.”

Here’s to uniting the nations of the world.



 Author: Bilaal Rajan

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Of Sisters and Brothers

Posted on 14 October 2009 by .

Come Bhai Dooj and the only image that clouds the mind is that of a doting sister lovingly smearing her brother’s forehead with the red tika. It’s the day of brothers and sisters! Bhai Dooj is an auspicious Hindu occasion celebrated after Diwali. The festival of Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the fifth day of the Diwali festival and as the word ‘Dooj’ suggests, Bhai Dooj falls on the second day after the new moon.

Bhai Dooj pic

Rachana is applying tilak on her brother Piyush.

Rituals of Bhai Dooj

On the day of Bhai Dooj, I visit my sisters in (Toronto) to have a meal with them. The tradition is explained in Sanskrit with, ‘Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam’ that means having a meal with sister. After invoking the blessings of family deity, she applies tilak and performs aarti and prays for my happy life. Interesting part is the thali. I love the way she decorates it. The aarti is accompanied by a beautifully decorated thali which contains roli and rice in specific katoris. Thalis are festooned with colored grains, pepper, buds, petals, leaves, beads and sequins. Bhai Dooj sweets are also an important part of the thali.

After this, I bless her and promise to protect her from all adversities in life. She also gets pampered with loads of Bhai Tika gifts or some cash.

Story behind Bhai Dhooj

There are several stories supporting the festival. It is believed that Yamraj the god of death visited his sister Yamuna on this day. Yamuna applied the vermillion tilak on his forehead and put a garland around him, wishing him well. They exchanged gifts and sweets. Yamraj was so pleased that he announced that anyone who gets a vermillion tilak on this auspicious day will never be led through hell’s doors. Therefore Bhai Dooj is also known as Yama Dwitiya.

Another legend emphasizes that after vanquishing the demon Narakasura Lord Krishna went to his sister Subhadra’s house. She welcomed him with aarti (lit diya), flowers and sweets. She then applied the tilak on his forehead. Since then it is believed that on the day of Bhai Dooj the brother goes to the sister’s house and the ‘vermillion tilak’ is a symbol of love and prayers from a sister to her brother.

Bhai Dooj Celebration

Bhai Dooj is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm. It offers an opportunity to strengthen our bond of love. In fact, when I go to my sisters place sweet memories of childhood togetherness are shared in an amiable atmosphere. And exchange of gifts further helps to nurture the sweet bond on this occasion.

The latest trend is the e-Tika. Today, with the internet access, I enjoy the sweet memories with my elder sister who is in India and share my future plans too through internet. The whole day just passes in the blissful feeling of togetherness.

  Author: Piyush Maheshwary and Rachana.K are siblings. This article has been written by both Piyush and Rachana.

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The Festival of Fasting and Feasting

Posted on 14 October 2009 by .

Once again, it is the month of Kartik and the festival of Karva Chauth is upon us. In October last year, celebrity bahu Aishwarya Rai Bachchan left a juicy Hollywood project to be with hubby Abhishek on her first Karva Chauth.


As we know, it’s a day devoted to fasting (you can’t have even water), dressing up, spending time together and waiting for the never-seem-to-be-rising moon. The very essence of this traditional Hindu festival is togetherness. This festival comes before Diwali on Kartik ki Chauth, the fourth day of the dark moon.

Churi wallas at Gerrard Bazzar, have layered up the tinkle effect, halvais have dished out the karva thali, bright hues have made inroads to the female wardrobe and the traditional henna patterns are still up-and-coming, and so women are gearing up for husband’s day. The markets are alive with the hustle and bustle of women, busy shopping for the day. “The festival is a treat for mehendi wallahs, halwais and bangle sellers, who get busy all day long catering to the needs of their women clients,” says Manika Gupta, a beauty parlour manager on Gerrard Street.

A traditional Hindu festival of feasting and fasting, Karva Chauth over the years has acquired a special significance for the `married queens’. I have been celebrating this festival for past 17 years.

Married women fast one whole day without food or water for the long life of their husbands. The ritual signifies extreme love and devotion to the husband. Here in Canada, I somehow find it little difficult to apply mehendi on my hands. So it`s my husband who makes some imprints on my palms. Or me and my friends get together at someone’s house and apply mehandi on each other’s hands. Though these are not like the original mehndi prints, the joy of sharing sweet moments like this with my husband will be fresh forever in my heart. 

On this day, they observe a fast, praying for the long life, well being and prosperity of their husband. They break their fast in the evening, after moonrise. On this sacred festival, people come together and socialize with friends and family, exchange gifts and share home-cooked meals. It also provides an opportunity to all married women, to get close to their in-laws.

Karwa Chauth is the festival which reflects joy, splendour, brightness and happiness of a married life. There is a difference though celebrating this festival here and in India. In India this festival is celebrated with lots of pomp and show. You can really see the markets all decked up for the occasion, luring women to purchase more than required.  When women go on a shopping spree for this occasion they get a chance to eat gol-gappas, chat-papdi and much more from the Pheriwallas on the street. Here the story is quite different. We can hardly fine the pheriwallas here. And only a handful of people celebrate this special occasion. The only crowd that you see is in the temple where the women get together to pray for the long life of their husbands.


The tradition of gifting

In spite of being one of the toughest fast, Karva Chauth is always looked forward and is welcomed by married woman with great fervor. One of the reasons behind this joy and happiness is the golden chance of receiving expensive and beautiful gifts from their husbands and relatives. As this festival is considered very important for married women, all the symbols that reflects the marriage status of a woman is in high demand such as jewelery, bangles, henna, sarees, lehnga choli and many other traditional gifts.


Gifts given on the Karva Chauth day is an expression of love between man and wife. Karwa Chauth is particularly special for a newly-wed woman who gets decked up in her bridal finery. During this festive occasion, jewelers and apparel makers get into the act, with special collections and designs at every price point imaginable. Thus, women observing a fast for the well-being of their husbands are rewarded with gifts by their husbands and other relatives.

Author:Deepa Vijh

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Sparkles in the Air!

Posted on 14 October 2009 by .

Festivity and laughter are back in the air. The smell of new clothes, sweets and crackers pervade in Indian homes and people are soaking in the excitement of the festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, where the third day is celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of lights’.

Diwali Ramya

All the five days are based on varied philosophies, with each day dedicated to a special thought or belief. Dhanteras is an auspicious Indian festival that ushers in the celebrations of Diwali, as the first day of the festivities.

“On this day we make colourful traditional rangoli designs to welcome the Goddess of wealth and prosperity in homes and offices. To indicate her long-awaited-arrival, small foot prints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the houses. Then we perform Lakshmi Puja in the evenings, when tiny earthen diyas are lit to banish the shadows of evil spirits. Bhajans- devotional songs are sung in the praise of Goddess Lakshmi,” says Sarika Verma, Sales Associate at Emergent Systems. It is also referred to as Dhantrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi.

“The `Dhan` in Dhanteras refers to `wealth` and `teras` to `thirteenth. ` Here thirteenth indicates the day Trayodashi on which Dhanteras falls. It occurs two days prior to Diwali, in the honour of Dhanavantri, the physician of Gods and incarnation of Vishnu. Dhanteras is an auspicious occasion to purchase precious metals like gold, silver and platinum. Dhanteras is also considered auspicious for setting up new businesses, commencing new projects, house warming and fixing wedding dates,” explains Sarika.

After Dhanteras its choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdasi. Narakasura, who was a monster created havoc among the gods and the sages by disturbing their penance or by creating havoc during religious rituals. Dejected by the trouble caused by him, all the gods went to Lord Krishna and pleaded him to protect them from “Narakasura”. Satyabhama (wife of lord Krishna) appealed to Krishna to give her the opportunity to destroy Narakasura as Narakasura had a curse on him that any woman could kill him. So Satyabhama with Krishna`s help kills Narakasura. In the battle field this depicts the victory of good over evil. Since then, Diwali is celebrated by people with great joy. And elated with Krishna`s victory, womenfolk massaged scented oil on the Lord’s body and gave him a special bath to wash away the demon’s blood. From then on began the custom of taking a bath before sunrise on the Narak Chaturdasi day. Bhudevi - Mother of Narakasura declared that the death of Narakasura should not be mourned but celebrated by all.

Preeti Mehta, a regular reader of Generation Next and a student of York University says, “On this day we light diyas and burn crackers. In fact, my dadi makes it customary for us to take an early bath on this day. We mix marigold petals in water meant for bath. An oil and uptan (a paste of gram flour and fragrant powder) massage of the body is also performed before the bath.”

Then it’s the big day – Diwali. Preparations for this day start weeks before with the spring cleaning of the home. Diwali is a special occasion when every family is busy cleaning their home thoroughly. On this day, people elegant up their houses to welcome Goddess Lakshmi – the Hindu Goddess of wealth. People believe that Goddess Lakshmi visits only clean houses on Diwali. “After cleaning, we decorate our house with artistically laid kolams. In fact, mom adorns the doorways with garlands of mango leaves and marigolds, known as “torans”,” says, Anita M, employee at Mc Donald’s.

Then in the evening earthen diyas, candles and layers of electric bulbs are lighted by people to symbol the festival. People wear bright new outfits and women adorn themselves with attractive jewellery. “All members of the family get together in the puja room to perform the traditional Lakshmi Puja on the occasion of Diwali. We pray for prosperity and happiness in the coming year. This is because Diwali symbols the beginning of New Year. A sumptuous family dinner follows the Puja and thereafter, it is time to burn crackers. All our relatives, friends and neighbours gather in the open space like a park or parking space at Gurudwara (as we are not allowed to burst them in front of the house, unlike our home country) and indulge in a show of fire-works; sky looks brilliant with the amazing sparkle of crackers,” says Anita.

“I do miss home during Diwali. But since I have been here since last four years, me and my Indian colleagues get together for a potluck meal at our office. And that’s what I feel good about this festival here,“ says Sameer Chopra, process analyst at Just Energy.    

 Diwali is also the time for finery, where you can see yards of silk, zardosi embroidery and zari all around you. “It’s a festival which requires you to dress up in beautiful ethnic clothes. “Shopping for Diwali starts a fortnight before the festival beckons. It’s a shopper’s time as they never have purchases so good. Almost every shopkeeper has an eye-catching discount offer on clothes, sweets and crackers to attract customers. Stores offer a variety of ethnic wear for women. Be it the traditional saree, salwar kurta or fusion ensembles, there is no dearth of choice for women and men as well. Diwali shopping is great fun for the entire family,” says Pooja Agarwal, house wife.

The fourth day is the Govardhan puja and finally the five days end with Bhai Dhooj. To know more about Bhai Dhooj and other Diwali customs read on the personal experiences of our readers. 

And finally, I can say that, the festival of Diwali is truly a “Festival of Lights”, as it not only involves lighting of Lamps but, it brings the light of happiness, togetherness, spiritual enlightenment and prosperity for everyone. The sounds of crackers killing all bad-omens, the lighted lamps-lighting the lives of people, the prayers and pujas creating an atmosphere full of goodness and purity, the festival of Diwali indeed fills the atmosphere with an aura of goodness and a heaven like atmosphere.


  Author: Ramya Maheshwary

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We Need South Asian Youth in Leadership Positions ,Anil Shah – Co Chair of Diwali 2009 Fundraising Committee for Trillium Health Centre

Posted on 14 October 2009 by .

Ms. Kim Warburton, Chair, Board of Directors & Mr. Hoscheit, Presdient and CEO Trillium Health Centre FoundationMP Bonnie Crombie - Mississauga StreestsvilleRDB entertaining the audience


More than 850 people gathered together in a rainy evening at Pearson Convention Centre to support and fundraise for Trillium Health Centre Foundation. The evening was adorned by the presence of Mayor Hazel McCallion, Minister of Labour the honourable Peter Fonseca, MP Ruby Dhalla, MP Rob Oliphant, Indian Consul General in Toronto Mrs. Preeti Saran, Sri Lankan Consul General Mr. Bandula Jaysakara and many other distinguished guests. This year’s fundraiser’s focus was well-being of seniors.

The Ballroom was filled with energetic people who glittered and sparkled in their colourful sarees and dresses. No wonder youth was an integral part of this gathering. To add icing to this beautiful cake was RDB that electrified the crowd.

Seeing our elected representatives at Diwali Fundraiser in coulrful traditional dresses, we took the opportunity to ask some of these distinguished guests as to how South Asian youth – which we identify as between the ages of 15  to 35 – can contribute to our institutions such as hospitals.

Dr. Gopal Bhatangar, Chief of Staff of Trillium Health Centre and Co-Chair of Diwali 2009, noted that October 2nd is Gandhi ji’s birthday and Gandhi ji’s message was to live life for the welfare of other people; “his philosophy was to sacrifice and be non-violent and our South Asian youth needs to get back to its roots of sacrifice and giving.” Dr. Bhatangar encouraged youth to be engaged in healthcare debate; to give him and his board members ideas on how to recruit youth, so that they can plan, organize and volunteer in events such as these.  His goal, then, is to create a smooth transition from one generation to the next. In other words, he wanted to pass on the torch of serving community and its institutions to Generation Next.

Mr. Anil Shah, Co-Chair of Diwali 2009, enthusiastically gave me his contact number and insisted that it be published so that South Asian youth can get in touch with him. His aim is to groom a leader and be mentor to someone in his or her 20s to become a board member of the hospital and to let youth take charge of position that has been assigned to him. “We need youth,” he said “and we will provide them all kinds of support.” His contact # is 416-843-2645.

Ms. Janet Davidson, the President and CEO of Trillium Health Centre, dressed in a colourful green dress adorned with golden sequins and more, said that today’s youth is much more engaged than the youth of let’s say my generation. This youth takes tremendous interest in humanitarian activities. Citing Diwali Fundraiser 2009, Ms. Davidson said that “if you look at this particular event, youth is out here to support their parents and grandparents, so in essence they are supporting their families.”

Mayor Hazel McCallion looked as strong as ever in shocking pink sari. She told us that she is very much impressed with how South Asian community has integrated into the Canadian society. This community has responded to the call as hospitals need support from the community to provide services. Trillium provides excellent services and the community has recognized this. Earlier in her address to the audience she acknowledged South Asian community generously. “You’re here because you care,” she said.

The Honourable Ontario Minister of Labour, Mr. Fonseca believes that “youth sees the world through different lens..and in government we look up to youth to solve problems.” He noted that Trillium is building partnerships with the community and it is important for youth to understand the importance of healthcare. There are local issues where the youth can work as a team to solve these problems, Mr. Fonseca said.

Ms. Preeti Saran, the Indian Consul General in Toronto, noted that “youth’s immediate active involvement could be in voluntary services and if they could afford monetarily, then they should contribute financially also.” On the question of youth leadership, she said “it’s a good idea, however it is up to the hospital board to make a decision on that.”

Mr. Bandula Jayaskara, the Sri Lankan Consul General in Toronto, excitedly pointed out that “healthcare can be a rallying point for youth to be proactive.” A gathering of more than 850 people, he noted, shows that South Asians care about their hospitals and their communities.

Ms. Ruby Dhalla, the Member of Parliament from Brampton-Springdale, motivated youth to energize the contributions to Canadian institutions through their ideas, energy and time; and if the youth has access to money, they must also contribute financially.

Mr. Rob Oliphant, the Member of Parliament from Don Valley West, wished that corporate sponsors could have sponsored some more tables for youth.

Neil Wadhvana, affectionately known as “Mr. O’Canada”, said that we cannot at this age contribute money to hospitals such as Trillium, however we can spread the message of peace and harmony. He noted that more and more youth are interested in volunteering, and this is one way we can contribute.

Aanchal Dogra, Miss India Canada 2009, wanted youth to be in leadership position if they can put together and present well- thought out ideas.


From L to R - Dr. Dhalla, MP Ruby Dhalla & Mrs. Preeti Saran  - Indian Consul General in TorontoAanchal Dogar - Miss India Canada with a friend

Anil Shah - Co Chair Diwali 2009 and President of Ni-Met Metals & Mineral Inc.Ms. Janet Davidson - President & CEO of Trillium Health Center



Author: Asma Amanat

Photography by: Projectedlife

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What are you gifting this Diwali?

Posted on 07 October 2009 by .

With the festival season in full swing and our festive spirits soaring high, here’s a time to cherish our loved ones, yet again. And when it comes to pamper those we love, what else could be better than giving them a gift. A gift, that’s not given away by them to somebody else, but cherished forever. So here are a few not-so-common gift ideas for special people in your life.

Diwali is the most celebrated and largest gift giving and shopping festival. The tradition of exchanging gifts and shopping is quite prominent because Diwali is associated with prosperity. People go out of their way to splurge themselves and their loved ones as they celebrate Diwali.

Ramya pic

With more and more people turning health freaks, those dabbas of laddoos can comfortably be left out as the Diwali gifts. ‘‘What you can gift instead is the large variety of Organic teas and flavoured teas, along with a Ceramic tea set. Another option could be lots of colourful candles, floating or otherwise, along with Table linen on hand-woven silks or on cottons with Zari and sequins for tables,” says Trisha Metha, Customer Service Associate in HSBC.

Decor Items


Diwali is the time to decorate the house and hence an appropriate time to present your friends and relations with decorative items. Gift your near and dear ones nice decorative items to adorn their houses. Popular decor gift items include Swarovski show pieces, Feng-Shui pieces and hanging bells. ‘‘These are a big hit with customers,” says a sales executive at Swarovski store at Square One.



Youth generally prefer to receive some trendy gadgets as gift as a part of any occasion. Mobiles, I pods, digital Photo frames, MP3 players, home theatres, etc are some of the most popular gadgets and are highly appreciated by young people. In fact Barbeque sets, roti makers and deep fryers make a novel gift idea for Diwali.

Office Accessories


These days corporate gift culture is very much in trend. Employees to employers and employers to Employees often gift some unique Diwali apparel as a token of greetings. Also, these gifts are exchanged between different organizations. Flower pots, pen stands, executive diary, table lamps are some of the possible and descent Diwali corporate gifts.


diwali_celinamahekAnd for guys, it`s time to gift your lady love. ‘‘Take your wife out at her favourite place. Just both of you enjoying luxurious dinner in the amicable environment, will surely make her feel special. Another option is to give her a stunning , beautiful saree and again diamonds or jewellery as they say are a girl’s best friend, so surprise your beloved with sparkling charisma of diamond, gold, pearl jewelry and keep guessing who is shinning more-jewelry piece or your wife!” says jewellery designer, Sherya Singh.

Gifts vouchers designed especially for the festival are yet another ideal option to send to family and friends on Diwali. A special message may be added to make the gift more special. Adding spice to the celebrations is a requisite, more so, if you are separated by distances. What better way to augment the festivities than by choosing to offer pleasant surprises to loved ones, right?

And finally don’t forget to wrap your gift with loads of love.




 Author: Ramya Maheshwary

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