Toronto will echo to the sounds of raagas in May ’16 as spring arrives


Who knew Toronto was a pulse centre for classical (Hindustani and Carnatic) music? Check out the events calendar for May ’16, you’ll know what we mean


Painting shows emperor Akbar watching Tansen receive music lessons from Haridas. Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Check out South Asian events happening in Toronto May 2016

May 6 to 8

Event: FOLD
Details: Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) is Canada’s first-ever literary festival, promoting authors of colour. The three-day event happening across multiple venues in Brampton has some 30 authors. Literary heavyweights include Zarqa Nawaz, author/series creator, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Lawrence Hill (Book of Negroes), Vivek Shraya, Farzana Doctor and others.
Contact: For tickets and programs contact here

Sunday, May 8

Details: Raag-Mala Society of Canada is hosting an Indian classical concert featuring Arshad Ali Khan (vocal) and Shreyas Ambikar (santoor) at the McLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Circle Toronto at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets, contact here

Saturday, May 14 to 15

Details: Toronto Tabla Ensemble is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a concert at Harbourfront Centre (Brigantine Room), 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. Ritesh Das is the artistic director and he will showcase the similarities of many musical cultures and perform original compositions by members. May 14 concert starts at 7 p.m. and on May 15 it will kick-off at 3 p.m.
Contact: Here

Details: Rosemin Bapoo will host Karamchand Persaud (vocals), Dave Bansraj (tabla) and melodies by Ami Sharma at an evening celebrating ghazals and geets. The show happening at Simply Delicious, 7850 Woodbine Ave. Markham at 8:30 p.m.
Contact: Rosemin, 647-215-9749 or Mary, 416-287-2667

Thursday, May 19 to Monday, 23

Details: Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan and writer/director Anup Singh (Quissa – The Tale of Lonely Ghost) are among those celebrities that will be in Toronto for the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA)/Punjabi International Film Festival taking place across various venues in the GTA. More than 80 films will be showcased at this year’s event.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 21

Details: He’s known as the “Flying Sikh” or the “Turbaned Torndado.” 100-year-old Fauja Singh is flying to Brampton to participate in the Stop Diabetes Foundations’ event happening at Canadian Convention Centre, 79 Bramsteele Rd. between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Here

Thursday, May 25 to 28

Event: desiFEST
Details: desiFEST, an outdoor South Asian music concert will celebrate its 10th year. There’s an artists’ marketplace, food market and live entertainment planned at Yonge-Dundas Square. Oh, guess what? desiFEST, in partnership with sponsor Harley Davidson will be giving away a 2016 Street 500 valued at $7,999 to one lucky desiFEST fan.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 28

Details: The Malhar Group will be hosting Indian classical concert featuring Shakir Khan (sitar), Kiran Morarji (tabla), Nirmalya Dey (drupad), Mohan Shyam Sharma (pakhawaj) at The Molson Canadian Studio at Hamilton Place, 1 Summers Ln. Concert starts at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Details: Laughter, they say is the best medicine. So, why not show up at Albion Cinema, 1530 Albion Rd. at 7 p.m. for a poetry convention filled with humour. Who else to organize such a thing than the Uttar Pradeshis in Canada, eh?
Contact: Here

Details: PGI’s popular Masala Masti Boat Cruise VI is happening at 8 p.m. at 242 Cherry St. Toronto. There’s live entertainment, food and much more.
Contact: Here

This Jabra’s rap song about the Toronto Raptors is a slam-dunk


“Take a seat and enjoy the Masai Ujiri show. I got the black and gold on me like I’m OVO. I put the 6 on my back like I’m Cory Jo,” raps Rajan in his viral video that pays homage to the Toronto Raptors.

When talent fuses with passion, the alchemy becomes amazing.

Want proof? Meet, Rajan Gahunia, 21. His anthem, a musical ode, to the Toronto Raptors has gone viral and created a literal frenzy.

Every hoopster addict out there (yours truly included) will undoubtedly experience a surge of adrenaline when they watch the slick  – Northside Since 1995.

“This song is 100 per cent from the perspective of a fan,” Rajan told Toronto Desi Diaries. “It’s my dream to perform (the jam) at the centre court (at ACC). I want to tell people they should dream big and that dreams do come true…”


Rajan Gahunia, 21, a Toronto Rapper’s video Northside since 1995 is creating more than a buzz. Supplied photo.

Rajan, a fourth-year television and broadcasting student at Senecca College, dropped the single four days ago. The track has since garnered some 25,000 views on YouTube and 80,000 “likes” on Facebook. This, after Raptors’ guard DeMar DeRozan, gave a shout out to the song by re-tweeting the video to his 459K followers.

T.V analyst Leo Rautens, Sportsnet, Metro News, Huff Post, you name it all give their thumbs up to the aspiring rap musician who doesn’t want his music to fit into “a box.”

It has no doubt been an exciting and exhilarating few days for the 21-year-old. He says the plan is to build on the current success.

The genesis of the video came about few weeks ago as Rajan and his dad–both hardcore hoop fans– were watching the game. His dad suggested an anthem may be in order.

“I loved the idea of combining my two passions: music and basketball,” Rajan said. “My brother made the beat which I liked. I didn’t want the song to be too corny. I wanted  lines that people could sing or chant…”

Chant they will as Raptors head to the playoffs.

“It’s not everyday you see a Desi rapper, but my dad believes in me and appreciates the hard work I put into my music,” Rajan said. “It’s my dad’s blessings that has all made this possible. I am thrilled my music is getting all this attention and just as thrilled to see the smile on my dad’s face.”

Growing up Rajan’s dad enrolled him in the Vince Carter Basketball Camp. He says he didn’t have an aptitude, but his love for his hometown team has remained steady and unwavering.

Northside since 1995 took about a week to produce and about three days to edit.

The crowning point of Rajan’s young existence may have been when during a meet-and-greet autograph session, he came face-to-face with his favourite Raptor: DeRozan. He rapped him a sample verse.

The #10 asked him if the music was his, shook hands and told Rajan, “Amazing, man, good luck with that…”

The Raptors have ended their season on a high note with a new franchise record (56-26) and will face the Indiana Pacers. Rajan admits he can’t afford the pricey tickets. Who can? The only way he can watch the game is to cheer his team with his anthem during the half time slot perhaps?

C’mon, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), give this “Jabra (fan)” a chance.



Rajan Gahunia, 21, a Toronto Rapper’s video Northside Since 1995 is creating more than a buzz. Supplied photo.





Spring events (April 2016) in Toronto to thaw your winter-weary hearts

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Gurdeep Ubhi’s fundraiser Let’s Nach happening, Saturday, April 2 at Chandini Convention Centre, 5 Gateway Blvd. promises to be an evening to remember. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Saturday, April 2

Event: Sikh Heritage Month

Details: Peel Art Gallery Archives and Museum (PAMA) 9 Wellington St., has a fantastic line-up of events all month long. Twin sisters and artists Amrit and Rabindra Singh will make a rare appearance in Canada March 31 to April 2 to launch their three-month exhibit. Admission is free for April.
Contact: Here


Event: Let’s Nach
Details: Brampton resident Gurdeep Ubhi is hosting a fundraiser–Let’s Nach (Dance)– in memory of her son. The evening will feature Latina, Punjabi and belly dancers, Indo-fusion cuisine, raffles and auction and is taking place at the Chandini Convention Centre, 5 Gateway Blvd. at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here


Event: Holi Hai
Details: An annual dinner/show celebrating Holi taking place at Vishnu Mandir Banquet Hall, 8640 Yonge St. Richmond Hill at 5:30 p.m.
Contact: 905-886-1724 or Here


Sunday, April 3

Event: Muslim Womenpreneurs Expo
Details: Muslim women entrepreneurs will be exhibiting their fare at this trade show taking place at Milan Banquet Hall, 1989 Dundas St. E. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Contact: Here


Saturday, April 9

Event: Mehfil and Surtaal
Details: Surtaal Cultural Promotions is hosting an evening of Indian Classical music. Artists include Satninder (vocals), Pinky (Tabla) Ramesh (Sarangi) and Harmeet (harmonium). The concert is happening at Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Dr. at 6:30 p.m. Cost of tickets is $20 and $35.
Contact: Mohan Dahaley, 416-624-5713 or Bedi Dhiman, 647-861-5060



April (TBD)

Event: Punjabi Film Festival
Details: The BMO International Film Festival of South Asia [IFFSA] in collaboration with Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF) has arrived. The festival launches with five days of buzz events in April followed by festival weekend from May 19-23, in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Milton and Oakville.
Contact: Here


Sunday, April 17

Event: Pflag Peel
Details: The of the new Peel Chapter of Pflag Canada, with special focus on the South Asian diaspora will take place at Versailles Convention Centre – 6721 Edwards Blvd., Mississauga from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This event will bring together many from the lthe South Asian community as well as dignitaries, such as Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 23

Event: Vishu 2016
Details: OHM Cultural Associaion is hosting Vishu celebration for Keralites at the Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Dr. in Mississauga at 5:3o p.m.
Contact: Here