Diwali Fair was a riot of colour, costumes, music, dance and fireworks
It took us all but a few days to prepare for Diwali, but the Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) spent months in planning Sydney’s biggest Indian community gathering, Deepavali Fair 2012.
Some 12,000 people came together to celebrate HCA’s Diwali, the Festival of Lights at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on November 4, including attendees from other communities. Senator Kate Lundy, Federal Sports and Multicultural Affairs Minister deserves a special mention here, as she was elegantly dressed in Indian attire to suit the occasion.
Other dignitaries were Victor Dominello (NSW State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Citizenship and Communities); John Robertson (NSW Opposition Leader); Ned Attie (Mayor, Auburn City Council); Craig Kelly (Federal MP); Lisa Singh (Federal MP and the first person of Indian origin to become a federal parliamentarian); Mataji from Sarda Vendata Mission Sydney; Swami Shivananda Shivacharya; singer Kamahl and many other Federal and State MPs.
The Diwali Fair is per se entertainment at its best, as the HCA has been benchmarking its celebration since 1999 with the same intensity and fervour as we do in India. The enjoyable milieu of the fair was the reason for excitement and delight for attendees, with over 85 stalls of fashion, media, craft, finance, property, henna and pure vegetarian Indian cuisine, amongst many others. A beautiful giant rangoli emphasising the peacock, the Indian national bird, also caught everyone’s eyes and admiration.
The event started at noon by invoking blessings of God with spiritual melodies by ISKON and Ramcharitmanas Institute. This was followed by the Australian Hindu Multicultural Association’s Bharat Milap drama which struck an emotional chord as they depicted scenes from Lord Rama’s return from exile.
After this gentle touch of spirituality, the day unfolded with a series of other performances. Connoisseurs of dance and drama united to perform at this spectacular event and the audience relished the melange of dance forms including bhangra, dhol, gidha, bharatnatyam, mohiniyattam, kurathy, katthak, garba, Nepalese, Chinese and Bollywood dance styles.
These performances were by popular dance groups from all over Sydney including The Mango Dance Academy, Nanhi Kaliyan, Punjabi Paniri Group, Strathfield North Bollywood Stars, Meenaxi’s Dance Group, Akriti’s Dance Group, Lotus Dance School, Dancing Divas, The Indian Dance School, Nrityalaya Dance School, Poornima Sharma, Thrayee School of Dance and Jhanak Dance Academy.
The Western Union Dance Competition is one of the main highlights of the fair, especially for the eagerly waiting nine teams participating. The winner of the competition was Rythmic Dance Group, dancing away with the cash prize of $1,000.
The Nepalese and Chinese Dance were also appreciated as they showcased multicultural Australia. Sydney Chinese Dance & Song Inc performed a traditional Chinese dance wearing traditional Hanfu outfits. The dance was about the rich and pretty province of XinJiang, also known as the ‘dance village’ or ‘Town of fruits’. They also performed Meng Gu, a Mongolian dance. Their breathtaking moves won applause from all.
Where there is dancing, there is also catwalking! A fashion parade showcasing Indian traditional outfits was organised as well.
For over five months the HCA team has been relentlessly working with over a hundred dedicated volunteers to present the fair with novel ideas to showcase Indian art, heritage and culture to the wider community in Australia. The team chair Prof Nihal Agar told Indian Link, “Like every year, the event was a grand success and we would like to thank all our sponsors, volunteers, performers, media partners and the support from the audience.”
The event concluded with a finale performance by Sidi Goma Dance Group who specially travelled from Gujarat to perform at the fair. The performance was breathtaking as they used drums, coconut shells and other props to mesmerize the crowd, dressed in traditional costume made of cane sticks, shells and headgear.
And what is Diwali without fireworks? One of the highlights of the HCA event, many people actually visit the fair in the evening so they can stay on for the fireworks. This time again, they were not disappointed, as the pyrotechnics lit up the night. All is well that ends well, they say, and so it was for the fair which concluded with the burning of the Ravana effigy, depicting the end of antagonism. The crowds rejoiced to see the evil king come down in a flash of flames – fro the Hindus, this signifies the purging of all negativity from our minds, and the cleansing of our selves by fire, to start the new year fresh and positive.
We hope you had a happy Diwali.