This Toronto love story has Farah the Jatti yearning for her Jatt

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This blog post has two stories of exceptional Toronto desis.

A snow-woman created to look like a South-Asian bride

This desi snow-woman created by Jassu Kingra, 19, Daljit Warraich, Navi, 15, and Bini, 9, created quite a stir on social media on account of the unorthodox take on Frosty the Snowman. Photo: Jassu Kingra (@jamsbyjassuk)

It’s winter and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has had some snow activity, including one a few weeks ago when Ma Nature dumped several centimetres of white stuff on unsuspecting folks, Remember that one? Creativity is when you take the raw ingredients nature throws at you and you turn it into a viral work of art.

Everyone, meet, Farah the Jatti aka Saddi Juliet, snowwoman extraordinaire.

Rotund Saddi Juliet was decked in wedding finery. She wore an eye-catching crimson dupatta, accessorized with heavy gold (fake, obviously) jewelry, including a necklace, earrings, and maang (forehead) tikka and even fake eyelashes.

Her creators? A couple of enterprising Brampton teens– Jassu Kingra, 19, Daljit Warraich Navi, 15, and Bini, 9.

It was Daljit’s first winter in Canada. She wanted to stack the packed snow into a winter-tradition—a snowman so that she could show off to her relatives in India. Except, the empowered girls decided Frosty the Snowman was passé.

There’s a hint of mystery to the whole exercise that will only likely be revealed when Brampton gets another substantial showering of snow (at least enough to build, I presume a desi “Jatti” a male counterpart). We can’t wait.

The desi snow-woman literally broke Twitter (84,000 tweeps “liked” her and hundreds of others showed love on Instagram and Reddit).

Art is art, even when it’s fleeting.

Here’s to the girls who warmed the hearts of everyone with their cool creation.

                                              ****

A Mother’s Love: This cookbook has South Asian recipes with a flavourful twist

Jasmine Dayal, Toronto lawyer and cookbook author

Jasmine Dayal, a Toronto lawyer’s recently published a cookbook, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys features several South Asian recipes with East African flavours.
Photo submitted by Jasmine Dayal

Jasmine Dayal, I imagine, is always happy to swap the black robes—she wears to court as a lawyer— for an apron.

In her book, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, released some months ago, Jasmine shares Indian appetizers with East African influences.

There are several familiar and some unfamiliar starters and entrees such as samosas, spicy crepes, beet and arvi bhajias, and others.

“As an experienced home cook, I have always loved collaborating in the kitchen with my mother, Shan,” Jasmine admits. “My mother is a creative and inspiring cook
and I learned my way around the kitchen by looking over her shoulder. It was a no-brainer to join forces with her to produce my first cookbook that reveals many of our family recipes. I cannot wait for everyone to get a taste of all the flavourful and delectable meals I grew up eating.”

Jasmine is also the founder of a lifestyle website JD in the Kitchen. Here you can check out recipes, learn about the spices that make Indian cooking bold and flavourful, and browse through an online store where you can buy her three books, yes, she has three of them, and some of the fresh spices she uses in her recipes.

A photo of skewer of kababs.

Jasmine Dayal’s cookbook: JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, features several appetizers and starters with East African flavours. These skewers of Ismaili Bhajia made with chickpea flour, potatoes, and other spices are a true definition of comfort food. Photo supplied by Jasmine Dayal.

JD in the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, is a slim 81-page cookbook with recipes that are not elaborate. They are ideal for both novices as well as aspiring cooks.

Jasmine started JD In the Kitchen website, as a portal to shares her love for cooking. Despite juggling a hectic schedule, it appears Jasmine carves time to make meals for her family. What’s more, she’s generous enough to share the recipes.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Jasmine’s career as an articling student started in 2005 at Fireman Wolfe LLP. She became an associate at the same firm and is now a partner in the firm that now carries her name – Jasmine Daya & Co., Impressive no?

JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys is now available on Amazon and on her website.

A bowl of green chutney

This green chutney prepared with cilantro and green chilies is a perfect dance partner to almost all appetizers. Toronto lawyer, mom, and cooking enthusiast Jasmine Dayal creates several recipes in her just-published cookbook, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys. Photo supplied by Jasmine Dayal.

Here’s the recipe for the Ismaili Bhajia (featured above)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons of green chili puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch round slices
  • Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the potatoes and oil to create a smooth batter.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Note: There should be enough oil for the potato slice to sink to the bottom and become submerged.
  3. Take one potato slice at a time, dip it into the chickpea batter, coat well and then place it gently into the oil. Cook for about a minute and then flip it to cook the other side.
  4. Remove, place the Bhajia on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  5. Enjoy it with green chutney (recipe in Jasmine’s book).
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Wishing you a very Happy Diwali, Toronto!

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A copper idol of Goddess Lakshmi in midst of red flowers

Hindus worldwide will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 7. The festival is marked by prayers to Goddess Lakshmi.

Friday, Nov. 2

Event: Diwali Dhamaka

Details: Celebrate Diwali Dhamaka with the KC Group. Celebrations are happening at the Bombay Palace, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Diwali Dhamaka visit here

Saturday, Nov. 3

Event: Diwali Dance Night

Details: Head to the party room at the Greenbriar Recreation Centre, 1100 Central Park Dr. at 7:45 p.m. Organizers are promising music, food, and fun to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Hindu Heritage Month Celebrations

Details: November is Hindu Heritage Month. Commemorate the month at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more details visit here

Event: Anokhi Media anniversary event

Details: Anokhi Media will celebrate its 15th anniversary in a two-day event taking place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto Hotel at 123 Queen St. W. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, Nov. 9

Event: Standup Comedy Live

Details: Indian comics Rahul Subramanian and Kunal Kamra will perform at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, John Bassett Theatre, 255 Front St. W. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit here

Saturday, Nov. 17

deepavali

Hindus and Sikhs in Toronto will celebrate the festival of lights, Diwali, Nov.7.

Event: Music Festival

Details: The Vraj Canada Intercultural Music Festival will celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism through performances by several artists. The event will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Sunday, Nov. 18

Event: The Kishore Kaka Show

Details: Kishore Kaka aka Smit Pandya is an actor, radio jockey, comic and YouTube sensation with more than 100,000 subscribers. The well-known standup will be performing at the SVBF, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke at 6 p.m. Sanjay Raval is the special guest.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Event: SOCH workshop

Details: Supporting Our Community’s Health (SOCH) an initiative aimed at educating and creating awareness about mental health will be hosting its workshop, “Addictions- A Rising Concern in the South Asian Community,” at the Cyril Clark Library (20 Loafers Lake Ln.) in Brampton at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18
Contact: For more details visit here

Wednesday, Nov. 28

Event: Mental health conference

Details: Supporting the Mental Health of South Asian Youth and Families: Navigating Intergenerational Challenges within the South Asian Community, a one-day conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the YWCA, 87 Elm St.
Contact: For more information visit The Collaborative for South Asian Mental Health

All month-long

Event: Plays/workshops

Details: Under Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala and Executive Producer Kelly Read, Why Not Theatre presents a season of award-winning, pioneering, and thought-provoking theatre, created in Canada and around the world, for 2018/19.

In November, Mouthpiece will begin the final leg of its international tour. The award-winning play recently premiered as a feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2018/19 theatre tour begins in Halifax and ends in Berkeley, CA!
November sees a new incarnation of Like Mother, Like Daughter, a funny and emotional show where real mothers and daughters create and perform it, using their own lives and stories in an improvised format. Originally conceived in Montreal by Why Not Theatre and Complicité London UK, Like Mother, Like Daughter is being produced all over the world with local mothers and daughters. There will be eight performances of Like Mother, Like Daughter at the 918 Bathurst Centre, each one culminating in a communal meal, presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts.

For more information visit Whynot Theatre, visit here.

 

 

South Asian LGBTQ members to march loud and proud in Toronto’s 2018 Pride Parade

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Two male members of the South Asian LGBTQ community exchange traditional flower garlands as part of a photo shoot.

Haran Vijayanathan (L) and Humza Mian (not partners) are both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. The two recently participated in a photo shoot directed and styled by Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens. The initiative was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine. Photo by Banga studios

Happy Pride Month

In this guest post, Mita Patel, a blogger for Must Be Kismet, a South Asian Bridal Show and Magazine, in Toronto, talks to two desi gay guys who gamely became models for a photo shoot celebrating LGBTQ members in Toronto

Guest blog post by Mita Patel

Every once in awhile a project comes along that shakes up our ideas of what a traditional wedding looks like.

Sons of Roses is a bold and inspiring project that brings to light themes of love, union, marriage, and inclusivity.

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian (who are not together in real life), agreed to participate in the photoshoot as two grooms in a traditional, yet non-denominational, South Asian wedding.

The stunning shoot was directed and styled by Saira Hussain (Breath of Henna) & The Sai Lens and was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine and other artistic vendors. Abhirami Balachandran and Angel Glady, two members of the South Asian LGBTQ community, also participated in the project, portraying friends of the grooms on their wedding day. Check out the entire shoot at www.mustbekismet.com.

Two men wearing traditional Indian wedding clothes surrounded by two women wearing flowers in their hair

Models Haran Vijayanathan (sitting in the front) and Humza Mian are members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. They participated in a photo shoot by Must Be Kismet, a desi bridal show, and magazine. Also seen in the photo are Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady. Photo by Banga Studios.

A desi wedding set in Toronto worthy of the divine

Traditionally in the South Asian LGBTQ community, marriage hasn’t always been an option, due to stigma or lack of family support. Thankfully this is changing, and there are plenty of examples of parents supporting their children who wish to get married and come out to the broader community.

Haran, who is the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention and an outspoken advocate, says that coming out was difficult but that he is grateful for all the support he received. “My mom and sisters were accepting and still are,” he says. “I am blessed to be accepted by family and all the support they give me for who I am and what I do.”

This Saturday, June, 23 Haran will be the first Sri Lankan, Tamil speaking man to be a grand marshal at Toronto’s Annual Pride Parade. He will be marching alongside his mother and sister. His hope is that others in the community who are struggling with reconciling their religious or cultural identities with coming out will feel more supported and a little less alone by seeing someone similar to them represented.

On the topic of marriage, Haran says that his preferred wedding would be a simple affair without a lot of pomp and pageantry.

“My wedding would entail some great Indian/Sri Lankan food stations in a huge outdoor field with lots of mini lights lining the perimeter on stakes with a dome of lights as well,” He said. “Lots of music, very few speeches, and people just having a great time with us and us with them. People would be dressed in simple Indian outfits and just have nature bless all of us with the stars shimmering in the sky, the slight breeze of the wind rustling the leaves in the trees and gently cooling all our guests.”

two women wearing pink floral dresses

Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady, members from the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here in a photo shoot – Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Manghoe Lassie in the land of Maple trees

Humza, who identifies as queer, is a veterinary technician by day and a popular drag queen by night. His followers on social media know him as Manghoe Lassie, and his vibrant personality and love of his craft radiate through his pictures and videos.

He is partially out to his family – his sisters and cousins know and support him; his parents and aunts and uncles do not yet know. He believes that coming out is an ongoing process and not the same for everyone. Above all, individuals should feel safe and emotionally prepared in their choice to come out.

Humza envisions a wedding in his future, that may not be traditional or in line with his Islamic faith, but one that includes his friends and family.

“I would love to have a traditional wedding, however, this will likely not happen,” says Hamza. “The process of coming out for queer people of color is ongoing and for some of us, it will never be a reality. I have come to accept this and I am actually OK with it (no really, I am!) and will make the best of my wedding with my friends and chosen family.”

A gay prayer: just as powerful

Both Haran and Humza consider themselves religious and take great solace in the tenets and practices of their faith.

Haran, like many Hindus, has a mandir in his home and does pooja twice a day in honour of the deities. He appreciates the many gods and goddesses in Hinduism and the way in which this ancient religion considers people and spirit and life as fluid and ever-changing.

Humza, a practicing Muslim of Pakistani descent, enjoys attending Khutbah, a formal occasion where an Imam preaches and conveys the teachings of Islam. He says that the principles of his faith that are most important to him centre around being a good person and service to others.

Sons of Roses aims to spark more discussion about queer weddings and help to create healthy conversations at home. It is one thread in the fabric of our collective stories of union and marriage that shows how love moves us to transcend all differences.

two men seen reflecting with their eyes closed and hands folded in a namaste

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian, both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here as models for a photo shoot Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Must be Kismet team involved in the photo shoot included:

Art Director, Stylist: Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens Photographer: Banga Studios Decor: Rose Events and Floral Beauty (makeup and hair team): SS Glam Studios, Daniela Suppa, and Makeup by She. Jewelry: Jaya and Co. Wardrobe Vendors: Chandan Fashion, Sahiba Fashions, Lotus Bloom Official, Live the Collective