By Balwant Sanghera
VANCOUVER: Summer is usually a very busy time for sports, recreational and cultural activities. This is more so in the Indo-Canadian and the larger South Asian communities.
Take for example, last Sunday, August 18. The centre of the South Asian community, Surrey, had a number of activities going on this day. These included a major Kabaddi tournament at Bell Centre, a tribute/book release at the Newton Library and celebration of India’s Independence Day at Laxmi Narain Mandir at 140 Street and 83rd Avenue.
Kabaddi has become a very popular sport both in India and abroad. It is a great way to get our youth involved not only in Kabaddi but also in other sports like soccer, basketball, baseball and hockey etc. It gives the young people an opportunity to excel rather than getting hooked on to drugs and other unhealthy life styles. Efforts to promote these sports in Canada are commendable. So are the efforts to make our youth and adults aware of the life and work of great personalities like Sirdar Kapur Singh.
The Punjabi Adbi Sangat Literary Society, under Jaiteg Singh Anant’s leadership, has been doing an excellent job in this regard. This Society organized an impressive function to commemorate the 27th death anniversary of Sirdar Kapur Singh on Sunday, August 18, at the Newton Library in Surrey. Sirdar Kapur Singh was a great thinker, intellectual and writer. An award in honour of Sirdar Kapur Singh was presented to a deserving individual.
At this function, a book titled Sikhs in Hong Kong by Gulbir Singh Batra, was also released. Mr. Anant and his team must be commended for spearheading such noble tasks. Same goes for the organizers of India’s Independence Day celebration at Laxmi Narain Mandir.
Organizers at the Hindu Mandir and the Hindu Sikh Forum of North America did an excellent job in bringing large number people to the ninth celebration of India’s Independence Day. The Temple premises were overflowing with thousands of people of various nationalities and backgrounds. The day started with wrestling competition. It was quite a treat to watch some of the young competitors display their excellent wrestling skills.
The parade representing people and cultures of different provinces of India and some other countries was very much appreciated by the audience. Free food stalls all over the Temple premises had long line ups. Also, the Temple’ community kitchen was very busy serving food to the attendees.
The parade was followed by singing national anthems of Canada and India. The attendees observed a minute of silence as a tribute to all of the freedom fighters who gave up their lives for the freedom of India.
Politicians of all stripes, including federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenny, his NDP critic and Surrey- North Delta MP, Jinny Sims, Surrey North MP Jasbir Sandhu, Surrey Fleetwood MP Nina Grewal, provincial Education minister Peter Fasbender, NDP MLAs Bruce Ralston, Harry Bains, Sue Hammel, Indian Consul and Head of Chancery, R.Chandramouli as well as a number other VIPs offered their greetings and good wishes to those present and thanked the organizers.
A very lively cultural program followed the formal part of the ceremony. It included dances of various kinds-Ganesh Vandana, Bharatnatyam ,Bhangra, classical and folk etc. The cultural program concluded with an impressive performance by Aditya’s Bollywood Dance School.
All of these events held on the same day in the same city and within a few kilometers of each other had one common thread. They had a direct link to India. Not only that, they were also a wonderful reflection of the South Asian community’s growth and development in Canada.
All of these celebrations were an excellent vehicle to appreciate the South Asian community’s heritage and connection with India. At the same time they were a commendable way to help our youth become proud of their heritage . The organizers as well as volunteers at all of these events deserve our thanks and appreciation.
(Balwant Sanghera, who has been honoured with the Order of British Columbia, is a retired school psychiatrist and community leader who lives in Richmond in British Columbia)