Since 2004, 5X Fest has and continues to undergo a creative evolution to highlight the best of what the local South Asian community has to offer.
Originally known as Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society (VIBC), 5X Fest began as a means to showcase South Asian culture into mainstream Vancouver culture. Bhangra was a stepping stone for the Punjabi community to share a form of art to those outside of the diaspora.
At the outset, VIBC was successful in its pursuit as it is hard to not see some sort of bhangra performance at major Vancouver arts and culture events, but the vision did not stop there.
If anything, VIBC and bhangra was a trojan horse for 5X Executive Director Tarun Nayar to set a precedent for South Asian excellence.
With his musical forte and experience in the industry, Nayar has since taken his passion for art and music and amalgamated it with his newfound mission to advocate for talent in communities that may not receive the recognition it deserves, and for Nayar, this community is Surrey.
Surrey is home to a large immigrant population, with the largest diaspora being Punjabi.
Nayar had recognized the presence of fusion festivals in the community, but had seen a trend of these festivals being run by white people to showcase POC.
This was problematic because for Nayar; this meant that while it gave South Asian voices a presence in the arts and culture community, it was being operated in a siloed space where there was a lack of creative autonomy.
This was also coupled with the fact that there exists little to no platforms in which South Asian youth could express themselves.
It was vital then for Nayar to create a tangible space for South Asian artists and their observers to have a touchpoint for them to be proud representatives and members of Surrey and come together and celebrate their community.
Nayar’s artistry as he states “has always been deeply connected to his South Asian identity.”
Being biracial (half white and half Punjabi) he had never felt as if his mixed identity had diluted his sense of self or his ability to connect to either part of himself.
5X Fest and Nayar are not intent on fixating on any one type of South Asian experience.
Instead, what Nayar hopes to convey is that the key to uplifting a community like Surrey is ensuring that any and all South Asian youth are given the opportunity to showcase their voice because the South Asian experience is not one that is monolithic.
The South Asian diaspora in Surrey is incredibly rich and varied and Nayar truly believes it is through the arts and especially music that acts as an indispensable bridge to interconnect the heart and authenticity South Asian youth in Surrey hold within themselves.
Reya Rana is a UBC grad who studied Poli Sci and English language. She is really interested in writing and reading rhetorical analyses, and she enjoys all kinds of music, fashion and books that make her cry. Her pronouns are she/her. Follow her on Twiter @ReyaRana10