Catering to the city’s Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, and Bangladeshi ethnic communities, the Gerrard India Bazaar is better known as Toronto’s Little India. This stretch of restaurants, grocery stores, and clothing boutiques is only about a block long but is actually one of the largest South Asian marketplaces in North America. A visit here guarantees a memorable experience full of sights and sounds of one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the city.
Every year in August, the 2-day Festival of South Asia takes place here. The street is converted to a pedestrian zone, and shops and restaurants spill onto the sidewalk. A centre stage is set up to showcase traditional song, dance, and culture, and other family-friendly activities take place. As far as street festivals go, it isn’t as big or popular as some of Toronto’s other summer festivals, and I think this adds to its charm. Of course, one of the main reasons to come is the variety of amazing food found here. Scarborough and Brampton may have larger South Asian communities, but old-school Gerrard East is still where it’s at for no-nonsense street food. So far, Little India seems to have avoided the gentrification that has affected (for better or worse) so many other older Toronto neighbourhoods.
Last weekend some friends and I headed down to the festival and enjoyed the wonderful cultural diversity of this city. The hot and humid weather helped transport us to South Asia, if only for a day.