Toronto came alive this past weekend, as the biggest South Asian festival in Canada kicked off at the Gerrard India Bazaar on Saturday.
Toronto South Asia festival
The oldest and biggest Indian bazaar in North America, Gerrard Street Bazaar, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors during the two-day festival called the TD Festival of South Asia after the sponsoring bank named TD Trust.
Thousands of Canadians thronged the huge bazaar on the opening day to enjoy Indian and other South Asian delicacies as shopkeepers set up temporary stalls and counters on Gerrard Street, which remained closed to traffic during the festival.
Scenes reminiscent of an Indian mela could be seen all around as people thronged sweet shops selling just about every desi delicacy - jalebis, chaat, gol-gappas, faluda, bhutia and sarson ka saag, to name a few - as bands took turns to perform different kind of music on a specially erected stage.
As night dawned, the bazaar became even more crowded as families came out with children to get a glimpse of nightlife in a typical Indian bazaar.
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"I am here to enjoy Indian food," said Australian native Astrid Fauchon as she sat to have henna applied to her hands. "Having spent a fair amount of time in India, I love Indian food, it is so tasty. I heard about this festival and have brought my boyfriend to introduce him to gol-gappa."
Fauchon added: "I love henna as I had it once in Mumbai. I never imagined that something so Indian in character also takes place in Toronto... it is such a wonderful atmosphere."
Young Aly Malcolm, who was also with her boyfriend Matt Talsma, said she heard about the festival on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
"So I am here. I love Indian food, particularly chicken-curry. But today I am looking to try something different," she said.
The festival, which began 10 years ago, has become hugely popular among Canadians, said Inder Jandu, one of the top organizers of the festival.
The burly sardar, who has been running the famous Sonu Sari Emporium in the bazaar for the past 34 years, said, "We are expecting 150,000 visitors to the festival this year. We had just 5,000 visitors when we started this festival 10 years ago, and the numbers are just multiplying each year. We are spending more than $140,000 for various activities and arrangements."
(Global India Newswire)
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