Founded by New Westminsters own internationally recognized Cassius Khan, the first ever Mushtari Begum Festival is not only a tribute to his guru, the late Ghazal Queen Mushtari Begum, but it is a platform for professional practitioners of Indian Classical Music and Dance to showcase their rare talents to the Canadian audience.
In this day and age, traditional styles of singing such as Ghazal, Khayal and Thumri are becoming increasingly rare. Similarly, it is unusual to see different forms of Indian Classical Dance with live musical accompaniment. Cassius Khan was concerned about the survival of Indian Classical Music and Dance in Canada as there are not many platforms for them to flourish. He felt a personal responsibility to ensure the survival of the various art forms, especially in Canada.
Accordingly, he invited some of the finest Indian and Canadian artists to join him on stage to present a rare treat, and ensure that these arts and artists are showcased. The Massey Theatre, understanding the importance of this cause, generously provided their venue as the Festival site in 2012, and continues to do so every year in September.