Following a successful Diwali celebration in 2016, Member of Parliament Kelly O’Dwyer hosted another Diwali event in October 2017. With members from the Higgins electorate invited to attend, O’Dwyer, the Federal Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, encouraged the Indian community to join her in the festivities.
“I feel blessed because in Higgins there are approximately 6,150 people who identify with their Indian ancestry. There are a lot of people who are either born in India or identify with their Indian ancestry because their parents, grandparents or great grandparents were born in India,” O’Dwyer explained. “Interestingly, approximately 1,500 residents in Higgins speak Hindi,” she added.
Political leaders in Australia are starting to host a variety of Diwali events. However, it is rare to find a politician host a cultural event on their own. “Instead of the Indian community inviting political leaders to Diwali, Kelly has taken action to host her own Diwali event and invite the community at large,” said Rampal Muthyala of AUMSAI Sansthan. “This truly shows her commitment to fostering stronger ties with the Indian community.”
Encouraging the Indian and Australian community to come together at a time that celebrates new beginnings, friendships and the hope for a better future showcases Australia’s vibrant multicultural initiatives. “I am pleased to see so many new faces at this event and it is a pleasure to host such an important festival in the Indian calendar,” O’Dwyer remarked.
More than 100 people from the community attended the celebration at Carnegie’s Packer Park Pavilion. The event included lighting of the traditional lamp and a religious puja. In addition, Nikita and Priya Kulkarni choreographed their own Bollywood dance to entertain the guests. With traditional Indian food and a hall filled with residents, the occasion presented the ideal opportunity to network and make new friends.
The guests were joined by community leaders including Consul General of India in Melbourne, Manika Jain. Jain commended O’Dwyer for hosting her second consecutive Diwali event and reminded the gathering how fortunate the local community is to have a federal politician in Australia who strives to recognise important cultural events.