After 2 years of interval, Celebrate India’s Victorian Festival of Diwali returned to Fed Square, its iconic home on Saturday 29th October with with Pink Diwali. Thousands thronged to the venue of the annual Victorian Diwali festival, despite the inclement weather. The program went ahead with the performers and the audience – standing in rain (some in rain ponchos provided by the organizers), while rain seemed to play hide and seek at times.
The Celebrate Indian Inc. team was not going to give in. The indefatigable team led by Mr Arun Sharma and Mrs Jaya Sharma took care of the job at hand and everyone was taken care of.
And this year, the team came back with a much bigger and greater program of celebrating Diwali at Fed Square with its PINK Diwali theme to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The guests gracing the occasion included Minister for Multicultural Affairs Victoria Ms Ros Spence who also represented the Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Education Ms Natalie Hutchins, the Opposition leader Matthew Guy, former Premier of Victoria Ted Bailliew, Neil Angus MP, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Vivienne Nguyen, Deputy Mayor of Melbourne Cr Nick Reece and India’s Consul General in Melbourne Dr Sushil Kumar.
In his address to the audience, Mr Arun Sharma, Celebrate India Inc. chair – while thanking his untiring team and loyal supporters of the festival over the years, made a surprise announcement of stepping down.
“After seventeen long years AS Director of the festival, I think it is time for someone else from the team to take charge”, he told the audience.
No, he and his wife Mrs Jaya Sharma will not be allowed to go anywhere by the team. The MC was quick to announce that and make it very clear to the outgoing chairperson. The team just loves them. And they (Mr and Mrs Sharma) will be there to guide the new director and his/her team carry on the baton and take the festival to new heights.
All guests and the team adorned pink turbans to represent the PINK theme and it was a lovely sight to see.
All the guests spoke very highly of Mr and Mrs Sharma and the direction they provided over the years which as a result landed the festival of Diwali – pretty much officially – on Melbourne’s map (now some years ago).
Mr Sharma – interrupting Cr Reece made the call for Diwali to be declared a public holiday. Cr Reece said it was not his call to declare it a ‘public holiday for Victoria’ but said in Melbourne (city) it will be a holiday.
When the Opposition leader got on his feet after Minister Spence, he quipped (to Ms Spence and the audience) – Ros and I are going to have a chat after this and whoever wins the next election, that (Diwali) holiday might have to happen.
Melbourne was declared to be the best Indian city in the world outside India.
The festival took the audience on a magical journey of India through the traditional and contemporary cultural feast- Yoga, Meditation; beats of drums; drama; breathtaking classical, folk and contemporary Dance performances; there will be workshops of Indian dancing for all and craft for children; there will be games, Henna painting, bustling Bazaar and authentic Indian Street food.
Although not one person seemed to feel bad, the fireworks on the Yarra was cancelled due to the weather.
The program included:
A special photographic exhibition’ INDIA THROUGH THE LENS in the Atrium at Fed Square, MUSIC & DANCE Performances at the BURKE STREET MALL, ‘Geeton ki shaam Diwali ke naam’ a concert at The EDGE, Fed Square and Screening of the film Guru at Fed Square.
Earlier, on 25 October, the Festival was launched on a river cruise at the Yarra river.
Celebrate India Inc. has been a major force in bridging the social and cultural gap between the mainstream society and the local Indian communities and promoting the understanding of values Indian communities have added to the multicultural fabric of our state and country.
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