Vancouver British Columbia – Surrey is known for the annual Vaisakhi parade (Nagar Kirtan), wherein around 4 lakh people from North America participate every year. However, due to COVID, this was the second consecutive year when the parade was not taken out.
Looking into the people’s reaction to missing out on such a big event, Vancouver based V4U Entertainment decided to take the initiative and offer an online cultural event called “Mela Yaaran Da” to mark Baisakhi, which coincided with the first day of Vasant Navratri and also Ramadan.
The event witnessed participation by over 40 enthusiasts from both Punjabi and other communities. People were elated to see MP, New Westminster, Peter Julian greet the people on Baisakhi by saying “Vahe guru ji da khalsa”. Julian talked about the contribution of the Punjabi community in every field of life in Canada. Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal also addressed the people virtually. Local dignitaries from various professions including prominent local businesses and several local MLAs graced the occasion with their presence on Zoom.
The colourful costumes of the performers made for an exhilarating evening splashed with the enthusiasm and energy of the Punjabi dhol and the Giddha dance. Short monologues recorded by little children in the Punjabi language interspersed humour in the event.
“I sang a folk song in the Punjabi language for the very first time. It was a truly memorable experience and a welcome distraction from the daily stress of dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic as well as the daily routines of life” said one participating singer.
Viewership of the event on Facebook was across many countries including Canada, USA, India, Pakistan and others. This event helped members of the local South Asian community to stay connected with their roots and their culture. An enthusiastic participation by the local children was particularly appreciated during the event. Mrs India Worldwide (2019-2020), Tarana Kaur and Jaspreet Kaur beautifully anchored the event.
Asmita Lawrence, V4U Entertainment Executive Member said that Vancouver is home to a large Sikh community and every year a grand parade attracts thousands of families who get together on this auspicious day. Festivities include song, dance, and free food as per the tradition of langar where rich and poor come together to share a meal and generously give to the community. In this same Indian tradition of charity, V4U entertainment also arranged a donation drive under the leadership of Deepak Uberoi, V4U Executive Team Member and all proceeds from the event will be donated to conduct free eye surgeries in India for Cataract as part of the ‘Gift of Sight’ initiative of ‘Friends for Cause Foundation’.
V4U Entertainment has successfully built a global family of followers over the last one year by organizing weekly virtual musical events online. This has benefited numerous people to stay connected with each other socially whilst being physically distanced.
V4U offers a music platform that has magically bonded together local members in deep ties of friendship. Vikas Gautam, Founder and Director of V4U summed up his work in these words, “Some of us have not yet met in person due to the restrictions imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and yet we have connected with each other as kindred spirits through the virtual events of V4U. Only the magic of music can bring people together in this way”.