TORONTO: Indian Independence celebrations had a novel and fun element this year. About one and a half dozen richly decorated rickshaws led the downtown parade, pulling some of the VIPs around the parade route under overcast conditions at the weekend.
Among the VIPs enjoying the rickshaw ride were Senator Asha Seth and Indian high commissioner S.M. Gavai’s wife Reena as well as Miss India-Canada Akhina Mooken.
“We have hired 17 rickshaws from rickshawservices.com for today’s parade – the route is less than two kilometres,’’ said Ajit Khanna, chairman of Panorama India which organized the celebrations.
“We have brought in rickshaws to rid the downtown core and our parade of the pollution created by the trucks we used in the past parades…I thought it would be good to replace them with rickshaws that can (also) be decorated to add colour and vibrancy (to our celebrations),’’ Khanna added.
Indeed, the rickshaws – decorated in bright Indian national colours and India Tourism posters – brightened up the mood under drizzling conditions.
And covered in various ethnic dresses, rickshaw riders seemed to be having fun as they waved to people on the sidewalks as the parade went down Yonge, then west on Queen, then north on Bay and finally marching east towards Dundas.
To add to fun and amusement, there were six sidewalk `performing stations’ where artists performed as the parade went by.
“I just wanted to generate interest before the parade arrived to the specific point they were performing at. We have dancers from various regions of India at these performing stations,’‘said Khanna.
Indeed, the performing stations seemed to be a big hit as passersby stood to watch and take photos of the artists.
And just like the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi, miniature floats from various states of India formed part of the Toronto parade.
The novel idea of adding rickshaws to the celebrations seemed like a big hit. As Indian high commissioner Gavai said jokingly, “Who knows he (Ajit Khanna) may have elephants next year.’’