Melbourne, October 6: Raksha Bandhan – an event to strengthen ties between brothers and sisters; has taken on a whole new meaning in Australian context.

Australia based Vishva Hindu Parishad’s Victoria chapter (HOTA) organised a successful Raksha Bandhan celebration with a festival dinner night at Encore Events Centre – lending its platform to promote strong family values, female empowerment and the celebration of universal fellowship.

The Raksha Bandhan themed event, last month, was the first public HOTA VIC forum event attended by over 50 partners and supporting organisations. Over 250 community leaders and representatives were also present.

As the forum host for 2016, the HOTA night was hosted by youth presenters, Ramya Annavarapu and Sameer Betanabhatla featuring a series of performances by local artists.

After the Deepa Prajwalan – lamp lighting by female community leaders, introductory prayers by Madhuri Vasa opened the evening.

In her formal welcome speech, VHP Victoria President Smt Geeta Devi explained the purpose of Raksha Bandhan in the Australian cultural context.

Calling for women empowerment, she said: “With over 85,000 Hindus in Victoria alone, we strive to nurture the cultural identity. Raksha Bandhan makes us to relook at the actual significance of the festivals and apply it to the contemporary society around us.”

A major focus of the evening was the “Tejaswini – Woman of Substance” award – presented to Smt Rohini Kappadath, Chair of the Multicultural Ministerial Business Advisory Council and the 2015 Telstra Victorian Business Woman awardee.

A national advocate for Australia’s engagement with the Asian region, Smt Rohini shared her personal initiatives in carrying forward the Raksha Bandhan custom.

Special Guest of the evening, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner, Dr. Mimmi Claudiene Ngyum Chi Watts, spoke of her own ancestral names and how proud she was of her African heritage.

She also emphasized on the role of migrants in the betterment of Australia as well as the role of all of the cultural organizations present in the room.

Later Smt Mahitha Cherukuwada gave a run through of the Raksha Bandhan rituals as Dr. Ngyum Chi Watts, Cr Gautam Gupta, Ms. Rosa Rossi of Victoria Police and Ms. Pushp Sidhu participated in the ceremony with Hindu community youth performing the Raksha Bandhan tying ceremony.

HOTA 2016 celebrated Raksha Bandhan with Hindu rituals
HOTA 2016 celebrated Raksha Bandhan with Hindu rituals

Bringing the focus back to the organizer of the evening, HOTA VIC forum secretary Sri Naga Bhushan Sharma Betanabhatla presented a brief overview of HOTA VIC forum and thanked all the organisations that took the responsibility for various champion roles.

Later, the evening flowed into cultural performances and technically brilliant martial arts presentations. The demonstration of the martial art of KalariPayattu – an ancient art form of Kerala was led by Ms Ramona Lalita Yagnik of Melbourne based, Kalari Healing.

Smt Meghala Bhat performed Bharata Natyam portraying the female form of Shakti – empowered women and well known singer Sriram Iye presented a medley – finale’ of the evening.

Vijeth Shetty of India Australia Exchange Forum accepted the HOTA baton as the host of 2017 HOTA Vic forum.

Smt Krishna Sharma, Secretary VHP Victoria thanked all volunteers for the cultural night. HOTA Vic forum was formed in 2015 at the 4th Australian National Hindu Conference, in order to facilitate interconnectivity among the various local Hindu organisations.

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