2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-4

Returning this year was the Fourth Annual Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala held in Chinatown’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden last night. Again, the beautiful setting was transformed into a colourful mix of South Asian glamour, cuisine, and entertainment to kick off the Indian Summer Festival.

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-16
[CBC News weather reporter Johanna Wagstaffe]

This year, there were more restaurants added, with tasty bites offered by Vancouver restaurants Atithi Indian Cuisine (Bangladesh), Bob Likes Thai Food (Thailand), Vij’s (India), Bao Bei (China), Blue Water Café (Japan), Bella Gelateria (selection of Asian gelato flavours), and Café Kathmandu (for a soothing Chai to finish off the meal).

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[Blue Water Café’s Lingcod and Dungeness crab cakes with pickled Burdock root]

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-6
[Chicken Kachori from Vij’s Restaurant]

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-12
[James of Bella Gelateria scoops up Indian flavoured gelato for Mijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie]

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-5
[Bob Likes Thai Food prepping spicy Papaya Salad]

The garden (including the charming side patios) and its inner rooms were utilized to create a memorable evening for a packed crowd of guests, media, and local musicians and celebrities.

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[Middle photo: Sitarist Mohamed Assani]

More photos of the evening can be found in my Flickr set.

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[Atithi Masala Muri, Bao Bei’s Chef Joel Watanabe, Vikram Vij offering guests his Chicken Kachori]

A few key highlights of this year’s festival include a weekend of Sufi poetry and music headlined by American poet and interpreter Coleman Barks, responsible for making 13th-century Persian poet Rumi a household name in North America. 100 Ways to Kiss the Ground will be held at St. Andrews-Wesley Church (corner of Nelson and Burrard), set to live music by renowned sitarist Mohamed Assani and barbat maestro Hossein Behroozinia.

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-20
[L to R: Neelamjit Dhillon, Coleman Barks, Hamin Honari]

On day four of the 10-day festival will feature Passages: Cultural Legacies of the Komagata Maru at Museum of Vancouver. Enjoy an evening of cross-media storytelling with The Neelamjit Dhillon Jazz Quartet and poets Phinder Dulai, Renee Saklikar, and Priscila Uppal (whose latest book, Projection, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.

2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala/Festival Artistic Director Sirish Rao
[Festival Artistic Director Sirish Rao]

“Whether rooted in food, dance, music, literature, business, politics or social justice, Indian Summer is proud to host exciting dialogues concerning both the history and the future of Canada’s relationship with South Asia”, according to Festival Artistic Director Sirish Rao.

For the first time in Canada, London-based speakers series 5×15 will come to Vancouver through Indian Summer, in a lineup of five speakers (15 minutes each, hence the title) at The Fox Cabaret. Look for Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz and spoken word legend Ivan Coyote.

Indian Summer Festival will culminate in two very cool events: Lit & Sound Cabaret on July 11 (slam poetry, music, DJs), and Dinner by Starlight on July 12 (held each year at a secret location, revealed to guests two days before the dinner). Chef Vikram Vij will create a four course meal for only 150 guests, including special guest of honour The Dabbawalas of Mumbai.

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Visit the Indian Summer Festival website for a complete schedule.

About Indian Summer Festival
Indian Summer is an annual festival of arts and ideas that celebrates diversity by pairing world-class South Asian talent with local Canadian counterparts. The 10-day festival is held every July at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in downtown Vancouver, and is produced by Indian Summer Arts Society, a local not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to foster cultural dialogue.

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