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Adults and children alike enjoyed traditional games at the Hindi Niketan picnic
Pardes lage apna apna sa. This catch phrase for a TV ad for Haldiram’s Minute Khaana could well be applicable to all the efforts we make to celebrate Indian festivals and special events here in Australia. It stands for our ongoing commitment to adapt to our chosen home, yet retain the memories of our country of origin.
Similarly, the Hindi Niketan in Melbourne held a picnic recently to celebrate India’s Republic Day and Australia Day. The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), the Federation of Indian Associations in Victoria (FIAV) and Singh’s Gourmet Food were sponsors for the family-oriented event held in Jells Park.
The event commenced with Dr Sharad Gupta, President of Hindi Niketan extending a warm welcome to all the guests and hoisting the Indian and Australian flags. The guests joined him in singing the national anthems of both countries. A quiz program hosted by Atit and Sharad kept attendees guessing and interested.
Mr Nick Wakeling, State Member of Parliament and MP Member for Ferntree Gully; Mr Rakesh Kawra, Vice Consul of India in Melbourne; Mr Vasan Srinivasan, President FIAV; Mr Peter Frielander, Hindi Lecturer at La Trobe University; and Chaudhary Shamsher Singh were among the chief guests for the afternoon.
The formal part of the event was kicked off by a beautiful poetry written by Phool Chand Manvji and presented by Anil Sharma. The chief guests then briefly addressed the audience and congratulated Hindi Niketan for their ongoing commitment to the community. A sumptuous free lunch was served, soon after followed by sports and entertainment.
Post-lunch activities included tambola, musical chairs, chess championships, dodge-ball and athletics. No Indian outdoor event is complete without cricket so the bat and ball were seen out on the field too. This was followed by fun games like rumal pakad (another game from the memory bank of a childhood spent in India). A large number of people from diverse parts of Melbourne attended the picnic and enjoyed themselves in the company of their family and friends.