Toronto: The Year of India in Canada opened on Friday night in Gatineau, Quebec, with Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan and Ayaan launching the year-long celebrations with a riveting performance.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indo-Canadian parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai and other leaders joined Indian High Commissioner Shashishekhar M Gavai and the Indo-Canadian community at a grand ceremony that gave a glimpse into India`s rich classical traditions.
Welcoming the celebration, the Canadian Prime Minister said: "Our country is home to a vibrant, nearly one-million strong, Indo-Canadian community that plays a vital role in Canada`s economic and cultural landscape.”
"This year will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase India`s colourful culture and traditions while strengthening connections between our two countries," he said.
Touching upon the growing partnership between the two countries, Harper said: "The Year of India in Canada represents a unique opportunity to explore Canada`s rich cultural diversity. I encourage all Canadians to participate in the festivities."
The Year of India will treat Canadians across Canada to India`s cultural diversity, cuisine, music, dance and theatre, literary gatherings, book fairs, business meetings and children`s events.
Among the major events, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards celebration would be held in Toronto in June. It will be the biggest Bollywood show in Canada, where Hindi films now open in main theatres at the same time they open in India.
India will also hold its first mini-Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Toronto in June when non-resident Indians from across North America will attend.
The Year of India in Canada will be a big boost to India-Canada relations which are deepening fast, with the two countries signing the crucial nuclear deal here last year. The two countries have also decided to triple their trade from the present USD 5 billion by 2015.
Around a dozen Canadian leaders travelled to India last year.
While Harper was in India in November 2009, his counterpart Manmohan Singh came here in June 2010 - the first visit by any Indian Prime Minister to Canada since 1973.