Global culture and cuisines, including from India, were on display in acres of space where communities with different backgrounds and origins pitched their mega tents in the Hershey Centre in suburban Mississauga for three days from May 27-29.

India Pavilion was there inside the main building, packed with visitors – Indo-Canadians and others – when this writer visited the pavilion on May 27 – loud music, all kinds of food, handicrafts, jewellery, etc. It was a fun place, same as dozens and dozens of pavilions from other countries displaying their respective cultures and all briskly selling their cuisines: China, Pakistan, Nepal, Greece, Lebanon, Poland, Africa, Brazil, Spain etc.

Ravi Pandey, founding president of WeConnect, a social and cultural organization, heads the Indian Pavilion with Rahul Pandey of AIMS as its chair. He was seated at the main entrance of “Mirage,” name of the India Pavilion calling it “reflection of India.”

“We started it a few years back but it is all being managed and run by young people,” explained Ravi Pandey. “We only provide some support and guidance.”

Sejal Gujjar, Jay Shree and others work on it for months and months to put this magnificent show that reflects what Indian culture and cuisines are all about.

“Communities benefit when all are engaged and feel included. I am confident that as we work together, plan together and learn from one another we will continue to make wonderful contributions to the community,” said Gajjar in her capacity as Vice-President of WeConnect, a community service organization that was founded 8 years back to bring generations together – children and youth, older adults and the community at large.

Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Vikas Swarup, was happy that there was the Indian flag fluttering amongst acres of space that Carassauga had occupied with shuttle buses running to transport the visitors to various buildings: “The 1.2 million-strong community of Indian origin in Canada has created a name for itself with its dynamism, entrepreneurship and spirit of selfless service,” Swarup said in his message to the organizers of India Pavilion. “The Indian Pavilion will serve to educate people on India’s traditions, art and history while also providing visitors a taste of authentic Indian cuisine which is becoming increasingly popular the world over."

2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian confederation and it is 70th anniversary of India’s independence. “There has never been a better time for the India-Canada partnership which spans virtually all sectors of human endeavors from agriculture to space,” said Swarup.

Over a million people actually visited Carassauga during three days. “During 32 years of its existence, Carassauga has grown to be one of the largest festivals in Ontario and Canada,” said Marrek Ruta, chair of Carassauga.

(Ajit Jain can be contacted at ajit.jain0410@gmail.com)

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