Stuck in traffic? Sadhguru shares his insights during his visit to Toronto

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Meeting the golf-loving, motorcycle- riding mystic whose advise for life’s dilemmas did not involve hour long rituals or investments into his Isha Foundation, but just a slight shift in perception, was refreshing

Here are some of my favourite nuggets of wisdom from the evening.

When asked about the stressors of daily life such as demanding bosses and horrific traffic. Jaggi Vasudev (Sadhguru) retorted.

“Did you not spend hours deciding what kind of dream car you would like to buy? Now, when you’re getting a chance to spend more time inside your “dream car’ you’re complaining? Why?”

“You say you’re stressed at work, but if you were fired from that job, will it end your stress?”

Point taken.

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sadhguru-photo2Yoga in the studio

On this recent day, the 60-year-old Yogi was dressed in a white dhoti, long black kurta, a coiled turban and a multi-coloured shawl that effortlessly fell over his shoulders. He talked about yoga as a way of life

“One can be completely intoxicated by life without drugs. You can shift from wine to divine by attuning your self to becoming “one” with everything around you.

Unfortunately, the studio yoga practiced here in the west has turned yoga into a physical routine of twisting one’s body into ridiculous proportions. The physical part of yoga is minuscule. Yoga is an art of transforming your inner self so that it’s in tune with the rest of the universe.”

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God is in the details

Years ago, when Sadhguru was a mere mortal and not the “conscious being,” he’s now, he became intrigued when some folks openly boasted about how God talked to them one-on-one.

So, Jaggi Vasudev hung outside temples, mosques and churches observing people exit temples, churches and gurudwaras.

Some devotees, he wryly observed, cursed the creator and creation when they noticed their shoes and chappals (which they had diligently removed outside the temple) missing. Others gossiped. Almost no one it appeared was connected to the divine. This led him to conclude:

“People coming out of restaurants have more joyful expressions on their faces than those coming out of the temples,” he said. “I call this dosa vs. divine.”

P.s: A sumptuous, crispy dosa (an Indian crepe made with fermented rice and often stuffed with potatoes) in my opinion definitely can come close to nirvana.

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Sadhguru1That cursed technology

So, in his youth and perhaps later, Jaggi Vasudev had this habit of riding away on his trusty motorcycle for months. He rode to Chamundi Hills and jungles around Mysore, but once every few days, he would stop by roadside telephone booths (manned by a human) to make dozens of calls to friends and family. He recalled how he would spend hours inside that the stuffy booth rotary dialling his contacts.

Today, he observed, his phone has the ability to connect him to millions people.

“Technology has no characteristic of its own,” Sadhguru said. “If you use it to abuse each other, it’s bad, but if it can help me reach millions of people, is it bad? It’s not technology, but humans that are a problem…”

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Traveling alone

“Someone who’s a seeker will always want to be alone, whereas a believer spouting bullshit needs the support of hundred of others. As long as you understand you know nothing and are willing to learn, you’ll be okay.”

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‘Tis is the season for garba, kolu and Durga maa and Toronto has it all

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Jonita Gandhi seen here with AR Rahman during one of his stops in North America. A documentary film One Heart touches on the tours’ highlight. Rahman will also be performing a concert in Brampton, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at Brampton’s Powerade Centre, 7575 Kennedy Rd.

Juggling multiple projects with a wary eye on looming deadlines is never a good idea. I should know. I am swamped.

So, I have decided to work smart. Here’s news, in bite-sized chunks to tide you over until I can get to that in-depth profile.

AR Rahman will be stopping by Brampton, Friday, Oct. 20 at the Powerade Centre, 7575 Kennedy Rd. at 7 p.m. Grab those tickets now.

On a related note: Our own nightingale Jonita Gandhi on whom I have written numerous stories makes an appearance in a just-released documentary on AR Rahman on his North American Intimate Tour (NAIT) series.

The film, One Heart features in-depth interviews with Rahman as well as members from his tour and is playing in Cineplex theatres across GTA.

“Being the lead female singer on the AR Rahman North America Intimate Tour was an unforgettable experience,” said Jonita in a press release. “I’m so grateful that Rahman sir trusted me with the task of delivering so many of his hits live on stage. I learned a lot about myself as a singer and performer during those 18 shows, and I’m so happy that parts of it have been captured and presented so beautifully in One Heart for everyone to enjoy.

It was Gandhi’s cover of a popular Christmas song (the video was shot in downtown Brampton some years ago by her brother)  that caught Rahman’s interest. Soon after, he invited her to be part of his tour.

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Desi Royals Entertainment is hosting Garba 2017 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

‘Tis is the season for Garba.

Navratri (festival of nine days), celebrated by Hindus in India, signals to us that it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get ready to juggle rush-hour commute and office deadlines with some serious partying and prayers and rituals.

Here in Toronto, notice there’s an air of anticipation because the working mom and dads, dressed in business casual clothes from 9 to 5, toss them aside as soon as they get home to garb themselves in stunning ghaghra/choli, Kanjeevaram sarees, kurta/pyjamas and head to temples, homes, arenas for participating in pooja followed by dance and revelry.

So, on Saturday, Sept. 16, the Desi Royals Entertainment, is hosting its Garba 2017 at the Hershey Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Pl. Mississauga at 7 p.m. It’s one of the biggest celebrations happening here in the GTA.

Hemant Chauhan and group will deliver string of Garba/Dandiya tracks to keep you in synch with your dancing partner. Interested? visit www.desiroyals.com.

 

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Dream merchants

Marriages are made in heaven, right? but weddings are more earthly and hell, need to be just perfect.

It’s pretty obvious that Suhaag: The wedding show clearly fills a much-needed service when it comes to your wedding needs. Mandap, clothes, jewelry, gifts, food, fashion and more catering to specific desi tastes. Those opulent sets are so awesome and intricate, you’ll want to get hitched, again.

The annual Suhaag show is happening Sunday, Sept. 17 at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. There will be fashion shows.

For more visit here.

Bit of house-keeping here: If you want your events included in the monthly events calendar, please send me the details, including where, what, when and who along with a high-rez photograph from previous years. Your listings must reach us a month in advance. Send the submissions to: toronto.desidiaries@gmail.com.

The band, baaja and Red Baraat at the Beaches Jazz Festival in Toronto

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Red Baraat: The large, loud and over-the-top Indian wedding procession on the streets of India always lifts my spirits.

The ambience and mood of band of men, all dressed in regimented uniforms, accessorized with glittering brass buttons blasting Bollywood tunes and snarling the traffic says, “here’s life, seize it.”

If you’re nostalgic for the heady feeling of being transfixed on music that’s indescribable, yet so addictive, you’re in luck.

New York-based octet Red Baraat will take on the main stage at the Beaches Jazz Festival, Saturday, July 29 at 9 p.m. Brace yourself for never-heard-anything-like-this sounds that’s a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, rock and bhangra.

It’s obvious the eight-member group not only shares a passion for music but also has a dry sense of humour. Their albums—Shruggy Ji (2013), Bhangra Pirates (2017) and their name—Red Baraat have a touch of whimsical brilliance.

Sunny Jain (dhol/band leader/vocals) helps unravel the musical mysteries behind their brand in this chat.

TDD:  The members of Red Baraat are?
SJ: Rohin Khemani (percussion), Sonny Singh (trumpet/vocals), Chris Eddleton (drumset), Jonathon Haffner (Soprano Sax), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar) and John Altieri (Sousaphone/rap).

TDD: How did you all meet and the story behind the name – Red Baraat?
SJ: I put the band together in 2008, having already been living and playing in NYC for 10 years prior to that.

I had the privilege of meeting and playing with many of the guys in different musical settings during my early years in NYC. When I had the idea for the band, I thought of the best combination of musical personalities and instruments that I thought would work.

The name (Red Baraat) comes from the musical inspiration and vision for the band: baraat and the Indian Brass Band tradition dating back to the 18th century. Red because that is the color of love, energy and revolution.

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Members of New York based group Red Baraat will perform at the Beaches Jazz Festival, Saturday, July 29 at 9 p.m. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

TDD. How did the idea to fuse Bhangra with jazz, Latin and other styles happen?
SJ:  As a South Asian-American, I grew up with a variety of music from my cultural heritage: Jain Bhajans, Bollywood songs of the 70’s and 80’s, Punjabi music, Ghazals and Hindustani classical. Born and raised in America (Rochester, NY), I was also listening to what was on the radio and what my siblings handed down to me: classic rock, progressive rock, 80’s music, Brit Pop, hip-hop.

When I started studying drums and specifically, jazz music, my drum teacher (Rich Thompson) always told me to be open to learning and playing all styles of music. He cultivated the idea of a large musical vocabulary for the sake of versatility when improvising. So all of these experiences are reflected in my approach to composing and performing music.

Music and art is about expression and I’m always searching for the expression “OF” and “IN” the moment.

Thought and technique must disappear in the moment. The idea of genre and traditions must disappear in the moment. The only truth of the moment is the sound that comes out THAT MOMENT. Red Baraat’s sound is based on this idea and with that, each musician in the band brings their own musical personality into the full sound of the band. Each of them is a studied and deeply soulful musician, in their own unique way.

TDD: What’s the crowd’s reaction to your unique musical style?
SJ: Typical response is, “Holy shit, I’ve never heard anything like that before. Your music has [insert 5 genres of music] in it.” So yeah, I think people like our sound and our show. We’ve been touring solid for 8 years, with hardly any breaks.

TDD: How do you describe the sounds in Shruggy ji and to what do you attribute from the album becoming the portal to your success?
SJ: Shruggy Ji was our 2nd album that debuted at #1 on Billboard World Music charts in 2012. While we were very fortunate to have had that bump, we don’t necessarily attribute that album to our portal of success. We focus on the joy and passion we have for playing in this band. The songs. The fans. The cities we travel and the experiences we have. We’re very lucky and grateful for our old and new fans that support us. 

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Sunny Jain (dhol/band leader/vocals) and member of Red Baraat, a New York-based band. Red Baraat will perform at the Beaches Jazz Festival, Saturday, July 29 at 9 p.m. Photo courtesy Red Baraat.

TDD: Bhangra Pirates…what is the story/who is responsible for these quirky names? SJ: The music and energy of bhangra just seems to go hand-in-hand with the spirit of a pirate: rebellious, adventurous, wild natured. There’s also something to be said about Pirate Codes; the camaraderie, the support system among the crew. In fact, history teaches us that pirates were pioneers in democracy. Perhaps most importantly though, the Pirate Codes were revolutionary in their method of taking power away from any one man, and placing it in the hands of the majority. We kind of need some Bhangra Pirates in the States right now.

TDD: And is it a deliberate attempt to have these names. Who’s Shruggy ji? And the rationale behind the “Pirates?”
SJ: Shruggy Ji is a personality or character that we believe lives in all of us. As dusk approaches, we see our shadows lurking and slowly growing as night time falls on us. That’s the time our inner “Shruggy Ji” comes out. “Shrug your shoulders, and twist your wrists. Move your body and shake those ships.” We take time and thought into everything we do…the music we make, the song titles and the album titles. I think every artist does.

TDD: Any incident that you can reference that brings back a chuckle or a laugh or was kind of sobering?
SJ: I think we always laugh when people come to see Red Baraat and they are expecting us to be in colonial marching band outfits and play traditional baraat music. I love the Indian Brass Band tradition and have great respect for the musicians, but the colonial outfit represents just that, colonialism; something that directly affected my parents and family during partition. I’d never pay tribute to any colonizer.

The Beaches Jazz Festival StreetFest runs July 27 to 29. Red Baraat will perform at Woodbine Park, Saturday, July 29 at 9 p.m.

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New York based Red Baraat. Photo by Richard Gastwirt.

Let’s all get filmy in Toronto this May

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May ’17 South Asian events in Toronto offer a heady and healthy mix of films, theatre, music and dance. Check out our desi events calendar.

Monday, May 1

Event: IFFSA
Details: Controversial film Lipstick Under my Burkha, Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep and dozens of others are part of the line-up. Guess what? Akshay Roy ‘s Meri Pyaari Bindu starring Parineeti Chopra and Ayushman will make its North American premiere e May 15 at the festival. IFFSA runs 11 to 22.
Contact: Here

Event: Ask the Sexpert
Details: Toronto’s International documentary festival 2017 Hot Docs will showcase an array of documentaries from across the globe including Vaishali Sinha’s Ask the Sexpert, a film is about Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a highly popular 93-year-old sex columnist for Mumbai Mirror. The film will screen at Hot Docs May 1 to 3 at the TIFF Bell Lighthouse. Festival runs until Sunday, May 7
Contact: Here 

Friday, May 6

Students from Nachdi Jawani showcase their dance at the Carassauga Festival of Cultures. Photo by Rob Beintema

Event: Nachdi Jawani
Details: Punjabi Virsa Arts and Culture Academy will be hosting its 17th annual Nachdi Jawani Youth Festival, at 1370 Williams Pkwy. Brampton from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Event will feature gidha and bhangra competitions.
Contact: Here

Event: Taraang
Details: Enjoy a Bollywood musical concert at Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Dr. Mississauga. The Taraang Ek Sureela Kaarvaan starts at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday, May 7

Event: Gujarati Comedy Show
Details: Enjoy a Gujju comedy show at Chinguacousy Secondary School, 1370 Williams Parkway, Brampton at 5 p.m. The three-hour LOL riot features Dr. Jagdish Trivedi.
Contact: Here

Thursday, May 13

Event: Hindustani Music Concert
Details: Raag-Mala Music Society presents Hidayat Khan (sitar) and Manjusha Patil (vocals) at this spring concert at McLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences bldg., 1 King’s College Circle at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 20

Event: Zumba Party
Details: A Bollywood-themed Zumba fitness party is happening at the Harold Braithwaite Secondary School, 415 Great Lakes Dr. in Brampton at 4 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, May 26

Event: Carrasauga
Details: Mississauga’s festival of cultures beckons you to take a trip around the world for chump change. While you’re globetrotting, stop by the India pavilion at the Hershey Centre, community rinks at 5500 Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga. Festival runs until Sunday, May 28.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 27

Event: Malhar SpringFest
Details: Malhar Group will present its annual SpringFest at the Molson Canadian Studio at Hamilton Place, 1 Summers Ln. Hamilton, at 6:30 p.m. Concert will feature: Subhranil Sarkar (sitar), Kaivalya Kumar (vocals), Abhijeet Banerjee (tabla) and Sanatan Goswami (harmonium)
Contact: Here

 

Carnatic music, colours, jazz concerts taking place Feb. and March 2016

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SATURDAY, FEB. 27

Event: Concert
Details: Toronto based Justin Gray, a bassist and composer trained in Hindustani music and his band SYNTHESIS, which is a fusion of Hindustani music and jazz music comprising of Gray (Bass Veena), Ravi Naimpally (table) and Ted Quinlan (guitar) will perform at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St. in North York at 8 p.m. Jazz Performance and Education Centre (JPEC) is the host.
Contact: For more information/tickets, visit here

Event: Dance-a-thon
Details: Pure Soul Energy will be participating in a fundraiser to benefit Syrian refugees with a Bollywood dance-a-thon. The event is taking place at Discovery Community Christian Church, 7755 Tenth Line W. Mississauga from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

Event: Man Mor Bani Thangat Kare
Details: Swargunjan Music Academy is presenting a concert, featuring vocalist Pramesh Nandi of Mewati Gharana at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, 2 Saint Andrews Blvd. Etobicoke at 6:30 p.m. onward.
Contact: For tickets, contact here

SATURDAY, MARCH 5

Event: Night in Mumbai Gala
Details: The gala to benefit Heart House Hospice will recreate the energy of Mumbai. It’s taking place at Mississauga Convention Centre, 75 Derry Rd. W. and will start at 6 p.m.
Contact: For more, contact here

SATURDAY, MARCH 12

Event: Holi 2016
Details: Zoom Enjoyment Inc. is presenting Holi 2016 at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall, 6628 Finch Ave. W. Etobicoke at 7 p.m.
Contact: Sanjiv Arora, 416-986-1204

THRUSDAY, March 17 to 20

Event: Kartein hain 100 years of magic
Details: More than 50 of your favourite Disney characters will share the rink this March break when Disney on Ice stops by Rogers Centre.
Contact: For tickets, contact here

SUNDAY, MARCH 20

Event: Rang Barse 2016
Details: The KC Group of Canada will celebrate Holi at the National Banquet Halls, 7355 Torbram Rd. Mississauga at 11 a.m.
Contact: Here

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23

Event: Dance Diaries
Details: Sanskriti Arts Ensemble (SAE) and Imagebuilderz, a marketing and PR firm are bringing Saroj Khan, renowned Bollywood choreographer to Toronto. Khan will host a three-day workshop here. The half-day or full-day workshops will take place at Sanskriti Arts Dance and Fitness Studios at 2249 Dunwin Dr. in Mississauga.
Contact: Here

SATURDAY, MARCH 26

Event: Swaragini
Details: A Carnatic Music Idol contest will take place at the Cyril Clark Library (Theatre), 20 Loafers Lake Ln. Brampton. The contest is for participants in three age groups: 7-12 years old, 12-17 and adults 18 and above.
Contact: Here

Event: Kaifi Aur Mein
Details: Universal Promotions and Eglinton Carpets are bringing a theatrical production that’s an ode to poet Kaifi Azmi. At the event Bollywood actor Shabana Azmi and her husband/well-known lyricist Javed Akhtar, will take the audience through a personal journey by enacting the letters Kaifi Azmi (Shabana’s dad) wrote to her mom Shaukat. Ghazal singer Jaswinder Singh will sing a few of Kaifi Azmi’s ghazals.The show is taking place at The Meeting House, 2700 Bristol Circ. Oakville at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets, contact here

Note: Want your event featured in Toronto Desi Diaries? Submit details at least a month in advance. Send your listings to: Toronto.desidiaries@gmail.com.