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Punjabi Market celebrates 50th anniversary marking 'tremendous occasion'

Last Updated May 31, 2020 at 11:50 am PDT

(Courtesy: Punjabi Market)
Summary

The Punjabi Market is marking its 50th anniversary with a virtual celebration

Chair of the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective says the market holds fond memories for the community

Vancouver City Hall will also be lit up orange to mark the celebration

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Punjabi Market is marking a significant milestone for B.C.’s South Asian community by celebrating its 50th anniversary Sunday.

The market runs along Main Street from 49th to 51st Avenue, with shops, restaurants and grocery stores lining the streets.

Gulzar Nanda is the Chair of the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective and says for many immigrants, the market was seen as a major cultural hub.

“The market was the first visible marker in all of Canada that allowed our ancestors to have that feeling that we belong,” he says.

“It was a strong marker of identity for a lot of the South Asian community in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and really signified that we’ve arrived.”

Nanda says the community was where South Asians gathered and would possibly have their first dates or be a place couples would shop for their weddings.

“It was a hub for so many years and for it to come to its 50th year of existence, I think it’s just, it’s a tremendous occasion.”

Nanda adds the experience of “Little India” has changed for South Asians over the years, but market organizers plan is to lean into creating an “experience.”

“Our plan is to engage people in the arts communities and people in the cultural community to help bring events and programming to the market where people can experience it in a different way.”

While there have been some changes, you can still find the old-time staples like the Punjab Food Center or the All India Sweets & Restaurant.

Vancouver’s Little India is the oldest in North America, and Nanda says it’s the “first place in the entire world — outside of South Asia — to have street signs written in Punjabi.”

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration will be held online via social media Sunday evening.

“There’ll be some moments I’ll make you laugh, and they’ll definitely be some moments that might bring a tear to your eye as you’re a member just like all the great memories are created here.”

You can find the pre-recorded stream at around 7:10 p.m. on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

 

The celebration is part of a plan by the City of Vancouver to help revitalize the local area and shops.

City Hall will also be lit up orange to mark the anniversary.