Remember Kolaveri? music director Anirudh stops by Toronto for concert

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Anirudh Ravichander, South Indian music director of Kolaveri fame is coming to Toronto (Brampton) for a concert, Saturday, Dec. 12. Check out our list of other events happening in and around Toronto in December.

Anirudh Ravichander, South Indian music director of Kolaveri fame, is coming to Toronto (Brampton) for a concert, Saturday, Dec. 12. Check out our list of other events happening in and around Toronto in December.

Wednesday, Dec. 2
Event: Red and White Gala
Details: Canadian South Asians Supporting Independent Living (C-SASIL) is hosting its annual Red and White Gala at Shingar Banquet Hall, 2084 Steeles Ave. E. Tickets cost $60/person.
Contact: Harvinder Bajwa, 905-799-7274.

Friday, Dec. 11
Event: Brown Canadian
Details: Council of Agencies serving South Asians (CASSA) will be hosting its 2nd annual Brown Canadian 2020 Summit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at York University (Founders College Assembly Hall), 4700 Keele St. in Toronto. The purpose of the conference is to understand: Where South Asians are at in Canada and secondly to formulate a plan to respond to the needs of the community.
Contact: Gloria Kim, email: gloria@cassa.on.ca or call 416-932-1359 (ext. 12)

Saturday, Dec. 12
Event: Anirudh Concert
Details: Arya Canada will present Anirudh Live at Brampton’s Powerade Centre, 7575 Kennedy Rd. S. at 6 p.m. Anirudh Ravichander is a film composer/singer whose song Why this Kolaveri Di went viral on YouTube with 100 million views. He’s the nephew of Rajnikanth and is part of a band called Zinx.
Contact: Tickets can be purchased here

Event: Chill 2015
Details: The Canadian Malayalee Association (CMA) is hosting its CMA Chill 2015 Meet and Greet at Payal Banquet Hall, 3410 Semenyk Crt. in Mississauga at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Event: Dance Competition
Details: Love Birds 2016 dance competition auditions are taking place at ONEROOF Studios, 2244 Drew Rd. Unit 6 in Mississauga. The grand finale will happen, Feb. 5, 2016.
Contact: dancewithlovebirds@gmail.com or call 647-897-7210

Event: My Room Music Video
Details: Mukta Advertising will host the world premiere of Sirens of Shanti’s music video, My Room, at Lula Lounge, Toronto, Ontario M6J 1T9, 1585 Dundas St. W. in Toronto at 7 p.m. Juno Award nominee Tony Singh aka Punjabi By Nature will also be there
Contact: Here

Saturday, Dec. 19
Event: Bollywood music
Details: Chinguacousy Secondary School, 1370 Williams Pkwy. in Brampton will host Bollywood Musical Night at 5 p.m. There will be live music. Deepak Gandhi and Orchestra will provide live entertainment. Music includes old and new Bollywood hits.

Friday, Dec. 25
Event: Nawaabi Shaam
Details: Ajaay Modi Entertainment is bringing Nawaabi Shaam: Sharab, kabab and shabab ke naam featuring royal gharanas of Lucknow & Hydrabad with the Jhankaar of ghungroos, mehak of the gajras. Sounds interesting.
Interested? Show up in ethnic (serwanis, Jodhpuris, Achkans and kurta pyajamas.
Contact: Here

Dec. 31
Event: New Year Dhamaka
Details: There are so many happening in and around the GTA it just wasn’t possible for me to list them all. Pick your venue. Have fun.

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Professor Surinder Singh’s music brings forgotten notes to life

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Prof. Surinder Singh (in the centre) delights the audience with sounds from forgotten musical instruments that defined Sikh spirituality. Photo courtesy of Harbiz Inc.

Prof. Surinder Singh (in the centre) delights the audience with sounds from forgotten musical instruments that defined Sikh spirituality.
Photo courtesy of Harbirz Inc.

The singing Sikh

When a regal looking Sikh in an azure blue Sherwani began to play few bars of music on the Saranda, it was powerful and emotional experience.

The Saranda, an ancient Indian instrument, dating some 500 years or more, had all but disappeared from our society. The string and skin instruments such as rabab, Jori (a tabla-type drum), taus, and dilruba were an integral part of the Kirtans sessions delivered by Sikh spiritual leaders like Guru Arjun, Guru Gobind Singh and others. Their pure notes travelled across the room in perfect resonance. Remember, it was an era devoid of mics, expensive sound systems and amplifiers.

Music and prayer went hand-in-hand and an enlightened soul was the byproduct of this union.

Slowly, over the years, the ubiquitous harmonium, nudged these vessels of sublime sounds out. A few of instruments from the bygone era found their way into British museums where they languished in anonymity until a musician on a quest to decipher the meaning of the Sikh Shabds (scriptures) stumbled upon them.

Surinder Singh, popularly known as Prof. Surinder Singh, founder, director of Raj Academy, a United Kingdom (U.K.)-based organization, with branches here in Toronto, has devoted his life to the revival of the Sikh musical heritage. His students learn Gurmat Sangeet and Naad (sound) yoga.

The spirit of music

Prof. Surinder Singh seen here playing the saranda. The ancient musical instrument which had faded into obscurity has been revived by Surinder Singh. Photo courtesy, Harbirz Inc.

Prof. Surinder Singh seen here playing the saranda. The ancient musical instrument which had faded into obscurity has been revived by Surinder Singh.
Photo courtesy, Harbirz Inc.

When Surinder saw the beautiful instruments tucked away in museums, he thought it was sacrilege that “his music was in prison.” So, he liberated them.

At 13, while learning Indian classical music, a young Surinder questioned his gurus – Pandits Kharaiti Lal Tahim and Mahant Ajit Singh, on the underlying meanings of the raagas and scriptures and how they mattered.

His wise teachers told him to embrace meditation or else, they said he would have to make room for medication. Those words didn’t hit home, until an accident at 19 incapacitated him physically and psychologically. It was then he understood music’s power to heal the body.

“My spiritual yearning and my curiosity led me to ask my gurus the meaning behind the Shabds or a particular raga and how they were relevant to me daily life,” Singh said. “As I looked deeper and deeper into ancient India’s science of sound, I followed the path and the footprints led me to England.”

Surinder Singh searched and found two individuals in India that could carve wood to perfection and install natural gut strings into rababs and sarandas. much like the way other craftsmen did more than 500 years ago.

When coaxed, the instruments, under a skilled musician’s fingers or the tanti saaj as the people that master the Gurumat Sangeet are known, produce sounds that soothe the restless mind create a spiritual awakening.

“In the Western world (England, Russia, U.S. Canada and others) there are 3,000 musicians today that are playing the music and applying the science behind them,” he explained. “So many of them have experienced the healing power of the music and found relief from diseases. This is what pulled me in. I am honestly telling you, I am the happiest and healthiest person walking…there’s no question. This is what music gave me.”

Sublime, surreal and sacred

Singh says listening to the tanti saaj deliver the ragas can transport a soul into a state of bliss. I can attest to that. I heard few bars and felt the tension seep away as the music percolated my psyche.

“The instrument is known as the shadow of your voice,” Surinder Singh said. “There’s this guy, Raj who makes these old Sikh instruments and his father was a third-generation artist who taught him to study the wood and the temperament of music, the string and how to measure those…when I approached this guy, he agreed to make the instruments and the ones he made are identical to the ones I saw in the museum.”

Students of Raj Academy showcase ancient musical instruments that defined Sikh spirituality. Photo by Harbriz Inc.

Students of Raj Academy showcase ancient musical instruments that defined Sikh spirituality.
Photo by Harbriz Inc.

The student and her story

Jasvir Kaur, a student of the Raj Academy and a rabab player, said music became her salvation when the death of her brother pushed her into an abyss of misery.

The Sikh rabab or Firandia rabab is a lute-like instrument and is a precursor to the Sarangi. It has a deep, soulful tempo. It was the choice instrument of Guru Nanak or the “singing guru” as Jasvir calls him.

“One can connect with the philosophy of Guru Nanak through music,” Jasvir, 32, told Toronto Desi Diaries. “His message was universal and beyond the constraints of religion. It didn’t have boundaries. I wanted to connect with the energy, so I started to learn music from “professor ji” (Surinder Singh). When I started, I learned dilruba, another string instrument that’s played with a bow after four years of training with that, I moved to the rabab.”

“For me, this is who I am. My music is not separate from me,” she continued. “The raagas used within Sikh music are there for very specific reason – to help you tune your mind and soul, so that you can learn to communicate with yourself. When you’re at peace, you can share and project that with the outside world. In some of my more difficult days, this was my lifeline.”

For a sample of the music, watch the video below. You will be lifted. I guarantee.

Let the records show, Toronto sure knows how to make a noise for Diwali

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Nrithyakshetra Dance Academy

Dancers from Nrithyakshetra Dance Academy are among those that will be part in the Diwali festival celebrations at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Deewa, the Festival of Lights is hosted by Maple Diversity Foundation, Nov. 14.

Here’s a list of desi events happening in and around Toronto, November, 2015

Friday, Nov. 6sacred sounds
Event: Sacred sounds of Ancient India
Details: Prof. Surinder Singh, founder of Raj Academy, and students of the school are promising the audience a spectacular journey through time with soulful acoustic sounds from traditional Indian Instruments. Concert is taking place at Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Dr. Brampton from 7-9 p.m.
Contact: Karanjeet Singh, 416-899-0843 or email: karanjeet@rajacademy.com.

Friday, Nov. 6 to Sunday, Nov. 8
BCC DiwaliFestEvent: Canada Dry DiwaliFest
Details: Stop by the Bramalea City Centre, 25 Peel Centre Dr. for exciting live performances, a dance competition, a glamorous fashion show, family friendly activities, mascots, photo booth, free samples giveaways and a chance to win fabulous prizes from our festival lucky draw.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Nov. 7Bihar-Diaries-Poster-1
Event: Bihar Diaries – A Tale of Lies
Details: PGI International and Yaar Entertainment are hosting a play Bihar Diaries, a slice-of-life story about the dysfunctional folks including the fictional mayor of Bihar, his daughter Baby and wife Jalebi. Directed by Vaibhav Parashar, the play will unfold at Michael Power St. Joseph School, 105 Eringate Dr. Etobicoke. Show starts at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15/person.
Contact: For tickets and other information, contact here.

Saturday, Nov. 14
Arjun sunset photo IMG_6566ARJUN2015Event: Deewa – The Festival of Lights
Details: Maple Diversity Foundation, a Mississauga not-for-profit, will host award-winning R&B artist Arjun from U.K. who’s headlining the festival, Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Living Arts Centre from 1 p.m. onwards.
The day-long event has plenty of activities for the whole family, a fashion show by Satya Paul Canada, performances by Sanskriti Arts & Entertainment and more
Contact: Here

Saturday, Nov. 14
Event: Mha PujaMha Puja
Details: Nepalis from the GTA are coming together to celebrate Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat (New Year). Mha Puja is a cultural event of purification, strengthening and understanding of oneself, and man’s relationship with nature and cosmos. The event by Canadian New Guthi will take place at Brampton Tower Hall, 85 Charolais Blvd. Brampton from 4:30 p.m. onwards. Cost of admission is $25/person (adults) and $15/person (Children 12 and below and seniors).
Contact: Bimal Man Shrestha, 416-705-6672

Wednesday, Nov. 18
nirbhayaEvent: Nirbhaya (play)
Details: Based on the horrific event Dec. 16. 2012 when a medical student was brutally raped and killed, Nirbhaya became a catchphrase in India and elsewhere. Montreal-based writer and director Yaël Farbe and Nightwood Theatre are bringing a riveting play adapted from the real-life events. Play runs from Nov. 18- 29 at the Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. Toronto and stars Priyanka Bose, Poorna Jagannathan, Sneha Jawale, Rukhsar Kabir, Japjit Kaur, Pamela Mala Sinha and Ankur Vikal.
Contact: For tickets, contact here.

Thursday, Nov. 26
Event: Spirit of IndiaSpirit-of-India-Web
Details: Rahis Bharti and the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India invite you on a lively musical journey from Rajasthan to Mumbai. Spirit of India, a musical will happen at The Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. Brampton at 8 p.m.
Contact: For tickets, contact here.