Written for Daily Hive by Rumneek Johal, Editor-in-Chief of 5X Press
The upcoming 5X Festival Blockparty boasts an impressive lineup of some of the biggest local and international South Asian music stars, from Intense, who is fresh off the heels of producing Diljit Dosanjh’s latest album, to The PropheC, and Fateh DOE, two South Asian musical artists whose sounds have transcended borders.
But aside from bringing together incredible talent and putting on one heck of a show during a three-day music festival in Vancouver — what is 5X Festival, anyways?
5X Festival is organized by the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration (VIBC), an organization that was founded in the Lower Mainland in 2004.
What initially started as a way to showcase South Asian culture in Vancouver, blossomed into the music festival and community now known as 5X Festival, which is a place for expression for South Asian youth. The festival is a way to showcase and share art for the diaspora, by the diaspora.
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The meaning behind the name “5X” has two parts. The “5” represents the number 5 which in Punjabi is “Panj”, deriving from the name “Punjab”: the land of five rivers.
The “X” is meant to represent expression, given that this is a space for South Asian youth to express themselves.
As a kid born and raised in Surrey, surrounded by a rich and diverse South Asian immigrant population, and a strong Punjabi community, like many children of immigrants, I navigated my identity trying to find that “sweet spot” where I could truly embody both the Canadian and Punjabi aspects of my identity.
I always felt I was looking for a space where I could celebrate and explore both, and not feel like I needed to explain myself, my culture, or my identity.
I wanted a place where myself and my peers could share our creative expressions, thoughts, and art, without needing to translate our experiences.
5X Festival is the community that bridges that gap.
The festival and surrounding community is a space to connect the diaspora to one another, and to the world.
From sharing culture, to learning from one another, to trying to elevate our art, conversations, and our community, this space is made for us, by us.
It’s a place where South Asian immigrants and children of immigrants can explore their identities and come together.
This is a space where no one tells you you’re “too brown,” or “not brown enough,” but rather gives you an opportunity to explore your personal connection to culture, and establish new connections with other people who are trying to do the same in their own unique ways.
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Aside from the annual Blockparty, which returns in real life this year after going digital last year due to COVID-19, our community blog & magazine, 5X Press publishes stories that pertain to South Asian culture, music, news, conversations, & much more, establishing a space for much-needed intra-community dialogue for South Asians in Canada.
In the off-season we also host panel discussions and interviews with big names in the South Asian creative world, sharing key learnings, takeaways, and future plans, to give youth the conviction to take different pathways in their career and artistic endeavours, and provide them with a community of people around them wanting to see them thrive.
5X Festival is more than just a music festival; it is a space to come together to learn about, create and celebrate culture and inspire change in the South Asian community.