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FICQ Diwali celebrates the festive season with mela magic!
It was a starry night and the heart of Brisbane lit up in welcome, anticipating all the stars that were to descend on it, when the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland (FICQ) organised the fifth edition of its Diwali Mela at King George Square in October as a prelude to the festive season.
The main attraction of the event was the glittering cultural show which was spectacularly colourful and vibrant. The potpourri of events included Punjabi folk dances by Gurdeep Singh and team, Indian classical dances and a lot of foot tapping Bollywood numbers by Asha Shah and her group followed by Andrea and her troupe from Dance Masala. A fusion of Indian and Persian dance styles had the audience cheering and applauding. Combining that with the aroma from the food stalls and there was a definite festive ambience that usually precedes Diwali.
There were also official ceremonies and, most importantly, at the beginning of the event Aboriginal elder Aunty Delmae Barton welcomed participants in the Acknowledgement of Country. The lighting of the lamp was followed by a welcome address by the President of FICQ, Prof Prasad Yarlagadda. The Premier of Queensland Anastacia Palaszczuk was conferred with the title of Honorary Indian of the Year. Also in attendance were the Multicultural Affairs Minister Shannon Fentiman and the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tarnya Smith. The Indian High Commissioner Navdeep Suri said in his message, “Such occasions play an extremely important role in sustaining our great cultural heritage and in ensuring a continued connection between younger members of our community and their unique cultural inheritance.”
Diwali is an ancient festival which is celebrated throughout India in a special way and has often been called the ‘Christmas of India’. That is probably due to the fact that it signifies victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair. It is also a festival that spreads the message of cultural tolerance and cultural pluralism. Gifts are exchanged and houses are decorated with candles and earthen lamps called diyas. Diwali is also a time when Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth is worshipped in order to welcome prosperity to the household.
Fireworks and firecrackers light up the night sky, but in the recent years the usage of firecrackers has come down substantially as people have become more aware of the environmental pollution that the firecrackers cause. Diwali is also a time for major shopping such as clothes, home appliances, gold and jewellery.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs to mark different historical events, stories or myths. In Hinduism, Diwali is often thought to commemorate the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Another school of thought correlates the return of Pandavas after their exile. The significance of Lakshmi Puja in Diwali is related to the mythological story of how Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband consort on the day Diwali falls in the Hindu calendar.
Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs as well. However, the reason for celebration is that on this day Guru Hargobind freed himself from the prison of Gwalior Fort during the times of the Mughal King Jahangir and he arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Diwali has special significance in Jainism as well. According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankars of this era, attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri on 15 October 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika. Therefore, Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of remembering Mahavira.
In the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Diwali is celebrated to mark the slaying of the demon Narakasura by Krishna. In Eastern India, Kali is revered as a slayer of evil.
Diwali as a festival is celebrated by many different ethnic cultures for different reasons but the common theme is victory of good over the evil in all the communities.
As Brisbane’s King George Square was lit up beautifully, it provided a panoramic backdrop to the festivities which went late into the night. The President of FICQ Prof Prasad Yarlagadda spoke with Indian Link and said, “The purpose of organising this function is to bring together all the associations and people in Brisbane and also to inculcate in the younger generation some awareness of the cultural traditions.”
He said FICQ is very careful in choosing the performers and the variety of food stalls and crafts stalls at the mela each year in order to reflect the multicultural nature of India.
Prof Yarlagadda conveyed a Happy Diwali to all our readers, “Enjoy this fabulous festival of lights!”