IAASA Diwali celebrations at Adelaide Convention Centre
Indian Australian Association of South Australia (IAASA), the peak body of Indians settled in South Australia, proudly celebrated Diwali with more than 300 guests at the exclusive Adelaide Convention Centre, situated in the Festival Precinct in the heart of Adelaide city.
This was the second year in a row for IAASA hosting Diwali festivities at this prestigious venue, based on the huge success and positive reviews of guests last year. People love the chic ambience that the precinct and its neighbourhood provide.
Surrounded by the heritage-listed historic compounds of SA Parliament House, Adelaide Casino, and Adelaide Central Train station and with the prominent heritage precinct of Governor’s House and Adelaide University just a stone’s throw away, the location of the venue seemed to add to the enjoyment of the celebration.
The place even got an Indian makeover which was an icing on the cake! The entrance hall was decorated with rangoli patterns portraying colourful diyas (lamps) and flowers, all enhancing the feel of Diwali. The presence of mighty Ganesha statue, with a tall floor lamp and many small lighted diyas all turned the entrance into a mini-temple, with fragrance, colours and lights, in the true spirit of Diwali.
The walls were bathed in intricate artistic patterns in Indian tricolour, saffron, white and green, produced by modern laser lighting effects. This feature was a first at IAASA’s celebrations, along with another first with the lighting the exterior northern face of the Convention Centre with colourful rows of lights.
The huge Centre, with a capacity of 320, nearly full to its brim, was bursting with politicians, members of the community and invited guests, keen to celebrate being an integral part of Australia’s proudly multicultural society.
Nearly half of the guests were of non-Indian origin, and they were having just as much fun, (if not more!) on the dance floor, partying to Bollywood numbers.
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Zoe Bettison represented Premier Jay Weatherill, while other distinguished guests included Leader of the Opposition Steven Marshall; Russell Wortley, President of the Legislative Council; Dana Wortley MP; David Pisoni, Shadow Education Minister; Jing Lee MLC; Vincent Tarzia; and Chair of the South Australian Multicultural & Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC) Grace Portolesi.
South Australian Liberal Leader Steven Marshall spoke at the Gala Dinner. “Diwali is one of my favourite celebrations of the year because it’s full of positive energy,” he said. It’s a time when families and friends can come together and celebrate life.”
Labor and Liberal representatives both vied for time on stage to convince the audience of their 100 per cent commitment to the Indian community in Australia, proving that any time or occasion can become a workplace for pollies and it was no surprise that they all seemed to be relishing the work!
The politicians were also invited to light the floor lamp before being formally allowed entry in the hall after walking on a red carpet while being showered with fragrant floral petals. Mixing Indian culture and tradition with western, creating shades of multicultural innovations, the young girls in traditional attire lining the carpet did a fabulous job!
The traditional was also aptly represented through classical dances such as the opening number by Fusion Beats. This was followed by numbers by the youth of Yuva Mantra dance group, an Odissi-style performance by a group from Temple of Fine Arts, and a solo Bharatnatyam performance danced with great aplomb by Dr Geetha Sadagopalan.
The thumping beat was eventually provided by many modern and fusion Bollywood style dance groups such as Mudra Dance Academy, Belly Dance Arabesque and Saloni’s Group. Overall, it was a great combination of quality performances which gave the event its class and poise.
Another first on the occasion was the awarding of Best-dressed man, woman, girl and boy with gifts, with the winners chosen by the politicians as judged. They were really put to hard work in this one with so many well-dressed people around.
Although there are always some regrets when organising events on such a large scale, some points to ponder, mistakes made and going forward to learn from them, this promises to create something better the next time around.
The only regret I personally had was not to see myself on telly as some friends who watched the Channel 7 News that evening informed me the event was covered by respected media personality Tim Noonan, who presented the day’s weather from the Convention Centre with a brief report of the Diwali preparations underway.
The event was a perfect demonstration of so many multicultural souls coming together. The positive feedback received from the guests confirmed that we need more sharing of cultures to create a common, shared culture for all humanity – especially when racism and terrorism are trying to raise their ugly heads and take over the world elsewhere.
Imposing initiatives of the President of IAASA Adi Reddy Yara, excellent coordination and teamwork of the Executive Committee, top-quality performances by local artists
and an exceptional choice of venue all added to a superb display. This outstanding event not only entertained multicultural guests but also promoted cross-cultural awareness and sharing of cultures. I’m waiting for the next Diwali already!