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The iconic Australian landmark celebrates the Hindu Festival of Lights with a BridgeClimb
A Bollywood-style dance on top of the Harbour Bridge?
No, surely not!
Well, yes, actually.
Diwali this year saw a wonderful first for BridgeClimb. In a special limited edition Climb, the organisation hosted a small band of Diwali revellers who were taken to the top of the coat-hanger to celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights.
A Hindu Council of Australia and BridgeClimb collaboration, it was the first ever Diwali on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
And so the iconic Sydney landmark joined its close friend the Sydney Opera House in marking an ancient Hindu tradition.
Charli Beale from BridgeClimb told Indian Link, “We’ve been wanting to connect with international events which we could organise on the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We thought about how to reach out to Indian events. Diwali came to mind and the more I thought about it, the more exciting the idea became.”
A traditional Indian dance on the top of the bridge with the Sydney Opera House in the background and the lights of the city illuminating the horizon – now that would be a Diwali! The idea was presented to management, who agreed instantly.
And so it came to pass, 48 hours before Diwali, Australia celebrated the Festival of Lights on top of the Bridge with a simple prayer, lighted dandiyas sparkling in the dusk, and five dancers swaying to traditional Bollywood tunes.
Of course, the dancers remained safely harnessed throughout their little recital 134 metres above ground!
Their little performance symbolised an invocation to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, and to Ganesh, the God of Good Beginnings, as a form of New Year greeting and a prayer for overall good fortune.
The traditional ceremony was planned for sunset so the best effect could be had. HCA invited 10 guests, along with photographers and videographers. The equipment as well had special harnesses.
Prof Nihal Agar, the Chairman off HCA, climbed the 1,332 steps with remarkable agility.
After an official welcome from the climb leader, Prof Agar thanked the organisers for this opportunity to celebrate the Festival of Lights atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Down below, it was almost as if our adopted city had heard Prof Agar’s call, as the lights began to come on and dispel the darkness.
As if to applaud, the five dancers from the Holiya Dance Group and Sydney Sanskrit School, erupted in joy. Wearing colourful traditional headwear contrasting beautifully with their grey BridgeClimb suits, they performed two numbers with the Sydney Opera House illuminated in the background.
Guests became a part of the ‘Festival of Light’ themselves, wearing special BridgeClimb vests fitted with flashing lights as they enjoyed the uninterrupted 360 degree view from the summit.
A first, this has to be one of the landmark moments for the Indian community in NSW.
“The unique combination of colourful Diwali celebrations combined with stunning views atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge is breathtaking, making it one of the best locations to celebrate this special time,” said Balesh Dhankhar, one of the Climbers representing Hindu Council on the occasion. “I am sure this will inspire a number of people to come and celebrate Diwali here next year.”
For those special few gathered up top, it was indeed a Diwali they will remember for many years to come.
Diwali now stands added to the list of BridgeClimb’s special occasion Climbs organised for local and international festivals and celebrations including Chinese New Year, Chinese Moon Festival, Valentine’s Day, Vivid Sydney and Mardi Gras Sydney.