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The Basant (Spring) Festival organised by So Change Inc. a great success
A Basant festival on the sub-continent would be all about kite flying, gaana-bajaana, khaana-peena, and general matargashti.
Well, all of these were to be found at Perth’s own Basant Festival held in mid-October. The magnificent grounds of Curtin University Stadium might as well have been a maidan in India!
As a secular festival, there are no religious overtones to this celebration, and the event is marked in India as well as Pakistan as a heralding of the spring season. As we wish winter goodbye, it’s time to get out and enjoy the outdoors in the pleasant breeze. Kite flying, anyone?
The trademark kites of the season rose up in the Perth skies at regular intervals, as if keeping watch on the goings-on below. Some of course, seduced by the pleasant breeze, wanted to escape and fly free, even as their keepers toiled to keep them anchored. And some of them, buoying confidently up there, urged their keepers to invite others for a kite-fight or two.
Oh, the childhood memories that came back…!
Meanwhile, down below, the mood was just as light and filled with fun. More than 100 stalls glazed in the sun, enticing people with wares of all kind. At least 40 of them were food-based.
Every age group had their own activities to relate to. Shop-happy ladies picked up bargains including Punjabi and Pakistani suits, kurtis, dazzling Punjabi juttis and vibrant jewellery. Those with kids first took in the rides and inflatable games – no doubt as a clever ploy to exhaust them completely so they could hit the shopping themselves as the little ones settled in to eat. Older kids preferred the drill-a-nail-into-wood and hand-in-wax activities.
On stage, the naach gaana began in earnest as the multicultural dance fiesta took off, guided by the beautiful Sonu as MC. A number of admirable performances by groups and solo rockers kept keen audiences bound to the stage.
Crooners Nukul Tewari, Surjoprovo Mazhar and Shaouli Shahid took to the microphone with confidence and impressed. Taibees, Sinam Aizad and Expedition band were equally amazing.
Within the dance segment, the stand-outs were Greek style dance by Tabetha, Indonesian dance by Salendong-Astit Olszowy, and vigourous Chinese lion dance by Kenn Wu and group. Turkish dance by Tabetha, Jungle gym dance by Gillian, Mauritian and African dances thrilled as well.
Sunita Gupta and the Jhoom group who performed Bhangra managed to rope in the dignitaries to shake a leg or two: Mike Nahan (Member for Riverton), Margaret Quirk (Member for Girrawheen), Senator Rachel Stewart and Peter Abetz (Member for Southen River) found their political divides all but washed out by the dhol! Their addresses and notes of welcome to the gathered multicultural crowd were much appreciated.
Towards the end, the lucky draw was called to pick a winner who took home an LCD TV.
Visitors Harsharan and Deepu Panesar told Indian Link they relished the yummy Pakistani kababs and the Kutchi dabelis, and later enjoyed the kite flying with their kids.
Jean and Nagina took a break from work at their biomedical lab to try out the multi cuisine stalls.
Harneet Arora and Navroop said they found useful the Tupperware products and homemade delicacies.
The mammoth event was organised by Perth-based outfit So Change Inc. (SCI), which aims to empower migrant and refugee communities as they settle into their new home Australia.
President Mohammed Suleman and Project Manager Omair Choudhary must surely feel thrilled at the interest they successfully generated with their Basant Festival.
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