Established in 1999, Panorama India is a not-for-profit umbrella organization whose objective is to foster a better understanding between India and Canada by providing a platform for all Indian cultural associations and individuals to showcase their arts and culture. It was precisely this spirit to embrace the ancient legacy and heritage of India that motivated Panorama India to present a free day-long event to mark India’s 67th Republic Day.
The venue was Pearson Convention Center in Brampton, an impressive 25,000 square feet facility with a capacity of hosting up to 2000 people with elegance. The décor was saffron, white and green, in sync with the Indian tricolor, and the chairs were upholstered a lively yellow.
The program kicked off with a lineup of patriotic favourites sung by young and old, male and female singers. A mother-daughter duo gave an emotional rendition of “Aye Mere Watan ke Logon…” originally sung by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. Another stage rocker was the energetic “Chak De India” song where the audience clapped and cheered uproariously. A senior performer sang yesteryear melodies including “Choro kal ki baatein… hum Hindustani,” which were very well received by the audience.
After a brief pause to usher the event’s dignitaries like Interim Consul General of Toronto, Liberal and Conservative Party of Canada representatives, Panorama India organizer and others, the cultural programs resumed with a richly diverse array of dances presented by various dance schools including Sampradaya Academy, whose founder and creative director is none other than Order of Canada recipient, Lata Pada.
As is to be expected in such events, there were some speeches by dignitaries, kept brief and interesting by all who took to the mike. Anu Srivastava, Chair of Panorama India, greeted all guests and reiterated the mission of the organization she represents. Patrick Brown, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, confessed that he has visited India at least 60 times. He reminisced that his love affair with India began when his father would bring some Indian delicacies home. Another charmer was Liberal MP Kristy Duncan, who wooed the audience with her generous sprinkling of Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu words during her speech.
Other highlights of the event that took place from 11am to 6pm included a folk dance competition showcasing cultural dances from organizations representing various States of India, interesting stalls like meena bazaar, handicrafts, ethnic outfits, costume jewelry and much more. There was also a drawing competition for Juniors aged 8-16 with attractive prizes to be won.
No celebration is complete without doing service to one’s appetite, and there were plenty of options to do just that! South Indian food buffs relished Idli, Vada, Sambhar and Chutney, while snack lovers dug into samosas and pakoras. Hot tea and cool beverages were on the menu, too.
All in all, the event was a great place to reinforce ties with homeland India by soaking up the ambiance, songs, dances, food and the overall camaraderie abounding in the meticulously planned event where O Canada and Jan Gan Man anthems blended in chorus.