Join us as we go party hopping this festive season
Sydney has been awash with Diwali parties since late October. Diwali may have passed, but even as we go to print, there are events still on for the rest of the month. While many private Diwali get-togethers are for family and friends, others are grand affairs with glitz and glamour to celebrate the festivity of the season.
The NSW Government weighed in with its Diwali celebrations at the Parliament House and then its blessings for the lighting of the Opera House with the colours of Diwali. Premier Mike Baird was on script with his knowledge of all things linked to Diwali. Even the newly appointed Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka learned quite well the difference between the terms ‘Diwali’ and ‘Deepavali’.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge decided to join the party with its own Diwali celebrations on the top of its summit. With the dancers harnessed to the Bridge railings, Diwali was ushered in about 134 metres above the Harbour.
Three of our big banks Westpac, NAB and Commonwealth Bank also showed their support for the Indian community with special Diwali functions for their clients.
Grace and elegance: Westpac Diwali
Diwali at Westpac has become an annual event and is held in the Parramatta area where the community is the fastest growing. This year again, creative as ever, Westpac took over the India Tourism Pavilion at Parramasala to bring their selected clients and well-wishers together for Diwali. With its low-cushioned seating, posters of India Tourism and the giant Taj Mahal replica in the centre, it indeed was a wonderful venue to usher in the Diwali season.
Speaking on the occasion, NSW State General Manager Westpac Retail, Jason Stephens spoke of the proud links that Westpac has with the Indian community in Australia.
“Our ties with India go back almost 200 years when in 1817, the Bank of NSW, now known as Westpac Bank was established by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. It is believed that he acquired his taste for banking during the time he spent in India before he become the Governor of the new colony in 1810.”
Ross Watts, Regional General Manager, Western Sydney also stressed the strong links with the community. “Westpac started working with the Indian community in 1997 in Liverpool and now we have over 65 branches serving the community,” he said. “We are proud of our multilingual bankers.”
He also spoke of how Westpac gives back to the community through their various sponsorships of Indian events.
With about 80 guests mingling with its senior management, the elegance and grace of the evening exemplified the spirit of Diwali as the bank promised to work harder and more closely with the Indian Australian community.
Diwali debut: NAB
For NAB this was the first-ever attempt to reach out to the Indian community and celebrate Diwali. The Saturday afternoon venue was Aki’s restaurant in Woolloomooloo. With over 100 guests and their families in attendance, it was an afternoon for the bankers to catch up with their clients, both existing and prospective. The expected Bollywood entertainment had a few passers-by stop and try a few steps themselves.
Sheer extravaganza: CBA Diwali
The grand affair this year was the Diwali party hosted by the Commonwealth Bank. For sheer extravaganza, this party was the place to be seen. The grand ballroom of one of Sydney’s premier hotels The Westin was filled with over 700 guests as the centre of Sydney came alive with the CBA Diwali function. With giant screens descending from the ceiling, the guests were treated to an evening of high energy Diwali celebrations.
Annette Pinder, Executive Manager for Migrant Financial Services, told the attendees of the strong emphasis CBA places on the multicultural diversity of Australia and how, at the bank, there is a strong emphasis to take care of all customers from different backgrounds.
“The bank’s mosaic program of multicultural diversity recognises that a culturally diverse work force will result in improved services for our customers,” she told the gathering.
Other than the formal part, with entertainment from the Shiamak Dawar group and state of the art catering by Manjit’s, it was a memorable evening of high energy fun. With the music pumping, the Westin Ballroom dance floor was alive with Bollywood music and revellers danced late into the night.
And a drumbeat for charity: Manjit’s Diwali Ball
Within the community, the Diwali Ball hosted by Manjit Gujral is the one that tops the list. Hosted at the Four Seasons Ballroom, guests are greeted with traditional gifts of necklaces for the women and silk handkerchiefs for the men as they enter. Giant ice carvings of the gods of the season adorn the entrance to the Ballroom.
This year, with over 200 guests in attendance, Manjit and his team were in their element as they had a team of entertainers from around the country to ensure a fun-filled night. MCs Preeti Thadani and Rashi Minocha coordinated the evening as they introduced the various acts of the evening. Hula hoop artist Angela Skinner showed off her amazing skills. The high-pulsating drum group Drum Beats Team Building activities transformed the evening as the audiences followed the lead rhythm beat for beat! With a drum for each participant, guests were led on an exhilarating rhythmic adventure. Within minutes energy levels were heightened as all discovered their rhythm. Before this, Ruchi Sanghi’s dancers enthralled with their graceful swirls and twirls.
The grand finale was the exhilarating performance from Soul Mystique, described as “the world’s slickest and most innovative magical dance transformation act”. This art of quick change costume transformation is a very specialised branch of magic that dates back as far as the 15th century. It is the art of changing costumes at lighting speed in front of an audience within seconds – leaving no trace of how, when, and where each set of clothes disappear each time. A mesmerising finale, it left many totally stunned.
And what would a function at Manjit’s be without the lavish food offerings. The menu prepared by son Varun, who has just launched the family’s latest venture, Manjit’s@The Wharf, at King St Wharf, was a wonderful presentation of fine Indian food. As is also tradition at Manjit’s Diwali, part of the evening is devoted to raising money for charity. Cara Care is a charity which provides innovative and unique group work programs for children who have been abused. With generous donations at the auctions and a large contribution from Manjit himself, the evening raised over $65,000 to help those caring for abused children.
A wonderful way to celebrate Diwali.