Little India

"Little India" and "Indian Village" both refer to Gerrard India Bazaar, the largest collection of South Asian restaurants, sari stores, and Bollywood movie-rental shops in North America. Follow your nose through the sweets shops, food stalls, and curry restaurants, and allow your eyes to be dazzled by storefront displays of jewelry, Hindu deities, and swaths of sensuous fabrics ablaze with sequins.

Mornings are generally quiet. Afternoons see a trickle of visitors, but the area really comes alive in the evening, when those with hungry bellies stroll in search of a fiery madras, creamy korma, or hearty masala curry. Many of the restaurants offer buffet lunches and dinners for around C$12 per person, which draw huge crowds on the weekends. Sunday afternoons set the familiar scene of Indian families crowding the sidewalks, enjoying corn on the cob and paan (a mild Indian stimulant of spices, fruits, and sometimes sugar wrapped in leaves of the betel pepper), and window-shopping their way up and down Gerrard Street.

As this area represents such a diverse group of people, there are many festivals throughout the year. During the biggest event, the three-day Festival of South Asia in August, stages are set for colorful music and dance performances, and the streets fill with the tantalizing scents of snack stalls and the calls of vendors peddling everything from henna tattoos to spicy corn on the cob. In late autumn, the Hindu Festival of Lights (Diwali) and the end of Ramadan (Eid) are celebrated together with another fun and fiery street fête. For more information on the festivals, contact 416/465–8513.

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