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VANCOUVERDESI.COM WEEKEND EVENTS BLOGPOST: PICS Gala, SAFF, and Mika Singh!

Another weekend is almost here, and another month in 2012 has passed as we head into November. Life is going to start getting busy during these last two months of the year. Diwali is coming up, students will have final exams soon, then Christmas, Boxing Day, and of course New Year’s Eve! But before we get ahead of ourselves, lets see what’s happening in our beautiful (rainy) city this coming weekend!

PICS 25th Anniversary Celebration

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, ie. PICS, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend. The celebration event will bring together leaders from various communities and celebrate 25 years of building community and cultural understanding. Enjoy an evening filled with cultural performances, live musicians, fine dining and plenty of networking opportunities.

The keynote speaker for the evening is environmental activist, Dr. David Suzuki.

Here’s what you need to know about the event:

  • Date:  Friday, November 2, 2012
  • Time:  6pm – 11pm
  • Location:  The Grand Taj Banquet Hall
  • Address:  8388 128 Street, Surrey, BC
  • Ticket Price:  $100, with proceeds benefiting the PICS Society
  • Purchase Tickets:  satbir.cheema@pics.bc.ca
  • Phone:  (604) 596-7722

South Asian Film Festival (SAFF)

The 1st Annual South Asia Film Festival kicked off this week with the opening gala on Wednesday, October 31st at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Those who were in attendance were in awe at the site of the one and only, Jaya Bachchan. Many of us Bollywood film lovers grew up watching Jaya in the classic films Sholay and Silsila and more recently Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. It’s no surprise she ended up marrying Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary actor with whom she starred in all three of these films and many others.

If you’re a film lover, then this weekend is perfect for you, especially given the nasty weather we’ve been having.
Films will be playing in Vancouver, Surrey, and Abbotsford.
The festival runs until Sunday, November 4th.
Visit www.saffcanada.org for the full schedule of events!

Mika Singh Live!

Speaking of films, a man who has had his fair share of hits on Bollywood soundtracks for the past couple of years is all set to rock the Lower Mainland with his catchy tunes. All I gotta say is…Dhinka Chikka Dhinka Chikka Dhinka Chikka Dhinka Chikka Hey Hey Hey Hey!!!!

One of the most anticipated concerts of the year is finally here! The younger – and perhaps more popular – brother of Daler Mehndi, Mika Singh will be rocking the stage this Sunday, November 4th at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. If you love upbeat Bollywood music, you need to go to this concert. Get your tickets now!

Here are the details:

Here’s a little teaser. How can you not love this song???

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VANCOUVERDESI.COM EVENTS BLOGPOST: Need a good laugh? Hollywood Harv and Friends can help!

Comedian Harv Puni, better known as Hollywood Harv to his fans, is a pretty funny guy.  He’s performed over 400 sold out comedy shows throughout the United States, England, India and across Canada and he has also MC’d concerts for world-class artists such as Destiny’s Child, Beastie Boys, Black Eyed Peas and JT Money just to name a few. His June performance at the Vogue Theatre was a big hit and now he would like to thank his dedicated fans for their ongoing support.

Harv and a few of his fellow comedians are putting on a show, and it’s completely FREE!! That’s right. FREE. He’s calling it fan appreciation day. So whether you’ve seen Harv perform before or not, you have no excuse not to show up! Did I mention there are $4.95 pints and $13.95 pitchers? Two more reasons why Mavericks is the place to be this Thursday night!

To find out more about Hollywood Harv, visit his website at www.hollywoodharv.ca. His latest DVD is also available for purchase on his website for just $5.

Check out this youtube clip for a preview of what to expect:

VANCOUVERDESI.COM EVENTS BLOGPOST: Navaratri, Diwali, and a Wedding Gala!

WOW!! Can you believe the end of October is already approaching? In just a couple of weeks, ghosts & goblins will take over our streets for Halloween, and then before you know it, Santa and his reindeer will be flying from rooftop to rooftop spreading Christmas joy around the world.

But, for South Asians everywhere, somewhere in between falls our most important and most widely celebrated holiday. I’m talking about Diwali.

Did you know Diwali is an official holiday not only in India, but also in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji?

Diwali is commonly known as the “Festival of Lights” and symbolizes the triumph of good over evil;  light over darkness.

This year, the official date for Diwali falls on Tuesday, November 13th.

The 9th annual Vancouver Celebrates Diwali Festival runs from Nov. 3-10, with the main event, Diwali Downtown taking place on Nov. 10th @ Roundhouse Community Centre from 3-8pm. See the full details at www.vandiwali.ca.

Leading up to Diwali is another fun celebration called Navaratri, which literally translates to “nine nights.” Navaratri is celebrated in many regions of India, but it is a major festival in the western Indian state of Gujarat and also in West Bengal. Navaratri started onTuesday, October 16th and will run for 9 days until Wednesday, October 24th.

Here in Vancouver, the Soni Cultural Society of B.C is presenting their own Navaratri Festival. Join in for someGarba and Raas dancing with a live music group from India calledBhikhudan Gadhavi & Matangiben.

Here are the details:

  • Date:  Tuesday, October 16th to Tuesday, October 23rd
  • Time:  8pm onwards.
  • Location:  Riverside Palace
  • Address:  14431 Knox Way, Richmond, BC
  • Email:  sonisociety@shaw.ca
  • Website:  www.sonisociety.com
  • Admission:
    • $5/night:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday
    • $2/night:  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
    • Children 12 and under are free.
Traditional Gujarati snacks and refreshments will be provided and there will also be prizes for the best costume and the best dancer!
And finally, last but definitely not least, if you’re planning on getting married anytime soon I’ve got the just the event for you! The 2nd annual Season’s of Love South Asian Wedding Gala, organized by Big Phat Indian Weddings, is taking place tomorrow.
Enjoy delicious food, fashion shows and door prize, all while scoping out some of the top wedding vendors in town. Also enter for a chance to win the $30,000 grand prize, which includes a wedding planning package from Big Phat Indian Weddings, along with a cake, mendhi, limo service, hair & makeup, photography and videography.
Here are the details:

Visit Big Phat Indian Wedding for more details!

That’s it for me today. Until next time…

VANCOUVERDESI.COM EVENTS BLOGPOST: PICS 25th Anniversary Celebration, David Suzuki speaks!

On November 2nd,  one of BC’s largest immigrant serving agencies will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary. I’m talking about the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, more commonly know as PICS.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO Charan Gill, PICS now employs over 100 staff members and offers many programs and services including language and settlement services, employment programs, housing for seniors, training, and programs for women and youth.

Here’s what you need to know about the event:

This celebration event will bring together leaders from various communities and celebrate 25 years of building community and cultural understanding. Enjoy an evening filled with cultural performances, live musicians, fine dining and plenty of networking opportunities. PICS Society’s newest life members and long-term donors will also be honored and there will be a very special visitor dropping by…

The keynote speaker for the evening is environmental activist, Dr. David Suzuki.

PICS recently partnered with the David Suzuki Foundation for a wonderful campaign called Punjabi By Nature. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Suzuki during the production of the promo video and it was such an honor to meet a man who has worked so hard all of his life to protect our fragile environment. He was very down-to-earth and eager to learn his lines and dance poses. I swear he’d been practicing on his own because he was a natural. Not only did he nail the Bhangra dance moves I taught him, but his pronunciation of the Punjabi lines was bang on! And let’s not forget his outfit. Dr. Suzuki looks super slick in the Bhangra vardi (uniform) and the turban definitely suits him as well!

David Suzuki & the promo video production team.

If you are wondering, what does Bhangra have to do with the environment and this campaign? Well there’s a direct connection actually! Bhangra originated in the fields of Punjab and was first performed by male farm-workers. These hardworking men would dance Bhangra steps, play live instruments like the Dhol, and sing Boliyan (songs in couplets) to celebrate their harvest. After working so hard all year long to grow their crops, finally these farmers could let loose and enjoy the fruits of their labour, both literally and figuratively. That very environment in which our crops grow and where farmers work is exactly what the David Suzuki Foundation works so hard to protect.

The Punjabi By Nature campaign aims to get people outside every day for 30 minutes and reconnect with nature. By participating, I am confident you will build a greater appreciation for the natural beauty of Canada and understand why it is so important to continue to protect it. You’ll also feel healthier AND you will get to vote for the bhangra move you want David Suzuki to learn! Everyone who joins the challenge will be entered into a contest to win two tickets to hear David speak at the PICS 25th Anniversary CelebrationHe’ll show off his dancing skills by doing the move that gets the most votes at the end of the challenge.

Check out the Promo Video:

VANCOUVERDESI.COM EVENTS BLOGPOST: Bhangra Idols Dance Competition, Oct. 7, 2012

Ok Bhangra lovers, if you’re looking to see some serious dance moves, you’re in luck because Vancouver’s biggest and longest-running Bhangra competition, Bhangra Idols is taking place in less than one week. 6 Senior teams and 8 Junior Bhangra Teams will compete for the title of Bhangra Idol: The Best of the Best & Junior’s Best, respectively.

Paji Guys Entertainment usually hosts two major competitions each year. The first is the Best in the West, which took place on May 12, 2012. The top 4 teams from Best in the West automatically qualify for Bhangra Idols: The Best of the Best. Throw in a couple of out-of-town teams from Boston and Edmonton and you’ve got yourself a fierce competition.

This year, a junior category has also been added, which is a great goal to work towards for the thousands of youth who learn Bhangra in the lower mainland. Interest in Bhangra has been rising exponentially over the past 10 years, to the point where there are dozens of academies that offer Bhangra lessons. There’s even an annual festival dedicated to Bhangra called VIBC – Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration.

I’ll be there next Sunday, and I hope to see you there as well!

Here’s what you need to know:

Here’s a YouTube clip of the winners from last year, Vancity Bhangra, just to give you a taste!

By the way, if you’d like to learn Bhangra or any other form of South Asian dance or music, I also run an organization called South Asian Arts that offers classes and accredited high school programs as well. About half of the dancers on Vancity Bhangra are from our company. Visit www.southasianarts.ca for more details!