Come join us in celebrating the 44th Annual Festival of India in the heart of downtown Toronto
For thousands of years, great civilizations, individual spiritual seekers and explorers have journeyed to the Indian subcontinent searching for answers to life’s most
profound questions through the philosophy and timeless spiritual culture of the East. Today, South Asian culture has become known worldwide for its Bollywood dance routines, fashion, music and henna tattoos, amongst other things. As beautiful as these contemporary aspects are, the true and lasting Eastern treasures run much deeper and are far more spiritually compelling.
On July 16-17, 2016, at the height of the summer season in Toronto, the Festival of India will bring South Asia’s most endearing spiritual culture to the heart of downtown Toronto in a contemporary, exhilarating, and family-friendly fashion. In its 44th year, the festival continues to excite participants and attract onlookers as a feast for the eyes as well as the soul.
Proving that spirituality need not be far removed from society, the Festival of India will bring enchanting rhythms to Yonge Street on Saturday, July 16th at 11:00 a.m., where thousands of revelers will hand-pull three magnificent 40-foot tall floats in a grand parade. The procession will be accompanied by a fervid menagerie of drumming, singing, and dancing all the way from Bloor to Queens Quay. This vibrant parade, traditionally known as Ratha-Yatra, is actually a way of commemorating an age-old tradition of celebratory processions still annually held in the ancient Indian city of Puri, Orissa.
Celebrations will then shift over to Centre Island for the remainder of the weekend where festival-goers will find a massive, tented-outdoor pavilion that pulses with soul-enlivening food, music, shows, events, and activities. Specific Centre Island highlights include a free vegetarian feast, an acclaimed arts & culture showcase, a South Asian Bazaar, enlightening seminars, a fun-filled kids area, cooking demonstrations, and more.
On Sunday, July 17th, bespeaking a rising awareness that yoga isn’t just about form-fitting pants, the Festival of India will present the Eighth Annual Yoga Meltdown. Celebrated as a “festival within a festival”, Yoga Meltdown is one of Toronto’s first free, outdoor spiritual yoga exhibitions. This unique event provides all yoga enthusiasts, from the simply curious to hardcore yogis, with a chance to explore yoga in a distinctively holistic way. With free outdoor yoga classes led by yoga studios from across the GTA, vegan cooking demonstrations, mantra meditation seminars and more, this mini-festival promises the public a rare opportunity to
unwind and revitalize themselves amidst the splendor of Centre Island.
The festival is officially presented by Toronto’s famous Hare Krishna Centre and offers a surreal and remarkably convenient opportunity to relish the tradition and spirituality of India right here amidst our city’s looming skyscrapers and scenic isles. An open invitation goes out to one and all to come discover the hidden treasures of the East on both Yonge Street and at Centre Island this year at the 44th Annual Festival of India.
About the Festival of India
In the late 1960s, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna Society, also known as ISKCON, inaugurated international versions of the Ratha-Yatra festival, which has been celebrated for centuries in India. With roots steeped in age-old spiritual traditions, Ratha-Yatra festivals are now celebrated in every major city around the world, including London, Paris, and New York. The last 42 years have seen Toronto’s version of the festival, known as the “Festival of India”, mature into a much-anticipated annual event that brings a unique and vibrant culture to a larger mainstream audience. Toronto’s festival has developed into the largest of its kind in North America and presents a rare opportunity for Torontonians to experience, enjoy, and learn more about the profound spiritual culture of the east in a contemporary, family-oriented fashion.
About Toronto’s Hare Krishna Centre
For over 40 years, the Toronto Hare Krishna Centre has been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. Helping to celebrate and share the teachings of ancient spiritual India, the Hare Krishna Centre also regularly conducts programs for youth empowerment, community care, and a Food for Life program involving regular outreach to the underprivileged via the distribution of hot vegetarian meals. Internationally speaking, the Hare Krishna movement is a worldwide confederation of more than 600 centres, including 60 farm communities, 50 schools and 90 restaurants.