May 1, 2008
Hon. Greg Sorbara, Member of
Provincial Parliament, Ontario; Hon. John Tory, Leader,
Progressive Conservative Party, Ontario; and Shri Satish
Mehta, Consul-General of India in Toronto were co-hosts
at the Gala Evening supporting the Canadian Museum of Cultural
Heritage of Indo-Canadians held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan
Mandir, Toronto on May 1, 2008. The Honorable Monte Solberg,
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development was the
The Canadian Museum of Cultural
Heritage of Indo-Canadians is Canada's premier museum dedicated
to showcasing and promoting the understanding of the history,
civilization, diversity and cultural heritage of Canadians
whose ancestry originates from India. The Museum is uniquely
designed to inspire visitors to appreciate how the rich
heritage of Indo-Canadians has contributed to the fields
of art, architecture, science, democracy, education, culture,
pluralism and spiritual values. It elaborates on and creatively
displays, both to educate and experience the over 10,000-year-old
colorful and continuously living civilization.
Many high profile corporate
and political were present with family, friends, colleagues
and clients to share an evening of enchanting experiences.
The guests enjoyed the beauty of the architecture of the
museum with a personal tour of the complex and marveled
at the intricacy of the wood and marble carvings and sculptures.
After the tour, guests savored
an elegant Indian dinner in the beautiful Haveli as they
enjoyed enchanting music. 12-year-old member of the BAPS
children's forum, Neil Wadhvana moved the audience with
his beautiful rendition of the national anthems of Canada
and India. This was followed by a lively multi-media presentation
of Indo-Canadian Heritage. During his presentation, the
Chief Guest, Hon. Monte Solberg presented a golden 'Amrut
Kalash' to the Museum on behalf of the Prime Minister of
Canada. This was the same 'Amrut Kalash' that Pramukh Swami
Maharaj had given to the Prime Minister during the inauguration
of the Museum on July 22, 2007. The Prime Minister had now
gifted the historic 'Amrut Kalash' back to the community
to be kept in the Museum.
"There is tremendous diversity
within the Indo-Canadian community, in terms of both religion
and country of origin," said Minister Solberg. "The architecture
of this building alone is a testament to the many ways that
Indo-Canadian culture and traditions have enriched Canada."
Minister Duguid delivered a
message from Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of the Province
of Ontario applauding the Museum, "The museum not only educates
visitors about the vibrant culture, rich traditions and
storied lives of Canadians of Indian descents - it also
celebrates the tremendous social, cultural and economic
contributions that Indo-Canadians have made and continue
to make, to our province and our Country."
On behalf of BAPS, the co-hosts
and patrons presented each of the major sponsors of the
evening with a special Certificate of Appreciation and a
beautifully hand-carved gift.
Hon. Jason Kenney, Secretary
of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), sent
a special message saying: "At the grand opening of this
facility, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, 'the BAPS
Swaminarayan complex stands as a testament to Canada's and
India's proud traditions of pluralism.' This gala gives
us a chance to reflect on the ways in which Indian culture
and heritage have enriched the Canadian mosaic. It is also
an opportunity to celebrate the skills and knowledge of
Indo-Canadians and their ancestors, which are reflected
in the building's architecture, exhibits, and activities."
In honor of the celebration,
The Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage) released a
special statement to all media proclaiming: "The Government
of Canada Delivers Message of Support to Canadian Museum
of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadian."
The Prime Minister of Canada
continues to remember his experience with BAPS, Pramukh
Swami Maharaj and the volunteers and often refers to his
visit to the Mandir/Museum during his speaking engagements.
At a recent public event in Toronto, he said: "I attended
the opening of the BAPS Swaminarayan Complex here in Toronto
last summer (July 22, 2007). It is a truly extraordinary
building, one of the architectural wonders of the world.
It simply would not exist here with out the influence and
the support of tens of thousands of Canadians of Indian
Greetings and blessings were
also brought to the gathering from Pramukh Swami Maharaj
as the inspirer and creator of the Museum and Mandir. The
Gala Evening ended with a colorful and riveting farewell
dance performed by members of the BAPS youth group. Many
of the guests, who were visiting the BAPS Complex for the
first time, said that they would like to return with their
family, friends and colleagues to see the Museum and Mandir.