Vancouver's Punjabi Market marking 50 years of culture and community with virtual celebrations
City hall will glow with orange light on May 31 in honour of the milestone anniversary
It's not the original celebration organizers were planning, but the 50th anniversary of Vancouver's Punjabi Market will not pass without a party this year.
The market is a three-block commercial district located on Main Street between East 48th and East 51st avenues. The area is considered the oldest Little India in North America and to recognize the market's five decade milestone, Mayor Kennedy Stewart is set to attend Sunday to kick off a day of festivities by proclaiming May 31 Punjabi Market Day.
The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into those plans, so organizers have now turned to their digital toolkit to commemorate the occasion online instead.
"We still felt there was an opportunity here to come together as a community to honour the market that has helped us connect to our South Asian cultures for the past 50 years," said Navi Rai, a spokesperson for the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective on The Early Edition Friday.
The online event kicks off May 31 on the market's Facebook, YouTube and Instagram platforms,10 minutes after the 7 p.m. cheer for front-line workers.
Amrit Gill, with Hockey Night in Punjabi, is hosting the celebration, which will include live performances, poetry, and interviews with Shushma Datt, Harinder Singh Toor, Sucha Singh and Harbans Kaur Claire.
Vancouver city hall will also be lit up in orange May 31, a fitting glow on the golden anniversary.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!<br><br>In honour of Punjabi Market's 50th anniversary, City Hall will be lit up in orange on May 31st! Please spread the word!<br><br>If you'll be in the area on Sunday, snap some photos after sunset and tag us in them! <a href="https://t.co/VlfnDd3J7S">pic.twitter.com/VlfnDd3J7S</a>—@punjabimarket
The Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective is made up of professionals, artists, students, entrepreneurs and activists and is working on collaborating with the city to develop area businesses and create a hub for arts and culture.
In 2019, city council passed a motion acknowledging the market as an area with historic significance and present day importance and committing to work with the community to identify ways to revitalize it.
"We are trying to help it evolve into what it could be in the future," said Rai.
One step in that evolution is launching an online shopping portal, so people all over the Lower Mainland can shop remotely. Rai said that is currently in the works, and when it is up and running, announcements will be made on social media.
She said businesses in the area were not unscathed by the pandemic, but some, such as grocery vendors, have stayed busy.
To hear the complete interview with Navi Rai on The Early Edition, tap here.
With files from The Early Edition