Skantha & Rishi

Skantha & Rishi are two brothers that are the sons of a Swami who has a Hindu temple (Sri Durka Temple) on Lawrence Avenue. The two brothers grew up spent a lot of their time, living, playing & working on the Lawrence Ave. strip.

What does Lawrence Ave mean to you?

Rishi: It’s where I grew up pretty much, its culture

Skantha: Yea, its the world on one street pretty much, you drive down Lawrence to get to all these different pockets of cultures and communities, it evolved over the past 20 – 22 years I’ve been living.

Rishi: when I first moved year I was quite young so I don’t have a great memory of it but I would say from 94, for me personally the last 12 – 15 years is when I really got to know Lawrence & all the different aspects of it.

Skantha: My middle school is off on Lawrence, my high school was off on Lawrence, the transformation at shops at don mills was huge, I remember when I was going to high school, going to the mall don mills centre, the stories after high school of hanging out & growing up in the area, & now its this totally hip & happening place.

Rishi: Slowly I do see transformation of Lawrence & Don Mills, slowly I do they are rebuilding, reconstructing I would say to make it more higher end, I do see the progress slowly but just over time, it will eventually transformation of more modern, higher scale places, shop at don mills is one example, Victoria Terrace had renovations and they opened up quite a few shops that is relevant to our urban and modern society, they opened up a high end dealership on Lawrence. I guess they started and Don mills and slowly moving towards Victoria Park, Wexford Heights & onwards. Even from the east coming to the west, Markham & Lawrence area, Cedabrae they re did the whole entire mall trying to make it more modern.

Skantha: Like the changes in Scarborough General hospital, they’ve redone the whole ER part in a new wing, it’s a nice hospital right now, and they’ve developed over the last 5-6 years. There are little pockets everywhere, you know growing up at pharmacy & warden you got the little Beirut, the Afghani restaurants, the Iranian restaurants, the shawarma places.

Rishi: that’s where another one of your questions comes up, a story that happens on Lawrence, is that yearly event the taste of Lawrence, where you get to experience all that different culture and communities and their food on Lawrence avenue and they all come together and you can just walk down and experience everything

Skantha: Rib Fest at Thompson Park happens always.

What does Lawrence avenue mean to your community?

Rishi: Well our community, our family runs a Hindu temple it’s the first in Toronto & second in the GTA and it is right of Lawrence avenue. It’s where our community gets together for any sort of religious festival, it’s a place where they can worship

Skantha: Our festival that happens every summer is probably one of the biggest than any other temples and we bring about 20 – 25 thousand over 25 days & that’s huge, its a place for everyone to get together,

Rishi: & they come from all over the world too, there are people that come from states, India

Skantha: We had the biggest opening ceremony from the temple in the world outside of India, Sri-lanka & Malaysia. That was on Lawrence, we had prime-minister dignitaries, gurus from all over the world come visit the temple.

Rishi: Lawrence avenue, there is a plaza right off of pharmacy & I remember one of the first video stores ever in Scarborough was on Lawrence avenue: it’s called shegan brothers & that is where everyone use to go to get there Tamil movies, or soap operas & audio cds. There is also photo fast, which is at Wexford Heights. Those two were the first two people that brought the Tamil community together on Lawrence Avenue & that is significant.

Skantha: In terms of food Lakshmi catering has been there for years, one of the only places that sold authentic Sri-Lankan food & it’s still there, & there a whole various parts of Toronto have different Sri-Lankan restaurants but that used to be the first place that had authentic food.

What brought you to Lawrence Avenue?

Rishi: It wasn’t a decision we made, it was something our parents did when we were really young & we came here and we adapted & we got to love the community

Skantha: when I was younger, I didn’t want to move. Growing up in Scarborough, you have friends, leaving them, school new environment, it was a big change but I’m glad I moved to where I did & went to the schools that I did.

Rishi: Personally I love it on Lawrence avenue, especially where we live on Lawrence avenue, I believe it is central to a lot of places if you want to go anywhere, it’s not that far to drive. Anything you need is close by, if you want food at 4:00 in the morning you could get it on Lawrence Avenue. Love the place, love the street, and love the community

Tell me a story that happened to Lawrence:

Skantha: Our most found memory of Lawrence avenue, is when we moved, the temple first started in Markham & Finch & this is 1994, the temple bough a place a Victoria Park and Lawrence and we had an entire procession from Markham and finch to Victoria park and Lawrence, there were police escorts, we had a flat bed tow truck decorated with a chariot, statues, we had people walking behind and in front, we had the entire street shut down from Markham & Finch to Markham & Lawrence and then down Lawrence. I think that no one had ever done that & it was growing it was a profound memory.

Rishi: I remember being in that flat bed when I was young & being really excited.

Photo by Sid Naidu

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