Over 4,000 attendees took in the sounds, smells and tastes of India at the third annual festival this weekend. The festival took place in front of City Hall and the grounds were complete with a stage, vendors, food tents, a cooling tent, picnic tables and an area where various workshops were offered.
Dipankar Chakravarty, a member of the organizing committee, gave me a tour of the festival and offered me a drink of mango lassi–a refreshing mixture of mango pulp and yogurt. “So far so good. Friday was a beautiful day,” said Chakravarty, who added festivalgoers stayed until 12 a.m., listening to DJ Double J.
The three-day festival held a wide range of workshops such as cooking, henna artwork, jewelry, pottery, dance and more. “We want to give the residents of Ottawa a glimpse of India–the food, music and culture,” said Chakravarty. He also said they also host panel discussions lead by professors; topics include ‘Women in India: Opportunities and Challenges in a Globalized World’ and ‘Changing Notions of Women in Bollywood Cinema.’
Dr. Bala Brahmanandam Madaparthi is the founder of the festival and he said it’s all about showcasing the culture and history of India and entertaining guests through education. “Understanding different cultures is the primary foundation to knowing the bigger picture of India,” he said.
One festival highlight is participating in Holi, also known as the festival of colours, typically celebrated in the spring. Kids and adults alike throw bouts of colour powder at one another. It looks like paint but it is in fact a powder made of natural ingredients.
Wendy Rockburn coordinated Holi and said she filled 800 bags of coloured powder for Friday and Saturday. “Start the music!” yelled an onlooker. Holi participators hair colour changed from their natural colour to yellow, purple or blue. Some even wore sunglasses to aid in protection and of course, performance.
Food was undoubtedly was a highlight for me. The executive chef from Coconut Lagoon offered samples of coconut curry shrimp and it was spectacular. Additionally, there was a large food tent and so I tried butter chicken accompanied with naan bread, chickpeas and rice–delicious!