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Sawan Spring Festival 2015 was a multicultural potpourri of arts, music and dance. PREETI DAGA reports
With less than 24 hours to go, to the Sawan Spring Festival 2015, I received an unexpected phone call. On the relaxed Saturday afternoon the organisers of the Festival rang seeking my availability and interest in being the emcee for the multicultural event. Their emcee had taken ill and was unable to do the show.
I could hear a voice full of anticipation and trepidation at the other end of the line wondering what my response might be. Well, it was rather simple, of course I said YES!
How could I refuse the opportunity to be part of a unique multicultural event, which had more than 50 local artists from diverse communities all sharing their love for arts, music and dance? I simply couldn’t resist.
As an avid performer and admirer of performing arts, it was an incredible opportunity for me to meet some of the most talented local artists ranging in age from five to 50 years old.
I wanted to take the audience on a sensory journey full of wonder, love and pure delight. I am thankful to the team at Sawan Spring Festival for thinking of me and having the confidence to bring me in at the 11th hour.
Sawan Spring Festival was a celebration of three important things – the arrival of a new season and with it the celebration of art, music and dance; Australia’s multicultural spirit; and spreading the messages of unity and harmony on the occasion of World Peace Day (20 September). And it was exactly that.
The event was a real melting pot of diverse cultural performances by students from the School of Indian Dance and Music of Australia (SIMDA) among other talented performers. Routines ranged from solo music acts to duets, group dance performances to classical Indian and contemporary Bollywood music, a rendition of Marylyn Monroe’s ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ to amazing Middle Eastern tunes.
The successful event was well-supported and those in attendance included Mayor of Monash, Paul Klisaris, Steve Dimopoulos MP representing Minister Robin Scott, Monash Councillor Geoff Lakes, Anjan Bhaumik from the Indian Consulate, and Jasvinder Sidhu, Multicultural Advisor to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
From the traditional folk Gidda dance of Punjab, to those busting out Bhangra and Garba; from the electrifying steps of Mandy Dance Group, to the graceful Belly dancing of the Oriental Queens; from the melodious tunes of a Turkish singer Hossein Abbasi to Karly Jewell’s rock band. This event showcased a patchwork of cultures and talent on stage with one thing in common – their passion for performing arts and promoting the message of love.
One of the highlights of the event was a multicultural fashion show conceptualised by Yogita Bhardwaj of Yabs Group which saw the participation by women of varying ages from diverse cultures including Australian, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Malaysian, Arabian, all strutting their stuff to the tunes of a live rock band.
I was honoured to be invited to represent India as part of this unique fashion show, which was truly a celebration of inner beauty, culture and womanhood.
A clear audience favourite was a dance act performed by Hiral and Innesa, winners of the 2015 Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition, to the Bollywood song ‘Badi mushkil baba badi mushkil’ by the famous Madhuri Dixit. Their moves and expressions left the audience wanting for more.
The event also saw the participation by the winners of the 2014 Indian Australian Idol – Lakshmi Ramswamy and Adarsh Nair – singing a Bollywood duet.
The list of splendid performances goes on, but one that inspired the entire audience to put their dancing shoes on was the live performance by an African band Zito Ballo, formed by refugees. It captured the message of unity and togetherness perfectly. It was a delight to watch as they filled the venue with good vibes and got everybody up and moving.
Such large events are not possible without the active support of the sponsors, organisers, volunteers, media and the community. Held at the Clayton Town Hall and attended by over 500 people, the festival team headed by the Event Director, Nawal Moudgil from SIMDA, and supported by Faezeh Parkes, the Multicultural Director, should be very proud of their efforts.
To my mind, one of the Sufi dance performers, Sheena Noor, beautifully encapsulated the spirit of the show: “Sawan 2015 was a beautiful culturally diverse event. It was great to be part of a show that represented so many different expressions of music and dance. Because of the kindness of all the volunteers involved and their tireless efforts to bring this event into reality, it was a very successful show.
My only hope is that Sawan 2016 can be even bigger, representing even more cultures on a grander stage as I would like Melbourne to see how diverse it really is.”