Reading Time: 3 minutes
The annual Australia Day parade sees enthusiastic Indian community participation
The national flags were flying, the barbecues sizzling, and the mood was festive as people celebrated Australia’s national holiday, with full cooperation from the generally unpredictable Melbourne weather.
The thousands that flocked to the Melbourne CBD to witness the annual Australia Day parade were offered a vibrant, colourful spectacle making it well worth the trip. The diverse multicultural community in Australia was represented through many groups sporting eye-catching traditional outfits.
The Australian Defence forces, State Emergency services, fire authorities, sporting groups and musicians joined the community as they marched down the length of Swanston Street, past the iconic Flinders Street station and Federation Square, to congregate near Kings Domain at St. Kilda Road.
The Australian flag was hoisted outside Melbourne Town Hall and Government House was opened to the public for the day. The Royal Australian Roulettes also did a flyover as part of the festivities.
Australia Day is the anniversary of the establishment of the first European Settlement at Port Jackson in 1788. In modern times, this designated public holiday provides an opportunity to reflect on the numerous achievements, cultural diversity, history and potential future of Australia and its people.
Not everyone, however, was into the flag waving, as hundreds of protestors, led by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, gathered at the Parliament House condemning Australia Day. The invasion Day rally saw many protestors chanting against ‘genocide’ and the oppression of Aboriginal people.
Earlier in the day, the Indian flag was hoisted at the Indian Consulate in St. Kilda to mark the Republic Day of India and Consul General of India in Melbourne Manika Jain addressed a large gathering of people.
The Indian community representation was also strong at the Australia Day parade as various regional groups added colour and zeal to the proceedings in their traditional attire. Dancing to upbeat music, they were highly visible in their saris and turbans.
Not everyone, however, seemed pleased with their experience. Tanvi Mor, who went to participate in the parade, was left wondering if this was a day of unity or division. “I was surprised to see five different groups representing India as most other nationalities marched under one umbrella body,” said Tanvi. “I feel if we could all march under one tricolour and still represent the diversity of India through our beautiful regional costumes we could make a far better and stronger statement.”
According to community leader Vasan Srinivasan, attempts have been made to unify the various groups in the past, but has not been very successful. “This year, again, the FIAV group was represented by various communities under the one banner, however we were instructed to limit the numbers to 40 in total and to ensure everyone was registered and accounted for,” he said.
In the past few years, the FIAV contingent were accompanied by energetic performers from the Shiamak Dance group attracting much attention from the crowd. “We unfortunately did not have the Bollywood dancers this year to entertain the crowd as they were all away on holidays,” said Vasan. “We still had a large group of representatives walking with us that day and it was a great experience to be able to represent India in multicultural Australia,” he said.
The festivities continued through the day and the evening concluded with some spectacular fireworks that lit up the Docklands skyline.