• By: OLM Staff

The Festival of India Returns with a Wave of Culture and Colour!

All photos by Andre Gagne.

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Dancers Group 1

To the sound of a sitar, a surge of culture and colour is about to wash over Marion Dewar Plaza bringing with it all the traditional food, workshops, dancing and, of course, music that is the Festival of India. The three-day event beginning on August 5th will see thousands attend in celebration of the multicultural splendour and heritage of India.

“Our mission is to offer the visitors and residents of the National Capital Region a world-class opportunity to experience and personally learn about the traditions, culture and heritage of India – and thus promote multi-cultural understanding, appreciation, harmony and peace,” says a statement on the festival’s website.


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Patrons not familiar with the festival are in for a treat and we’re not just talking about the tasty mango lassi beverages, the sweet dodha or the palak paneer meals that will be served up. Organizers have programed dazzling shows that will fill the main stage with performances as well as educational workshops, lectures and cooking demonstrations elsewhere on site.

Friday evening’s performances begin with the vibrant Rajasthan-Gharana Arts of Ottawa dance group, live music and also some puppetry from the Akaar Puppet Theatre of India. The troupe was established in 1988 by Puran Bhat of New Delhi and, since then, they have performed shows in utilizing traditional rod and string puppets. “Caarvan”, one of their main performances, tells of the life of modern day puppeteers trying to maintain their art form.

“I am delighted to lend my support to this premier festival shinning the spotlight on local and international artists of Indian heritage in addition to showcasing the diversity of languages, cultures and traditions of India,” said Mayor Jim Watson who opened last year’s event with enthusiasm.


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Limber up early Saturday morning with some yoga and, afterwards, add a little art to your skin with a henna tattoo before taking in a pottery workshop or a cooking demonstration. Darpan Performing Arts will kick off the live shows at noon. Performances throughout the day include Bhangra dance and a traditional stick folk dance called Dandiya. Audience participation is encouraged for the Bollywood for Fun workshop and, if you don’t mind getting a little messy, coat yourself in some colourful holi power.

Evening performances will include a medley of music and folk dances from Bengal to Gujarat, storytelling from Chitrangik Katha and an all-out Bhangra dance party!

Save some energy because Sunday continues with more of the same including a performance by Raghu Dixit Project, India’s biggest cultural and musical folk band!


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The Festival of India runs between August 5-7 and tickets can be purchased at the gates or online.


Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.