Celebrate Culture in Thunder Bay at Festival of India
The scent of naan bread. The sound of rhythmic dancing and ancient instruments. The sight of colourful fabrics and intricate henna designs. For one Saturday in July, the familiar waterfront of Prince Arthur’s Landing is transformed into a little corner of India. The Festival of India, now in its eighth year, is hosted by the Vedic Cultural Centre of Thunder Bay and takes place July 15 from 3-8 pm. It celebrates Krishna tenets of community and love. Admission is whatever you wish to donate, and the events within the festival, including the tasty vegetarian feast, are free. No wonder nearly 9,000 visitors and city residents attended last year!
The day starts with a waterfront yoga practice, led by local yoga instructors. New this year: a cricket demo to show how to play “the sport of India,” led by expert cricketer Tom Melville. The Chariot Parade is back, with a towering 4.5-metre chariot that represents universal love and brotherhood. People are encouraged to help tow the chariot with ropes and to dance to the live music.
Other activities include the vegetarian meal featuring curries, rice, naan bread, desserts and fruit; a transcendental art exhibit; musical performances with traditional instruments like tabalas, the harmonium, sitars and kartals; and theatre performances that interpret historic Indian stories and legends like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Colourfully costumed dancers from North America and India perform kathak, one of the eight forms of classical dance with graceful movements and footwork, and bhratnatyam, which is thought to have originated 3,000 years ago and showcases mythological stories. The headliner singers for 2017 are Gaura Mani, direct from India.
(Want to participate in the Festival of Colours, where you toss brightly coloured powders into the air to throw worries to the wind? The event is so popular it’s getting its very own day. The Festival of Colours now takes place on Sunday September 10.)
There are 100-plus exhibits that highlight elements of Indian culture, ranging from vegetarianism and Vedic history to art and architecture. Get your picture taken wearing traditional Indian clothing or choose a temporary henna tattoo. Try chai tea, watch Indian cooking demos and shop for east Indian snacks, sweets and clothing. And of course, no summer festival would be complete without a bouncy castle and face painting for the kids. For one day only, combine iconic views of the Sleeping Giant and boats in the harbour with the alluring sights, sounds and tastes of India.