First ever Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Winterfest festival draws Full House shows!

With a huge amount of confidence and a passionate team, but absolutely no history to go by, Masala! Mehndi! Masti! (M!M!M!) kicked off the first ever South Asian winter festival to launch its 10th year celebrations in 2010. With a phenomenal track record of summer festivals, the M!M!M! team launched a brilliant concept on a fabulous weekend – sun, glorious sun and no winds, with plus 3 degree temperatures! Harbourfront Center has never looked so colourful and vibrant in winter as it did this past weekend.

The celebrations kicked off on Thursday night (Feb18th) with a full house at the Gladstone Hotel. A feast of music co-hosted with TablaHYPE’s Tabla-Co-Lab featuring brilliant performances by Gurpreet Chana and guest artists Usra Leedham, Andrea Lucarelli and Version Xcursion. Positive vibrations permeated an excellent evening that saw artists (some who performed at M!M!M!’s first festival ten years ago), corporate bigwigs and even mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi attend.

Friday evening opened with a fantastic cultural collaboration of classical Indian and Persian dance by Paromita Kar and Ida Meftahi. The South Asian festival of colors, ‘Holi’ was marked by celebratory music performed by a stellar group of folk singers and musicians led by Vineeta Dayal and Chitra Mathur.
This was followed by a huge line up for the much anticipated special pre screening of Cooking with Stella which opens to the public in Canada next month. Producer David Hamilton, internationally acclaimed director Deepa Mehta (who wrote the script), lead actor Don McKellar and his real life inspiration, Chef Cameron, were all on hand to introduce the film and participate in a lively Q & A session led by OMNI TV’s Mohit Rajhans.
The Artists’ Walkway was a dedicated space for artists’ work featuring: Asha Aditi Ruparelia Gaya Navaratnam, Annandi Merhai, and Shawn Barry.  
The festival saluted the achievement of a decade in the arts of social activist drum and bass band Lal featuring Rosina Kazi and Murr. 
The late night performances for MMM Rocks! were highlighted by Canadian Pakistani group KAZAK launching their worldwide debut album Avraga. Their performance was preceded by Naomi Zaman and her song Rock This Desi and songstress-about-town Prita Chhabra and a surprise guest appearance by Imaan Faith. All girl band Secret Trial 5 also thrilled the crowd with their punk rock vibe.  
Saturday’s events were kicked off with dance workshops and performances by DIYAS Arts & Entertainment, The Ismailova Theatre of Dance, Melange Entertainment, and 7 Arts Dance Company. Hugely popular and packed to the hilt, this special GhuMMMo! branded feature of the festival was a massive crowd favourite.  
The pristine white on the ice rink at Harbourfront Centre was splashed, for the first time, with the colourful vibrancy of professional ice skaters performing popular Bollywood tracks  for the four Bollywood on Ice shows. 
The food demos, well presented by 5th ElementT’s Chef Johnee who demonstrated his skills with fruit carving, Shrimp Curry, Spicy Mango Salad, and Chicken Chettinad, offering the audience generous samples. 
Short films Rahul’s Arranged Marriage, When Chotalaal Met Christina and Dilip Mehta’s feature film The Forgotten Woman, all ran to full house shows and elicited great audience response and interaction with the film makers.  
Music performances brought on standing ovations as Mint & Crow, Ayesha, Wardah and Blitz launched The Urban Youth Showcase. M!M!M! alumnus Deesha brought the house down with a World Premiere performance of songs from her yet unreleased second album.  
The SAMA (Sacred Arts and Music Alliance) concert featured spiritual music inspired by Sufi, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Christian and Native cultures. Packed to capacity, audiences gave this performance a rousing standing ovation.  
Onkar Singh’s interactive and insightful performance had great following as he shared personal inspirations and experiences associated with his music session.  
Dhol Circle’s interactive drumming session had festival goers dancing and drumming in a frenzy as they picked up ‘dhols’ and jammed with the artists.  
Theatre and poetry performances ‘Tea With Tagore’ by Rasik Arts and Umbereen Inayat’s ‘Meri Kahani’ were so popular that anxious patrons were turned away due to full houses.  
The late night party rocked the festival as everyone danced the night away to the inimitable sound of DJ Amita and DJ Double Up after a unique performance by new on the scene boy-band

Avalla – a Bhangra fusion group who hit the crowd with a fresh blast to the usual bhangra sounds! 

A bazaar, great food, arts and crafts and kids story telling added to all of the artistic programming to ensure smiling faces, lots of colour and positive vibes across the Harbourfront Centre site!

All boy Bhangra band ‘Avalla’:

Full House at ‘Cooking with Stella’:

Abhishek Mathur [festival director] and Deepa Mehta [Director]:


DJ Amita and DJ Double Up:

Diyas Arts and Entertainment:

"Photo Credit: Projected Life Photography"

For more information please contact:

Nita Balani: 416.902.6482
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  1. loved the article by Nita Balani – very luccomment_ID and descriptive, conjuring up the perfect pictures for those like me who couldn’t be there !

  2. Congratulations on the great success – it’s always so amazing to see full house turnouts at Asian festivals in the west. Keep the culture alive and keep rocking!

  3. Well done; congratulations Nita and the rest of the team – it was a great weekend, with Asian culture and the attitude of the community coming out winners!! Here’s to the start of the MMM winter fest tradition!

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