As the cold harsh winters recede in the north of India early in the calendar year and spring begins to bloom, the agrarian communities gather to celebrate. The opening up of the seasons is marked as Basant (spring) festival.
In Australia of course, the season comes round much later in the year, but that hasn’t stopped the migrant Indian community from celebrating it in exactly the same way. And why not – spring affects the mood in positive ways, whichever country you live in, right?!
It is a simple celebration of being in the outdoors and enjoying the longer days, and of course the Indian elements of song and dance and food.
All of these elements came together in the recent Livelighter Perth Basant Festival on Curtin University grounds, brought to us by the Salman Foundation and So Change Inc.
Plenty of colour yes, thanks to the colorful kurtis, dashing pathani suits, Patiala shahi paggs, muktsari juttis, bindis and bangles. The bright blue skies were also dotted with the colour of kites, a great spring tradition in India.
Plenty of food too, as everyone marked their ‘cheat’ day: steaming bhaturas and mouth-watering gulab jamuns, hey, you don’t do it every day!
The carefully planned entertainment was ‘beyond India’: Polish dance from Kurpi region, Sri Lankan combination dance of Uda Rata and Pahatha Rata, Bharathnatyam, Brazillian Semba dance, Amoura belly dancers, Malwai gidha, Vietnamese hip hop. Giddha, peacock dance were darling performances.
The fun and frolic aside, Muhammad Salman of Salman Foundation encouraged all to think a little about the less fortunate. A raffle event raised funds for his very worthy Feeding Australia initiative. In this project, a food truck helps feed the homeless in Northbridge on a weekly basis. Some $10,000 worth of prizes were donated towards raffle tickets for this cause.
Footfall was around the 27,000 mark, festival organisers reported later. The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Mark McGowan both sent their good wishes for the festival and MLA Tony Krsticevic made a mention of it in Parliament, acknowledging So Change Inc’s cultural and social justice initiatives.