Melbourne, October 10: Having launched the spirit and festivities with the announcement of their competitions – Dance for Diwali, Sing for Diwali and Indian Essay 2016 back in August, the countdown has begun for the biggest Diwali bonanza and celebrations in the city of Melbourne’s Fed Square for a full week of celebrating India.

The festival of lights and the celebrations will span from October 17 and conclude on October 22, with its culminating event at the Federation Square on October 22.

“We are proud to announce that during this period CBD and Melbourne Airport will immerse in the rich vibrant colors of India”, Arun Sharma, Festival Co-Ordinator and chair of Celebrate India, told Bharat Times.

“We are very grateful to METRO – for providing multilingual promotions of Diwali on their video screens throughout their (METRO) loop – commencing October 17.

“Their partnership is invaluable to our community… millions of travellers will be spell-bound with Diwali promos…”

METRO is also promoting Diwali to its social media base of 200,000 plus.

This year, the six day event is being launched at the AFL house – “a first for any event of our community and we are so honoured for having been given the opportunity by the AFL”, Mr Sharma said.

“They have more than 2 million fans and they will be promoting Diwali to their fan base.

“It is going to be bigger and better… We are raising the bar even higher this time and people are going to be mesmerised with various components of this year’s celebrations”, he said.

The organisers are hoping to attract more than 60,000 people to gather at Fed Square on the day. This is group’s 11th year of celebrating Diwali.

“Community participation is growing.

“We are particularly pleased with our competitions introduced to grow that engagement…” Mr Sharma said.

The group has very fondly and successfully engaged Year 5 and 6 Victorian students in the annual Indian Essay Competition, appropriately designed for local children to explore inter-cultural experiences of the multicultural society.

‘Sing for Diwali’ and ‘Dance for Diwali’ competitions are engaging youngsters who will carry the Indian cultural baton into the future.

On September 27, finalists of ‘Sing for Diwali’ competition were announced:

  • 12 Years and Under Category are: Malavika Harish & Kaavya Kumaran
  • 13 Years and Over Category are: Chondryma Chakrobortti & Bharat Uniyal
  • Winner of People’s Choice Category: Parvathy Praveen Nair.
  • In Top 3: Minakshi Malhotra & Amar Sholapurkar

These finalists and the People’s Choice winner will get to perform at Fed Square for Victorian Festival of Diwali 2016. The winners in each competition will be awarded on October 22, at Fed Square Diwali celebrations.

Fed Square Diwali 2016 will host many of the regular events like film shows at Fed Square, sponsored by Mind Blowing films; various dance and cultural performances in the CBDl; Diwali carriage and illumination of Iconic Victorian buildings; the breathtaking cultural program; and fireworks to culminate on Saturday, 22 October at Federation Square.

For the first time, an hour long presentation – a cultural braid-work representing different parts of India will highlight the success of multicultural India.

“A celebration of unity in diversity”, Mr Sharma said this segment would be performed between 3.30 and 6pm on the day.

But another new segment – world’s biggest sing-a-long with the World Singing Foundation joining Celebrate India to perform this year’s theme song – “Chale Chalo – the famous number from film Lagaan; will perhaps be the most watched segment of the celebrations.

The event will be a seven continent simulcast – broadcast live from Fed Square with scientists singing from Antarctica to singers from Shankar Mahadevan’s Academy in Mumbai and Bangalore.

“This will a historic event… making the Australian Indian community really proud”, Mr Sharma said while giving due credit to Fed Square for “providing us with the technology to make such mammoth event possible”.

Tricolour confetti splash at the gathering - Fed Square Diwali 2015
Tricolour confetti splash at the gathering – Fed Square Diwali 2015

This free, family event is sponsored by City of Melbourne, Melbourne Airport, Government of India, Victorian government, Fed Square, Air India, Metro, MB Films, White Robbon, AFL, City West Water and Indya Foods.

Considering the thought of Fed Square Diwali having outgrown its famous venue, Mr Sharma said that the effort is to get in more mainstream Australians witness and understand Diwali – “the passer-by crowd”.

“Last year, someone contacted us and told how he had to wait six traffic lights for ‘infinite’ time to get to Fed Square but ‘I loved every minute of it’, he had added…

“It is a logistical nightmare but it perhaps well worth it… people love to witness the fireworks on the Yarra and it is a sight invaluable…”.

“Melbourne, come and be part of this annual Diwali extravaganza and celebration of India”, Mr Sharma said.

  • Federation Square, Melbourne CBD
  • 17th – 22nd October 2016

Shalini Singh

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