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Every Sunday, Mala Mehta’s Indo Australian Bal Bharathi Vidyalaya (IABBV), commonly called Mala Aunty’s Hindi School, comes alive with young people of various ages learning Hindi.
IABBV, which started in 1987, brings together a passionate group of volunteer teachers as they explain the various nuances of the Hindi language to the many students. Be it through books or plays or even popular Bollywood movies, Thornleigh Public School is the place to be for Hindi language lovers on Sunday mornings.
Hindi Diwas is an annual literary day celebrated on 14 September. It was on this day in 1949 that India’s Constituent Assembly adopted the language as the official language of the country. Today it has grown to become the second most spoken language in the world. In Australia, it is one of the fastest growing languages today.
A day-long Hindi mela was organised by IABBV Hindi School to mark the event – a celebration which included Hindi students K-12 strutting their stuff, and a community section involving the age-old game of Anatkshari.
“It was a great day for us to come together as a family and celebrate Hindi,” Mala Mehta told Indian Link. “It is so important that we keep our language alive even after moving to Australia as it is the language which gives us our identity and binds us together.”
Some 300 people joined in the festivities. The highlight of the day was the little children who took the efforts to learn their pieces of poetry.
“As they stood on stage and recited their lines, my heart burst with pride!” Mala revealed later.
Special guests on the day including Sunjay Sudhir, Consul General of India and his wife Vandana, Phillip Ruddock MP, Damien Tudehope, MP representing the Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka, Diane Tudehope, Geoff Lee MP and Prof Peter Friedlander, ANU and Kathryn Methvyn, Principal, Parramatta North Public School.
The community section Anatkshari turned out to be a pretty good way of spending a relaxed afternoon, while at the same time propagating the cultural heritage and values of the Hindi language. In this musical game, a contestant sings the first verse of a (usually Bollywood) movie song that begins with the Hindustani consonant on which the previous contestant’s song selection ended.
Though the mood was light on this occasion at Thornleigh, make no mistake, there was pride at stake as the contestants split in four teams (aptly named Bhairavi, Pahari, Bhopali and Yaman) vied for the trophies.
What was also praiseworthy about the day was the Pink Sari desk which raised awareness about breast cancer especially among the multicultural community. Representatives from Multicultural Health Services were at hand to explain and discuss these issues and a special platform was given to Shantha Vishwanathan to explain these services.
From that perfect amalgamation of celebrating all things Hindi and also creating awareness of social and medical issues relating to all of us, IABBV made sure, like always, that it was giving back to the community.