Indian Summer festival will feature Rajasthan Josh, human rights activist Vandana Shiva, and filmmaker Leslee Udwin

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      One of South Asia's most beloved bands will return to Vancouver this summer as a headliner at the annual Indian Summer festival, which runs from July 7 to 16.

      Rajasthan Josh will bring its unique mix of Rajasthani music infused with Sufi rhythms and nagara drums to the Orpheum Theatre on July 9.

      The Songs of the Desert Sufis event will include performances by Juno winner Kinnie Starr, beat boxer Rup Sidhu, drummer Ashwin Sood, and violinist Sara Fitzpatrick. Baritone Shane Raman will be joined by the Sarah McLachlan School of Music Youth Choir. Hands down, it will be Vancouver's world music concert of the summer.

      Rajasthan Josh enchanted fans at the 2013 Indian Summer festival with their blissful, other-worldly sounds, which bring together Hindu and Muslim musical traditions. When they played at the opening gala that year, famed Vancouver chef Vikram Vij could seen dancing on a hill in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden as he was preparing dishes for the large crowd.

      In the past, Rajasthan Josh has collaborated with the Grateful Dead, Dub Colossus, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Rajasthan Josh also performed on the 2015 album Junun, which was created inside the walled 555-year-old Mehrangarh Fort overlooking Jodhpur with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood) filmed a documentary by the same name, and it premiered at last year's New York Film Festival.

      Tickets are available here.

      Vandana Shiva has won many awards for her human-rights and environmental work.

      Global food activist will speak at Indian Summer

      One of the world's most outspoken opponents of genetically modified foods, Dr. Vandana Shiva, will be in Vancouver during the festival. Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, was named as one of the seven most powerful women on the globe by Forbes magazine. Asia Week listed her as one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia.

      Shiva is also the celebrated author of such books as Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, and Staying Alive, the latter of which tried to change the way people perceived women in the developing world. She's probably done more than anyone else to raise public awareness about the thousands of farmers who've committed suicide in India. And Shiva, who has appeared in many documentaries over the years, has been a leader in trying to preserve the diversity of seeds in the face of corporate efforts to promote monocultures based on their patented products.

      Her presentation, Seeding the Future, takes place at St. Andrew's Wesley United Church (1022 Nelson Street) on July 14.

      Tickets are available here.

      Leslee Udwin will speak about India's Daughter

      On July 15, Indian Summer will host British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, whose Peabody Award-winning India’s Daughter was based on a famous gang rape in Delhi. The victim later died, sparking more public outrage. The Indian government banned Udwin's film from being distributed, in part because it included an interview with a jailed rapist.

      Udwin will be on-stage for an event called Dangerous Silences at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s.

      Tickets are available here.

      Festival explores Islam, LGBT relations, and immigration

      Indian Summer has several other events of interest, including Maple Leaf Islam, which features a conversation between authors Monia Mazigh, Karim Alrawi, and Ameen Merchant. Each brings a different perspective and it will be hosted by Devyani Saltzman, director of literary arts at the Banff Centre.

      Maple Leaf Islam takes place at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward's. Tickets are available here.

      Another event, Don’t Let Them Know, is a discussion about gay love and sexuality in modern India. The co-executive director of PeerNet, Romi Chandra Herbert, will host Kolkata novelist Sandip Roy, San Francisco writer Minal Hajratwala, and Lambda Award-winning Toronto artist Vivek Shraya.

      Don't Let Them Know takes place on July 14 at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s. Tickets are available here.

      Border Crossings will incorporate local people of South Asian descent to share personal stories, which will be depicted on-stage by three artists—actor Veena Sood, playwright Karim Alrawi, and sitarist Mohamed Assani—with live music and political theatre.

      According to the Indian Summer website, this event “seeks to challenge these ‘us and them’ positions, as well as to explore beyond the stereotypical narratives of the hard-working immigrant who makes it in Canada that we are all too familiar with”.

      Border Crossings takes place on July 12 and 13 at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Tickets are available here.

      Waris Ahluwalia was the subject of widespread media coverage when he was prevented from getting onto an airplane.

      Waris Ahluwalia is coming to Vancouver

      In recent years, the Indian Summer Arts Society has invited high-profile speakers to town in advance of the festival to generate some buzz. Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and iconic Bollywood actor Shabana Azmi (who starred in Mehta's Fire) are two such examples.

      On June 10 at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s, the spotlight will be on Gap model, actor, and jewellery designer Waris Ahluwalia. Billed as a “Modern Day Marco Polo”, his House of Waris creations have been a hit in cities around the world.

      Ahluwalia, an Indian American, attracted international headlines earlier this year when Mexican airport officials refused to let him board a plane because he wouldn’t remove his turban. His dignified response turned what might have been a negative situation into a positive educational experience. Aeromexico subsequently apologized.

      His film credits include The Grand Budapest Hotel, Beeba Boys, and Inside Man. Tickets for What Not to Wear with Waris are available here.

      The following night on June 11, Vikram Vij will prepare a dinner in honour of Ahluwalia to be held at a secret location. Also on the menu will be a dialogue about cultural sensitivity. Tickets are available here.

      A full list of events at Indian Summer is available here.