Lakshmi Narayan Temple celebrates 77th Indian Independence Day at Scarborough Civic Centre

Setting for the Independence Day Celebration at the Scarborough Civic Centre

Organized by the Hindu Cultural Society (Scarborough) the 77th Indian Independence Day was observed at the Scarborough Civic Centre from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. on Aug 15, 2023 under the auspicious leadership of Ashwani Bhardwaj, the President of Hindu Cultural Society, all the other devotees and Board of Directors
, and Board of Trustees.

A large Indian diaspora in colorful attires with many wearing the colours of our National flag thronged the Civic Centre. An atmosphere of joy and excitement prevailed among approximately 800 Indian diaspora from different cultures gathered together to celebrate the 77th Indian Independence Day. The seating arrangement was on all the three sides of the front stage which was controlled by Ashwani Bhardwaj and all other leaders responsible for organizing the event. Due to the inclement weather conditions, the event was held inside the Civic Centre.

The guests present at the celebration included MP Salma Zahid, MPP Raymond Cho. MPP Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP Stephnaie Bowman, MPP Andrea Hazel, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie (presenting sponsor), and Councilor Jamal Myers.

The stage was taken over by Ashwani Bhardwaj and the celebration started with Vandematram music and dance performances.

Vandemantram music and dance was a tribute to our Motherland. The music was composed by none other than Panwar Dance and Music Academy owned by Hemant Panwar.

Panwar Dance and Music Academy is dedicated towards the promotion, preservation and propagation of South Asian heritage through classes in Kathak, Harmonium and Vocals. The training curriculum was prepared jointly by Hemant and Vaishali Panwar based on their extensive experience in Indian and abroad.  

First dance performance

Following is the message from the member of Parliament Salma Zahid.

Vandematram and the dance was performed by Nritya Kala Mandir. It was a dream of Kanan Bhatt, Nritya Kala Mandir’s founder director, to bring ethnic dance to every individual who had inclination, interest, and passion for the art forms and thus to keep the ethnic culture alive in the hearts of the younger generation. This aspiration accompanied by the dedication for dance led Kanan to start mentoring dance enthusiasts in Bharatnatyam, an Indian classical dance which laid the foundation of Nritya Kala Mandir in 1987, initially in Ahmedabad, and later in Toronto, Canada in 2021. During these 15 years, students of Nritya Kala Mandir have consistently performed in Indian classical, folk dance in Bollywood styles in countless community and cultural celebrations in and around Greater Toronto Area. 

Bhangra is a type of traditional folk dance of Punjab area of South Asia. It is done in the season of harvesting and is especially associated with the Vaisakhi festival. In a typical performance, several dancers executed vigorous kicks, leaps with thrusting arm or shoulder movem entsto the accompaniment of short songs. 

The Board of Directors of the temple are: Ashwani Bhardwaj-president; Manjit Rehan-Vice-President, Virender Guleria-Secretary, Kamal Arora-Treasurer, Kusum Sharma-P.R. Office, Gulsham Sharma-Director of Kitchen Operations, Raminder Bhatti-Director, Building Operations.

Board of Trustees of the temple are: Ashwani Joshi-Chairman, Pradeep Sharma-Secretary, other trustees include Ashok Kaushal, Prem Sharma, and Raj Bassi.

Jennifer McKelvie, Deputy Mayor of Toronto and City Councillor for Scarborough-Rouge Park was the presenting sposor

Ashwani Ji then welcomed the ICICI Bank chiefs who were the sponsors of the celebration and handed over the stage to them. The audience gave a big applause to them.

ICICI Bank/Canada was the Title sponsor.

Rang De Basanti performance by the participants witnessed Flags waved over them by Ashwani Bhardwaj and other devotees of the Temple.

Masters of ceremony included: Ashwani Bhardwaj, Kusum Sharma, Vidya Guleria, and

Surekha Tripathi

Acharya Brijmojan Thaplival opened the ceremony with Swasti Vachan

After the celebration was over packed food was served to all the audiences.

S.K. Desai, long time devotee and volunteer

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)