Navratri Festival hits BCIT…Again

Buckle up and hop on a cultural roller-coaster filled with vibrant colours, creative costumes and a packed gymnasium that will be celebrating Navratri at BCIT.

The annual South Asian festival is an opportunity to meet fellow members in the community and learn a few dance moves alongside hundreds of talented individuals. From minors to seniors, students to toddlers, everyone is invited to celebrate.

It has been nearly two decades that the festival hit the lower mainland but it needed a spark to rejuvenate the cause and illustrate that it is more of a celebration rather than a religious event. That spark has been ignited since BCIT got into the picture and marketing student, Preetal Bhatt notes that the campuses’ involvement is increasing the excitement.

“It is a great feeling to be a student at BCIT and have Navratri celebrated and represented. It is such an exuberant festival and it draws huge crowds, which is not only great for the campus but it caters to a lot of students who are curious and want to get a taste of the culture,” explained Bhatt.

Every year the festival is hosted by the Gujarati Society of British Columbia, a cultural, charitable, and educational non-profit organization. The society is one of the largest cultural organizations in the Lower Mainland, with thousands of Gujarati-speaking members and supporters.

President of the Guajarati Society, Rajan Raniga did not hesitate to host the festival at BCIT for the second year in a row. After gaining popularity amongst the South Asian community, the festival is beginning to cross borders and increase interest within other communities.

“A lot of youth outside the Guajarati community come out to celebrate Navratri. We as a society always emphasize the youth to get involved because it the youth who keep the culture going and bring their millennial perspective to the table,” said Raniga.

Strap on those dancing shoes because the festival is making its way on campus on October 19th, 20th, and 27th.  Tickets are $5 and are available at the door.
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Ronil Desai is a Youth Ambassador for the Gujarati Society of British Columbia. 

Team Vancouver ready to take the stage in Calgary for Western Canada’s Largest Dance Competition

Aaaaand we’re off!!

Well, almost. Just a few days left to go before our 3 Teams – Folk Nation, Chaniya Chokris, and RaasCity take off for Calgary this week.

Our final fundraiser Hawaiian Luau held on August 11 was a HUGE success. We were sold out with 350 tickets and were supported by the Gujarat Seniors Society Cooking Team with the food generously donated by Kamlaben Ladva, as well as Samosas donated from Indian Life Food Corporation and buns donated by Vege Delight Bakery.  We managed to raise $10,500 Thank you to our sponsors for helping to make this event a success:

Sponsors:

$2,500 G&F Financial Group

$5,000 Divyesh Gadhia

$1,000 Dr. Bhasker Thakore

Community Partners:

$801 Dr. Smeeta Ranchod

$501 Dr. Harilal Thakorlal

$501  Pravinbhai & Mayuriben Jogia

$501 Sharat & Jyotie Chande

$500 Taruna Panchal

$500 Ananta Chowhan

$400 Mr. Ashok Badiani (for the VanGopis)

$351 Arvind Thakore

$251 Rasikhbhai & Bhartiben

$250 Parag & Nehal Bavishi

$250 Mukesh Chhanabhai

$200 Hitesh Panchal

$151 Narendra Amin

$151 Jitendra Desai

$101 Mansukhlal Chauhan

$100.25 Narsibhai & Manjulaben Dhokia

$101 Rajubhai Gajjar

$101 Shri Sharadbhai Pandit

$101 Vinodbhai Bhatt

$101 Mirch Masala Group

$51 Vraj Sudra

$51 Sureshbhai Desai

$51 Deviben Thakore

$30 Nitinbhai Bhuva

$25.25 Kishore Sawjani

$25 Jasuben Mistry

$20 Jasuben Amin

$10 Kevin Patel

$10 Nimi Virani

$5 Anish Pabari

To become a community partner or to donate, please click here.

With all of your generous donations and sponsorships, as well as the fundraising efforts of all three teams and the GSBC Raas Garba organizing committee, we have managed to raise a total of $45,000.00 but we are still short. This means that although we will pay for the travel and accommodations of the participants, the food will not be covered. All participants will need to pay for their own food during the trip. Again, your generous donations will be much appreciated.

If you are interested in coming to Calgary for the Gujarati Cultural Festival, please make arrangements according to the below:

Calgary Gujarati Cultural Festival Details

Event Schedule:

Friday, August 31 is the Evening Social Mixer for all youth.

Saturday, September 1 at 1:30pm is the Western Canada Raas Garba Competition. The order is Garba, Youth, and then Raas. We have 4 tickets available, contact junita@gsbc.ca for information or you can visit the Epcor Jack Singer Hall directly at http://www.epcorcentre.org

Saturday, September 1 at 7pn is the Dandiya Dhamaka featuring famous performers from Toronto, Pramesh Nandi & Group – at Genesis Centre. Tickets available $15 at door (includes $5 food coupon).

Sunday September 2 from 9am to 4pm is a FREE EVENT at the Genesis Centre – Arts, History, Health & Wellness Seminars, Yoga, Rangoli, and Sporting Activities.  Fun event for entire family and it is FREE!

Sunday September 2 at 6:30pm is the Gala Dinner & Awards Presentation at the Commonwealth Centre. If you are have not yet purchased your tickets, please contact the following:

Vinay Dattani Tel: 403.280.6241
Bhasker Thankey Tel: 403.242.9787
Kalpesh Trivedi Tel: 403.561.0897

 

Hotel information:

  • Holiday Inn, 1250 McKinnon Drive N.E. Calgary, Alberta T2E7T7.
  • Group Booking Code: GCF (For Discounted rate from August 30 – September 03, 2012).
  • Contact: 403-230-1999 or Toll free 1-877-519-7113
  • We have one room that we are looking to fill for anyone searching for roommates, contact rpala@shaw.ca.

Transportation:

  • Shuttle bus is $175/person return. Contact Roy Pala for information about space available 604-808-1040 or rlpala@shaw.ca.

Or

  • Fly with WestJet – 20% Discount on best available fare from August 30 – September 03, 2012. Convention Code: CC7511, Booking Contact: 1-888-493-7853

See you all in Calgary!

Rajan Raniga

President, GSBC

Festival Chair, Gujarati Cultural Festival – Team Vancouver

There’s no “i” in team – It’s cheesy, but true

They may throw bedlus instead of baseballs, but Vancouver’s Chaniya Chokries definitely understand what it means to be a team.

Chandni, Priya and Trisha organize fundraisers, Suhani and Hema book practice space, Sim coordinates snacks, Abhilasha tortures us with her four minute abdominal routine (we call it Abh’s Abs). Perisha and Niketa are our resident fashion designers while Tejal and Savitri crack awkward jokes at awkward moments…those who have gone un-mentioned have not gone un-noticed – they are probably swiffering our practice space or brushing up the latest choreography, which means all I have to do is teach.

As a team we’ve already learned a lot. For example, did you know that in India toothbrushes grow on trees? It’s true. In our garba, Krishna asks us to go to the forest to fetch a Datania for himBharti, our team manager (and my mom) tells me that this organic contraption not only cleans your teeth and gums, but can also be peeled into a nifty tongue cleaner.  When I asked where I could get one, she confirmed that it’s one of few products found only on trees and not online.

We know there is still a lot to learn, for example, working on making our style less Bollywood and more Baruch… but we have time. While we definitely have our work cut out for us, as a teacher it’s very refreshing to work with a group of girls who understand the meaning of commitment and teamwork.

See you in Calgary!

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By Divya Thakore – Choreographer of the Vancouver Adult Garba Team

What’s my name?

Throw 20 names into a hat and randomly select the winner, which will then be the label for your team for the rest of the summer.

Sigh, we all wish it was that stress-free but people have ideas, people have views and most importantly, people have preferences and as much as we respect each other’s opinions, people have wants.

“What about Raascals?” “No that’s stupid; I like Raas on Raas on Raas!”

(This by the way is a senseless team name)

“Let’s be the Raasters or get a celebrities name and switch it like Lady Garba…”

(Not Happening…)

It’s a minor priority in the grand scheme of things since we are miles behind schedule and should be learning the routine as quickly as possible so the editing process can begin, but with all that being said, producing a team name is necessary.

All three teams representing Vancity this September should march into Calgary with confident and respectable team identities… so be inventive, witty, think outside the box, and attempt to tie together the culture, dance and what your team represents.

After hearing a list of names from the Raas group, most of which are ridiculous, two names however stand out.

Raas City & Y.O.R.O.

No idea what those mean?

Well for the out-dated cohort bumping Sonu Nigam in their stereos, the younger generation is listening to artists like Tyga, Drake and Weezy don’t forget the F Baby.

Rack City and Y.O.L.O. are the real titles that have been illustrated by these artists and a few members of the Raas squad modified the title to their benefit and I like it.

However, these names are not traditional which can definitely backfire and they’re not the most creative either. Who’s to say these names aren’t already submitted by the other cities? These titles have nothing to do with Gujaratri culture and do not use the word “Raas” to form a word, such as two of Vancouver’s Alumni Raas champions….the “CobRaas” or “EntouRaas

But then again, these names represent the voice of the younger generation, it’s relevant and different. Raas City is arguably the perfect name for the city of Vancouver. We have hoisted the Raas Garba Competition trophy for consecutive years, and with the amount of gold shelved in our trophy case, we deserve to be labelled Raas City. (Think of Detroit calling themselves “Hockey Town”). They haven’t won the cup for a few years but have a rich history in raising the Holy Grail and probably deserve the title.

Y.O.R.O. which stands for You Only Raas Once is a play on this experience being a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yes I understand we have participated more than once but you’re missing the point. We as a team should treat this experience as if it would never happen again. We should put our best foot forward, dance like it’s the last time we’ll touch the stage and understand that this competition is not an everyday opportunity; we need to, live, feel, and breathe Raas like it’s our last time. That’s our mindset, and what Y.O.R.O. symbolizes.

But, Time will tell, inthe end, we might end up with neither and end up going into Calgary with a name like “GujuRaasis”

Good luck to the other teams finalizing their names.

RD Out

Check out previous blogs

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Ronil Desai is a Youth Ambassador for the Gujarati Society of British Columbia.

First of many

Everyday is Saturday night but I can’t wait for Sunday morning…

Hold up, I’ll take that back, especially when Sunday morning starts off at 6:30am… Yup, you read that correctly, 6:30 in the morning. Now I know there are those keeners who are out having breakfast and going for runs as the sun rises but for the Raas team, 6:30 in the morning involves a pillow, a blanket and possibly a teddy bear.

However, now that the Raas Garba journey has begun, the members of the Raas team will have to fine-tune their sleeping pattern because Sunday mornings will be starting off bright and early.

The first practice/meeting was on May 20th at 6:30am for the Vancouver Raasters’. The team finally had a chance to meet one another and learn more about their managers and choreographers. These are the individuals the dancers will be dealing with over the next few months, so this first meet and greet was essential.

After a brief discussion on the administrative aspects of the competition and festival, the managers outlined a few of the guidelines and expectations they have of the dancers throughout the summer. One of them of course is being punctual and as we all know, that is often an issue. After getting to know some of the members on the team for a few years, let’s just say a few latecomers will have to empty out their pockets.

Following the discussion, practice was in full effect beginning with a few footwork drills and basic Raas technique. The team formed a circle and attempted to mimic the choreographer, Meera Rajs’ grace and talent. Unfortunately, the speed and form was lacking and the circle was rotating slower than the senior circle at Navratri….we’ll get it don’t worry.

A concern that is likely to dominate the discussion throughout the summer is spinning the Dandiya. It’s time to close the casket of making the illusion of spinning, choreographer Meera Raj was adamant in making this a priority. So if you’re ever wondering why our wrists are hurting, that’s the reason…the only reason.

It was the first of many practices but it definitely started off on a strong note. The priority was clear; we’re in it to win it and each member will have to put in the work if they expect any success Labour Day weekend.

See you next practice Ladies and Gents’

RD Out

Check out previous blogs

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Ronil Desai is a Youth Ambassador for the Gujarati Society of British Columbia.

B-Unit 2011 Performance

Presenting The 2011 Diwali Show B-Unit Performance. We always kept note this team has stepped away from the normal and this is no different. The Visuals are amazing, the effects are apparent and the dance speaks for itself. Be sure to check out the brand Video by the B-Unit highlighting their 2011 performance.

Watch Now: Born To Be United

Did I Make It?

An audition is a chance to make a great first impression to the panel of judges. When entering an audition, you must not let yourself be overwhelmed. There are certain things to keep in mind so that your audition experience can be fulfilling, whether or not you get the part you are seeking.

The atmosphere was intense and the nerves were high on April 30th at Simon Fraser University, when the GSBC Raas Garba committee hosted the 2012 auditions for all who plan to play a role in this year’s competition which takes place in Calgary.

Once individuals completed their trek up on the mountain they checked in at the registry table and were assigned numbers to classify them in several groups. Once all the hopeful dancers checked in, the process took flight and Garba Choreographer Divya Thakore initiated the teaching procedure. The applicants were taught a minute of choreography that tested the basics and the probable challenges that one may face on the road to the competition.Some were prepared, some were eager, and some clearly lacked the experience to master the set. In the end, it’s precisely what each applicant needed, a challenge which illustrates that the expedition is not going to be a walk in the park.

The room was soaked with sweat, sprinkled with fatigue, stirred with talent, baked with excitement, and consumed with a hunger to succeed. It was a unique recipe that exemplifies what this entire competition is about. If you plan on hoisting the cup, you better put in the work from day one.

As the procedure continued each hopeful dancer marched into the room and performed in front of Randy, Paul and Simon… (According to their name tags). The room was soundless and edgy and the only sign of joy came from the expressions of the dancers who gave it their all to demonstrate that they deserve a spot on the roster.

Dancers were tested on their ability from head to toe, ranging from cleanliness, alignment, body structure to facial expressions and overall appeal. The judging criterion was well-defined and each dancer knew exactly what the judges were looking for, but it was up to each performer to add their own flavor to the mix.

After every registered participant completed their audition, there was nothing left to do but hope and analyze. Every applicant admitted to making a few mistakes while some left the room with a frown and chose not to speak about what went down. The expressions following the try-out were mixed, some were confident while some were unsure on what the future holds.

The judging panel and the selection committee will sit down and analyze the scores in order to make their final decisions. With so many eager individuals the most difficult aspect of building three teams is dealing with the numbers. The process will be intricate and measured accurately to ensure that each team is given a legitimate shot from day one.

I hope everyone is happy in the end and if for some reason the decision is not what you were expecting, just be sure to keep your head up continue taking the steps towards the overall goal. If anyone is itching for a spot it’s the men, I mean, they are the minority and this field of dance is usually dominated by the females. So good luck to all the men, I’m sure you’ll make the Raas Team 😉

To all the participants, the more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle…

Until we meet again…RD Out.

Check out the previous blog: 
Back at it again


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