The city of Adelaide lights up this Diwali!
Sparkles, spangles and lights fantastic are the sights of Diwali. Friendship, laughter, rich food and even richer sweets are the joys of Diwali. It’s not surprising to see children glowing with awe, the elderly mellowing for the festivities and young people thinking sweet things about each other.
Adelaide Tamil Association Deepavali
Each community prefers to celebrate the season in keeping with their traditions. The Adelaide Tamil Association (ATA), with its fast-growing membership, decided to hold a Deepavali cultural program at the Woodville Town Hall in Adelaide.
If Deepavali is a favourite festival for children then, surely, ATA’s program was one for the little ones. The program was dominated by children performing folk, classical and semi-classical dances. Interestingly, in keeping with the spirit of lights, one dancer’s costume incorporated a belt of large lights on her waist. Although some of the program looked a bit under-done, there is clearly huge and varied artistic talent in the Tamil community. The folk dance depicting leopards was outstanding.
Recently appointed President of ATA, Mrs Kayalvizhi Rajeskar, a solicitor by profession, gave a talk about the empowerment of women. ATA is applying for a large grant for Stronger Families and Stronger Communities. Rajeskar’s aim is to enhance the participation of Tamil women in the social, economic and community life of South Australia.
The occasion was marked by presenting Tamil school children with awards in recognition of their achievements. From the audience reaction to the length of the show, it seemed that quantity did not equate to quality so it felt very pleasant to eventually go out in the open air to watch the kiddies with their sparklers. The children had also made clay lamps (vilakku) which were lit in the evening light. This was followed by a generous meal which wound up the celebrations.
Hindu Council of Australia Diwali Festival
In a brilliant and innovative move, the organisers of the Hindu Council Festival decided to include the Bhutanese, Bangladeshi and Nepali communities to join in these Diwali celebrations sponsored by Indian Link.
With a single stroke, this gesture of inclusiveness gave the event a richer texture and brought together people who stay apart but have much in common. Different features, national costumes and beautiful colourful dresses also made the day one huge fashion parade.
The event was held on Klemzig Reserve and attractively set-up with stalls in a horse-shoe along with a central, large covered seating area and stage. As one would expect, there were food stalls including Nepalese food and specialist ice-creams. Other stalls included one selling Bhutanese and Nepali items. Of interest to ladies were the colourful clothes stalls and Gehna, selling fashion jewellery run by the charming ladies, Sonya and Meenu.
The whole show was managed by the enigmatic MCs Neeraj and Sunaina who kept up their thoroughly professional duet in nice humour and were able to hold the audience together on a hot Adelaide day.
There were just so many lovely dances and a few songs including Maula mere lele meri jaan. The bhangra, so lively, was performed in a variety of ways. The Nepali, Bhutanese and Bangladeshi folk dances were so different and charming. And Bollywood dancing for the young and old – all accompanied by blaring music – had everyone’s eyes glued to the stage. There was also a samosa eating competition whose after-effects will no doubt be felt by the contestants for a few days yet.
What does Diwali mean to you? I asked some of the festival goers. “We light some diyas, celebrate with lots of food, colours, some crackers…the kids get some gifts from us,” said Parminder.
Another comment, this time from a Sikh lady, “We celebrate Diwali because of the release of Guru Hargobindji from prison.” Most other comments centred around a celebration by getting together with family and friends, lighting candles, doing puja and having sweets.
Diwali may well be a story of fact turned to myth turned to religion. For me it is a romantic story. A story of good triumphing over evil. And just imagine lamps being lit at night for mile upon mile to guide Ram and his followers back to Ayodhya. This is what we celebrate.