Toronto: Describing Gujarat as India`s go-to state, Canadian leaders joined the Gujarati diaspora here in honouring Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal to mark the Swarnim Jayanti (golden jubilee) of the state.
Thousands of Gujaratis, who had packed into the Toronto Congress Centre in the chilling weather Saturday, cheered as the community conferred the Vishva Gujarati Pratibha Award on its most famous Bollywood son.
Thanking them for the honour, Rawal said he was very grateful for their trust and love. He said he was proud to belong to a community that is leading India on the path of progress.
Thanks to its strides made by his native state, he said, everybody is making a beeline for Gujarat now.
"Gujarat`s progress is India`s progress and the leadership needs to be lauded for it," he said.
Rawal, who has acted in comedy films like "Hera Pheri" and "Phir Hera Pheri", took the Gujarati diaspora back to its roots by reciting nostalgic poems highlighting their dilemma in their adopted land.
The event was organised by the Gujarati Business Association of Canada and the Lalit Kala Mandal.
At their biggest show in Canada to this date, Gujarati Canadians were also treated to some glimpses of the super-hit comedy "Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah".
Dilip Joshi, who plays the role of Jethalal Gada, and Disah Vakani, who plays Daya Gada in the comedy, had the audience in splits with barbs at each other.
In his message to the community on this occasion, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lauded its role in India`s and Canada`s development.
Their entrepreneurial skills have turned Gujarat into India`s leading state, the prime minister said.
Emphasizing the deepening business ties between the two countries, Harper said his government opened three new trade offices in India to speed up the progress. The newly opened Ahmedabad office will also deepen Canada`s engagement with Gujarat, he said.
Lauding the contribution of the community, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the Gujaratis exemplify the pluralistic success story of Canada.
Canadian opposition leader Michael Ignatieff said Gujarat has become India`s go-to state thanks to the entrepreneurship of the community.
Gujarati artists regaled the audience with various forms of dance forms, including dandiya raas, and songs.
There are about 150,000 Gujaratis in Canada, making them the second largest Indian group here after the Punjabi community, which numbers more than half a million.