Diwali celebration by Indian cultural society of Darwin, Australia!

By : Shashi Khanna.

Diwali may be over in India but the celebration and festivity continues with zeal in cities around Australia. Indian cultural society in Darwin celebrated DIWALI  at the Indoor sports stadium. A well organised program attended by whose who and nearly all the Indian community at Darwin. Indian cultural society ,a group of focused Indians who are taking from their seniors – the founder members are putting the showcase in a wonderful manner. 
 
 
Tables laid for the families and stage set for performances. A beautiful program from classical ,folk , bollywood and singing was on the list. Well anchored and presented orderly was appreciated by all. Annual address and introduction of the committee members was well presented by the President of the society. The area MLA read her message wishing every one Happy Diwali and joyfully welcoming all to NT. 
 
Anchoring done by young and children both was very cute. The perfect dance performances by all age groups was appreciated. The beats of Bhangra swayed all to their feet. Loud applause and whistles followed in appreciation. 
Snacks,dinner and drinks were laid throughout the evening which was much enjoyed by all. Tickling taste buds Indian food was great along with the Indian music. 
 
 
All dressed up in their best of Indian apparel and accessories further adorned the atmosphere. A diya lit on each table luminated the festival. Meeting the Indian diaspora to such an extent was amazing. An enjoyable evening concluded with every one on the floor dancing their hearts out to the beats of Punjab and bollywood. 
 
Indians may be miles away from their country miles apart from the society but it was heartening to see they gave created a mini India here at Australia. The charm of Indian music , food and dresses has captivated the foreign hearts too who mingle and participate in Indian festivals with zeal and zest. The harmony amongst Indians from any state and with Australian society is an examplaire. 
 
World is a huge family and we all are the brothers and sisters with different colours, cultures and religions living togather in harmony celebrating each festival and every moment. I have amazing experiences to take back home and share with India. How harmonious and lovingly people live here in togatherness,inspiring all the sects, culture and Indian society. Long live our Indo-Aussie relationship emerging as an example for world wide citizens. The divine sense of acceptance and giving is truly showcased here. 
 
 
I find myself overwhelmed and lucky to witness and participate in all this. 
Thank you so much Sh.Surinder Jain from Hindu council of Australia , Sydney for giving me this extremely wonderful opportunity to report from Darwin,NT. It’s surely an interesting and worthy vilunteering. God bless and I again salute to all the members of Hindu council of Australia specially my brother Somesh Sibal for introducing me to Hindu council of Australia for all their fruitful efforts and hard work for promotion of Indian culture in Australia. Also my heartiest congratulations and greetings to the Australian society and government for their support and encouragement. 
 
I leave with a heavy heart but with zeal and promise to join back you all again next year. Lovely being a volunteer at Hindu council of Australia. All good wishes & good luck !! 

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Pauline Hanson gives thumbs up to Indian Migration to Australia

By : Surinder Jain.

Pauline Lee Hanson is an Australian politician and a Senator representing the state of Queensland. She is also the founder and leader of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (PHON). Despite Hanson’s repeated denials of charges of racism,[13] her views on race and immigration have been discussed widely in Australia. In her maiden speech, Hanson proposed a drastic reduction in immigration with particular reference to immigrants from Asia. Condemning multiculturalism, her One Nation party has rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies.[20] Hanson publicly backed Kevin Andrews, then Minister for Immigration under John Howard, in his views about African migrants and crime.[25]

Senator Pauline Hanson (source : Wikipedia)

Hindu Council of Australia, in association with the Hon Coleman MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Senator the Hon Zed Seselja Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, celebraterd Deepawali festival and Annakut in the Great Hall of the Federal Parliament House in Canberra on Monday December 3, 2018. Pauline was one of the honored guests at Diwali.

Although Diwali has been celebrated at federal Parliament for over ten years now, it was the first time that Pauline Hanson joined. “This is the first time I have ever been to this event. I am not anti-migrant at all.” She said that she did not see any  problem with Indians migrating to Australia.  She expressed her happiness for having joined Diwali festivities. “It’s very special what I understand as a community. I am still learning. I don’t understand it fully but I think as a member of parliament and a national political party, it’s nice to be a part of it and I support the Indian community on this special day.”

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NT Parliament celebrates Diwali

By : Shashi Khanna.

Northern Territory government celebrated the Indian festival of lights ,Diwali at Darwin, Parliament house. The beautiful huge structure of Parliament stands besides the water front. Amazing sunset adorned this festivity further at the lush green lawns of the Parliament. 
 
Extremely warm and whole heartedly welcome awaited the Indian community at the hall. All dressed up in their best of attires , Indian colourful dresses and sarees, chirpy girls swaying in their flowing dresses and men in their kurta pajama or semiformals, proudly represented India in this far away land of Australia. 
Minister for multicultural affairs along with her council lighted the lamp with Hindu society President . Well organised and beautifully synchronised dance performances by Indian community children mesmerized all . Saraswati Vandana , Rajasthan folk dance and much applauded performances brightened the atmosphere further. Heart felt speeches by the minister of Council showing the warmth and welcome of the Indian community in the society was motivating. The contributions of Indian towards the state, culture and society is appreciable. 
Every one wanted to have the best of the clicks as the cherished memories . High tea with Indian snacks and drinks added an Indian aroma to the atmosphere. 
 
A well organised evening of festivity and celebration concluded with Indian diaspora meeting each other and the members of the council in a very informal atmosphere of love, harmony and happiness which is the message of Diwali , spreading love light and happiness all over. 
 
Again ,on my personal note it seemed like a dream for me. I had to convince myself that I’m attending Diwali celebration by a state government in Continent of Australia. It was a wow moment for me. Of course, the efforts and hard work of my brothers and sisters who are settled here and contributing towards the society and country. Their efforts to spread the rich Indian culture is worth recognition and appreciation. It was pride to see many second generation Indians well absorbed in the government protocol. 
 
I felt like my purpose of visiting Australia during DIWALI Times is well served. Again congratulations and salute to the wonderful , amazing,  diligent Indian diaspora in Australia. Well done , kudoos guys !! Pride India Proud Indian!!

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Diwali celebrated in Strathfield

By : Rajeev Bhandula.

Hindu Council of Australia celebrated Deepawali in Strathfield on 18th November 2018 at Strathfield Park. The event was supported by Strathfield Council.

Diwali in Strathfield 2018

Over 1500 people attended from different communities including Australians and korean community. Jody Mckay Member of Parliament of state from strathfield and Gulian Vacari Mayor of Strathfield attended the event and welcomed by Mr.Jay Raman NSW President Hindu Council of Australia NSW.

There were 12 stalls which include Food, Real Estate, Indian dresses,Yoga stall and Ekal Youth stall. There were Free Rides and Free Mehndi which was attraction for children and Ladies.

Cultural Programme started from 11am and went through till 4.30pm. There were classical dances, Bollywood Dances and songs which were sung by Mr Vijay Jogia well known singer in Australia.

Nice Weather helped the event as well. Overall event was well recieved and enjoyed
by attendees.

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Cumberland Diwali Street Festival

Cumberland Council is holding its first DIWALI STREET FESTIVAL in 2018 and you are invited to join us in creating a lively street market and sell your products to the Wentworthville community in a fun colourful atmosphere!

Celebrations will be held on Saturday 17th November 2018 between 5.00pm and 9.00pm on Station Street, Wentworthville and will include main stage entertainment, roving and street performances and rides and cultural activities fun for the whole family!

 

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Hindu chaplains help Hindu Women prisoners in Melbourne

By : Makaran Bhagwat, Melbourne.

Hindu Council of Australia (Vic) currently has volunteer spiritual care providers (Hindu Chaplains) who have been providing their services in the health care system and are now extending it to other areas include prisons.

The chaplains received following request from a female prison :

A Women’s Prison in Victoria : We currently have an Indian woman here  who follows Hinduism and she has requested to be linked in with someone from a Hindu Temple. It was suggested that you might be able to assist with organising someone to come in and meet with her. I am also seeking some advise in regards to her celebrating Shradh. She has requested specific food items for these celebrations, but I have not had much luck through the prison, so was hoping you might be able to direct me in regards to this as well.

 
We visited the Centre and had an opportunity to meet the 2 inmates requesting this meeting.
 
It appears that both of them have 2 main requirements / requests to be granted, which are related to the Hindu faith and Indian ethnicity, which Hindu Council of Australia  are able to fulfill.
 
We were told that in the multifaith chapel at the centre, while there were provisions for other faiths, there is nothing at present for the Hindu faith.
 
We can assist here by providing, religious texts, and also picture frames of Hindu Gods which can go on the Chapel wall to support their prayers.
 
Secondly, both of them were saying that the other inmates belonging to other  communities, could buy the food items of their taste and choice from the store within their weekly allowance. Unfortunately there is no Indian grocery available for them to cook food of their choice. Again on this point Hindu Council of Australia can assist by engaging with the Centre to identify some basic items, like spices, Basmati rice, lentils etc so that they can be purchased for their cooking needs.
 
In addition to this, for the forthcoming important Hindu festival “Diwali” ,the festival of lights, they would like to light a candle at the current interfaith place / chapel.
 
Overall it was a good visit and we have given them some printouts of the prayers, which can hopefully bring in some positive feeling in them in the current circumstances.
 
Makarand Bhagwat
Director
Hindu Council of Australia (Vic)

 

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Hindu Council connects with UWS students for Diwali

Hindu Council of Australia has made contact with University of Western Sydney (UWS) students and had a low key Diwali sweets distribution with them on 8th November 2018. UWS is one of the premier Universities of Sydney and has over 6,000 Indian students many of them from India, studying in it.

Soup

The University holds a light soup and bread session for its Parramatta campus students every Thursday evening at 6pm which provides free food and a place to mingle for all its students. The food distribution is managed by Parramatta Mission and is attended by about 30-40 students every week.

Hindu Council put up some posters about Diwali and supplied Kheer and Diwali sweets. The Mission agreed to our request to have vegetarian only soup and bread for the day. About 50 Australian, Asian and Indian students visited the soup kitchen. There was a visible smile on the faces of Indian students familiar with Diwali and their happiness could be seen beaming from their faces.

Kheer for Students on Diwali Soup Day

One of the students from Gujarat who has been in UWS for two years came up to me and asked if she can touch my feet as she needs blessings of an elder on this new year day. She touched my feet and her act touched my heart.

Students project of Hindu Council aims at connecting University going students with the existing Hindu Community here and to provide emotional support to overseas and away from home students. Bhupinder Chabra and Reshma Krishnappa are helping with this initiative.

Hindu Council Volunteers at UWS kitchen for Diwali

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Hindu Council Donates to Farmers Relief Fund

Hindu Council gave a cheque for $11,000 to the Premier’s Farmers Relief Fund. 

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Diwali becomes an important festival of Australia

By : Surinder Jain.

After Australia abolished it’s whites only immigration policy in the 60s, Indians started migrating to Australia for education and work. Today there are over 450,000 Hindus in Australia who call Australia home.

Marriage Procession through the streets of Parramatta

For many decades Diwali celebrations were a private affair among family or temples. All that changed in 1998 when Hindu Council of Australia started celebrating Diwali at a grand scale in Paramatta Park in western Sydney. Twenty years later, the twentieth year of Diwali in Australia has been a turning point in the history of Indians in Australia. 

Multicultural Australia has accepted Hindus and Indians and have accepted Diwali as a significant Australian celebration, significant enough for the Prime Minister and the Premier to visit and celebrate Diwali festivities. Members of Parliament from all shades of politics joined them. Most MPs were dressed in either Sarees, Salwar Kameez or Indian Kurta.

 

Diwali 2018 Parramatta

Their presence at the festival adorning Indian clothes is a manifestation of Australians having accepted Indians and Hindus as their own.

This Diwali also marks another significant change in Australia. Main stream and very popular radio show hosts like ABC Sydney Radio Breakfast show hosted by Robbie and Wendy and listened to by thousands driving to their work in the morning, welcomed Diwali in their program. 

Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer.
Credit: ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast

Such inclusion of Diwali in opinion setting Radio shows and presence of political powerful in festivities is something we Hindus feel proud of. We benefit from the success of and feel proud to have called Australia home. Let’s return the favour and make Australia proud of us.

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Ramayana puppet show from Prague performed in Sydney

By : Mohan Vijayraghavan.

Lenka and Eric who are puppeteers from Prague, performed a Puppet Show at Hindu Council of Australia’s Deepavali festival held at Parramatta on 4th November 2018.

Lenka and myself are associated for about 8 years now and have done some shows in Hindu education camps and at the Powerhouse museum but mostly along the lines of European stories since her dolls are all only those types.

Lenka and Eric producers of the Ramanyana Puppet Show

 
However, making a puppet show for Ramayan was a special challange as she had to make special puppets of animal forms like monkey, deer and dragon as well 1 ten headed Ravana and Bows and Arrows. To help understand the story and characters of Ramayana, Lenka made multiple trips to my house to discuss the scenes and plan and stayed the entire day from 9am until past 11pm to pick up her stuff. It was a labour of love for both of us and Lenka charged only a token amount for providing her services.
I told her she had given so much to our community and this token of money was nothing to show the worth of the program but this show has given me confidence to take it to more children in future across Australia to promote Indian stories.

Children watching the Puppet Show

 
Mohan and Kavita both associated with Hindu scripture classes at Holsworthy Primary school with the help of Viji wrote the Ramayana story line suitable for a puppet show. All the background and other supporting paintings/drawings and props  (around 20) were sourced out to disabled people from Chennai, India.
 
On being given a go ahead by Hindu Council, Lenka and myself started doing the ground work and preparing the dolls and drawings. We had few sessions discussing the end-to-end process covering from the birth of Ram until his coronation and came out which scenes we will use puppets and which ones we will talk by showing the drawings so while narrating the story, the puppeteers have enough time to change the scene.
 
Following key scenes from Ramayana were played by the puppets showing the entire life of adult Rama.
  1. Breaking of bow and Ram/Sita and his brothers marriage
  2. Mantra poisoning the mid of kaikeyi and asking Rama t as o be sent to forest.
  3. Ram,Sita,Lakshmana leaving Ayodhya in chariot drawn by Sumantra.
  4.  Sita asking Rama to catch the deer and Rama going and shooting Maricha (deer)
  5. Sita asking Lakshmana to go and look for Ram
  6. Ravana coming and kidnapping Sita and flying in Pushpak viman.
  7. Jatayu trying to save by fighting with Ravana and falling down dead
  8. Ram and Lakshman meeting Jatayu and hearing the story.
  9. Ram,Lakshman meeting Hanuman
  10. Fight between Vali and Sugriva and Vali getting killed. (in this scene we gave a bow to boys in the audience and made them shoot vali)
  11. Hanuman flying over the ocean, encountering the dragon.
  12. Hanuman meeting Sita in Ashoka vanam.
  13. Hanuman flying back and narrating story to Rama.
  14. Rama and Ravana fight (even here boys were given bow to shoot Ravana and pretend they are Rama)
  15. Returning to Ayodhya and Rama’s coronation.
The other scenes from Rama’s birth were narrated to the audience, giving  sufficient time to change to the puppeteers to change the scenes.
 
We did one show at 3pm and then another one at 6pm. But it was such a roaring success that, literally we were dragged to do the third one around 7pm and even after that people came sitting and asking when is the next show. By 7.30 we had to close the shop.
 
Those who came really liked it and commented that they had not seen this before.

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