It's a country that houses a sixth of the world's population, and has become an international powerhouse – and you can explore modern India's food, arts, ideas, and its strong Canadian ties, at the Indian Summer Festival.
Among the colourful offerings are a free outdoor Bollywood film screening that comes with Bollywood dance classes, yoga, music and a Vij's food truck. Also, there's a well-being weekend of yoga, meditation and nutrition workshops, and a percussion-heavy, collaboration-fuelled concert by Rajasthan Josh with Vancouver musicians Tarun Nayar of Delhi2Dublin, percussionist Ashwin Sood and beatboxer Rup Sidhu. The eight-day fest also ventures into the realm of ideas with discussions about everything from the triumphs and failures of urbanization to a talk about South Asia's future by journalist and author Sudeep Chakravarti, who has worked for the Asian Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone India.
"The concept of Indian Summer is to feed the soul, the stomach, the brain, the senses, everything – and not to leave any of those out," says festival co-founder Sirish Rao. "It's easy to watch a performance and leave; but it's very different to be able to engage with great minds from other cultures and have a global dialogue."
Kicking off the fest Thursday night is a culinary tour of South Asia curated by Vikram Vij that's set in the serenity of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and will take food lovers on a gastronomical tour of tastes from India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal and beyond, and pair them with wines from Indian-owned B.C. wineries. "Vancouver is such a foodie city, and we Indians are so food obsessed, so there couldn't be a better combination," says Mr. Rao with a laugh. "And sometimes cultural understanding just comes down to appreciating someone else's food."
The Indian Summer Festival runs July 4-13 (indiansummerfestival.ca).