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IAASA celebrates grand Golden Jubilee
This year the Indian Australian Association of South Australia began its landmark 50th year since its inception. The occasion was celebrated with great pomp and show during Mela 2016 on 19 March.
It all began way back in 1967 when a lonely migrant sought out the company of his countrymen. Three Indian families, including that of Prof. Jagan Mazumdar AM, came together as India Club.
Today, the club has turned into a prestigious institution.
The pioneer members did a great job in seeking a vision to establish IAASA as a means to not only look after the migrant Indian community, but also to reach out to mainstream Australia, to forge a strong presence, integrate into the mainstream and to endeavour to create a stronger, well-adjusted multicultural community.
It’s not by chance that the fledgling India Club of the ‘60s was named the Indian Australian Association, it was by design. It should have both India and Australia in the name, members felt, so that it was expressed explicitly that this association was created by Indian migrants to integrate into the mainstream. They aimed to become Australians while maintaining their roots and showcasing the culture to other Australian communities in SA, to bring themselves into the fold rather than stay isolated.
It was a wonderful thought indeed, with far-reaching impact. The resulting outcome is evident in the creation of a strong, well-adjusted Indian community in SA, which embraces Australian values with the same fervour as their native ideals, and is looked upon with respect. Today, we have a 25,000-strong community who call South Australia home. IAASA welcomes new migrants, helps them settle, find jobs and integrate into society, along with providing a strong platform to support small businesses and help seniors.
It also takes pride and honour in supporting and acting as a peak body to all the regional Indian groups that have sprung up in recent years.
Mela is an annual event of IAASA, being celebrated since 1992. A brainchild of Dr Jagdish Saraf, it celebrates Indian festivals with local Australians. Within a couple of years, it grew from hundreds to thousands in attendance and bigger venues needed to be found constantly. Hence from a humble dwelling of Fullarton Park and Ridge Park in Myrtle Bank in the ‘90s, it moved to Bonython Park and then to Elders Park in the CBD where it enjoyed a great jump in numbers of local and ethnic participants equally.
This year, attendance was at an all-time high at the under-cover venue of Adelaide Showgrounds. More than 7000 people filtered in throughout the day with family and friends. It started at 11am with a simple pooja performed by the Chief Guest B. Vanlalvawna, the Consul General, who travelled along with Deputy Consul General to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
More than 25 invited guests from Parliament, including the Governor of SA Hieu Van Le, Multicultural Minister Zoe Bettison and Leader of the Opposition Steven Marshall, were present at the evening ceremony. They witnessed a procession of Dhol Tasha performers of the popular Marathi Sarvjanik Ganeshotsav group.
In a great gesture of support, the Multicultural Minister announced a grant of $30,000 over three consecutive years.
It was truly a community binding event where over 250 participants, of Indian and non-Indian origin, took part in the various cultural activities. A plethora of cultural events kept the crowds entertained all day.
More than twenty food stalls were put up by commercial as well as non-commercial enthusiasts.
A novel and innovative initiative was presented by organising yoga workshops which proved to be very popular with the Australians. Dedicated activities for kids and seniors were also organised.
A souvenir was also published to commemorate the Golden Jubilee.
A variety of stalls were put up by Indian and non-Indian small businesses engaged in selling clothes, jewellery, sports goods, the ever-competitive mobile phone and similar services. This year, there was a surge in stalls who provided specialised services such as money transfer and physiotherapy.
The festivities continued late in the evening with the young and restless taking over the stage with a DJ.
The Indian Mela Committee and volunteers of IAASA deserve praise and admiration for organsing the biggest ever and the most successful Mela in the history of IAASA.
Here’s hoping this event will be even bigger and better in the future!
Photographs: Stephen Watts Photography