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Maria Abbas models an outfit by Pehnawa Couture, an Ottawa-based clothing business. Maria Abbas models an outfit by Pehnawa Couture, an Ottawa-based clothing business. Courtesy of Maha Ansari

Suhaag 2014: The “one-stop destination” for South Asian Event Planning

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This fall, Ottawa residents are busy planning their dream weddings and more than 1,500 people experienced the latest South Asian wedding trends at this year's Suhaag show on November 23rd.

Hunsdeep Rangar, lead organizer of Ottawa's Suhaag show, calls the show a "one-stop destination" for event-planning.

Rangar says that given the emphasis on weddings in South Asian culture, the Suhaag show serves as "an amazing one-stop destination" for those hoping to plan weddings.

"Weddings are the bedrock of society," says Rangar, "so we need an annual event to showcase some of the upcoming designs and for people to plan successful events."

In addition to publishing the Suhaag Magazine, Suhaag hosts trade shows including the annual Suhaag show in Ottawa.

This year's Ottawa show featured more than 50 booths lining an auditorium at the Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel in Gatineau. Models in colourful South Asian outfits glided across the stage throughout the evening.

Among the vendors at the show was Sara Yousuf, a manager at Al-Nisa beauty salon. Al-Nisa was the official hairstylist for the fashion show component of the show. For Yousuf, the event served as an opportunity for Ottawa businesses to expand their clientele base. She networked with current and prospective clients.

"Going to different shows and advertising what we have is a good way to bring in clientele so that they know what's available within Ottawa," she said.

Pakistani clothing business Pehnawa Couture's latest collections were one of the clothing lines featured in the fashion show. Kulsoom Aijaz, the Ottawa-based designer behind Pehnawa Couture, says November 23rd marked her first time participating in the Suhaag show.

"I wanted to come out and try it," said Aijaz, "and it's been a good experience."

Aijaz smiles as she says she is glad she participated in the show and that her clothes were well-received by the audience.

Maria Abbas modelled outfits designed by Aijaz at the Suhaag show. The auditorium boomed with applause as Abbas crossed the stage in a red Pakistani dress with beaded embellishments. She calls Pehnawa Couture's outfits "unique" and says she is glad to have represented an Ottawa-based designer at the Suhaag show.

Rangar says the growing representation of Ottawa businesses at the event marks the evolution of the Suhaag show since its inception.

"When we started off in 2009, probably 10% of our exhibitors were Ottawa-based," said Rangar. "Today, it's the reciprocal of that."

Rangar says 90% of the exhibitors at Suhaag are now Ottawa-based businesses. A rise in the number of exhibitors is one of many ways in which the show has changed, he adds.

"The show has evolved in terms of the exhibitors, the number of exhibitors, the presence and what they're bringing to the shows," he explains.

Jagjiven Dulku, CEO of DJ Double J, also remarks the evolution of the Suhaag show in Ottawa. He says the new venue of this year's show is a testament to its growing popularity, "The past few years, Suhaag was at Hampton, but this year, it's at [the Hilton] Lac-Leamy."

DJ Double J is affiliated with Jaan Punjab Di Bhangra, an Ottawa-based South Asian entertainment and event management company. Dulku accompanied his business partners at a booth at the Suhaag show. The Jaan Punjab Di Bhangra team also performed a traditional South Asian bhangra dance at the show.

While handing out business cards to passers-by, Dulku explains that attending the Suhaag show is an excellent means of diversifying his clientele.

"You have people from all over the city," says Dulku. "What better way to promote?"

Arjun Bhandari, also a member of the Jaan Punjab Di Bhangra team, says he was pleased with the turnout at the event.

"The turnout ... is very good," he says. "A lot of people have stopped by and asked us questions about their upcoming occasions or events."

Abbas calls the turnout at this year's Suhaag show "amazing" and says the show is a means of highlighting participants' common cultural identity.

"I feel as though the music, food, performances, show and fashion similarities in the South Asian community that were brought together at this event definitely made everyone forget their differences," says Abbas.

Rangar says he hopes the Suhaag show helps bring together people "from all walks of life across the globe."

"We're specifically an event to bring commonalities," he explains.

Rangar also expresses a desire to see the Suhaag brand continue to grow and attract interest in the future.

He says he hopes the audience at this year's Suhaag show will "take home the memories, take home the positivity, and make sure 2015 is even bigger and better."

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Read 4722 times Last modified on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 07:21
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