TORONTO: Ajit Khanna, Chair of Panorama India, speaks about his organisation and its programme for India’s Independence Day celebrations at Yonge and Dundas Square on August 11.
Q: So what does Panorama India stand for?
A: Panorama India is a cultural umbrella organization which promotes Indo-Canadian arts and culture.
Q:When was it formed and with what goals?
A: Panorama was formed in 1999 with the support of Consulate General of India and its goal is to promote unity in diversity.
Q: How has it grown over the years? And what new has it done for the Indo-Canadian community?
A: Panorama has grown to include dozens of regional and cultural organizations in the GTA who in turn have hundreds of members who indirectly belong to Panorama.
Our goal has been to instil pride in the Indo-Canadian community and to help showcase our culture in Canada. We have seen the rise of some incredible talent from within our community. One example of that is our Panorama Idol contest which has seen hundreds compete in a Singing competition. The winners have won acclaim not only in Canada but also in the United States!
Q: Does it reach out to the mainstream and other communities?
A: By holding our India Day Festival at Yonge Dundas Square we have exposure to thousands in the mainstream audience. Last year our estimated attendance was between 25,000 and 30,000 as reported by CP24 and 680NEWS. Our mandate rests on three pillars – EDUCATE – CELEBRATE – COLLABORATE. We have programs that inform mainstream about our culture, teach tolerance and instil pride in our people. Other programs in this area include Mathletics Competition for High School Children, Upcoming Debate on Cultural and other issues facing the world and India. We CELEBRATE our people and our culture at all of our events. Most of our events are free and open to the public. We help to showcase our youth via Junior Idol contest, Folk Dance Contest as well as encouraging the various cultural schools to perform at our India Day and Republic Day Festivals. We COLLABORATE with almost all Indo-Canadian cultural organizations as well as with TIFF, the Japanese Cultural Centre, Jewish Organizations, to name a few.
Q) Apart from ID celebrations, does Panorama celebrate other India-centric days or festivals?
A: Yes we celebrate the Republic Day Festival at the end of January at the Pearson Convention Centre. This is where we crown our Panorama Singing Idol. We also host a reception at Queen’s Park for Diwali. In addition, we host a Senior’s Day Event in June which is earmarked in Ontario as Senior’s Month. This year we chose a Senior Singing Idol. The talent was most impressive.
Q: What is on at this year’s celebrations of India’s Independence Day?
A: The festivities start with the singing of patriotic songs at 10 a.m. Flag raising and National Anthems follow at 11.45 a.m. Dignitaries,include High Commissioner Gavai, Consul General Saran, Minister Takhar, Minister Wynne, Minister Best, Senator Asha Seth, retired Senator Vim Kochhar, Patrick Brown, Christine Elliott, Dipika Demerla, etc. The parade which has gone GREEN this year starts immediatel after at about 12.30 pm. The parade will showcase hand-pulled Rickshaws instead of the gas guzzling trucks and floats. The parade will take approximately one hour and travel south on Yonge, West on Queen, North on Bay and then return to the Square traveling East on Dundas. As part of the cultural program, various groups will perform on stage. Our headliner event this year starts at 5 p.m with Dr. Amit Arya’s performance followed by renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma from India. Our past Idol winners and competitors will perform for the audience for 45 minutes leading to the finale with Shweta Subram and her band performing till 8 p.m. We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the parade, the entertainment, the bazaar being held at the Square and sample wonderful food.
Q: Personally, having been the president of ICCC, what is your role as Chair of Panorama India?
A: While ICCC was a trade organization, panorama is a cultural organizations. The stake holders are different but my role has been similar. I work with a wonderful board to deliver quality programming to our membership base. I have put a lot of emphasis on creating the mandate, focusing on the deliverables and executing each event flawlessly. I feel we have done a great deal to enhance the awareness of Panorama India in the last 3 years and I am confident it will continue to evolve and remain the Go-To indo-Canadian cultural organization in Canada. We are grateful to the sponsors and the Consulate for their support.