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Going through the What’s On pages in Indian Link, it is exciting to note the range of activities available for the community, especially with Diwali celebrations in full flow.
A few years ago, most of these activities were focused in a few hotspots in Sydney and Melbourne, but these have now spread to the suburbs and even to other major cities. In recent times, satellite cities around our state capitals are also bringing in the Diwali light and festivities.
One of the most exciting recent initiatives to spread the Diwali message has been a 16-page supplement in 130,000 copies of the West Australian newspaper, organised by the Indian Society of Western Australia (ISWA) in Perth. This supplement reaches out to the mainstream Australian community to educate and inform all of not only Diwali, but other things Indian at this festive time of year.
The mainstream Diwali event at Melbourne’s Federation Square organised by Celebrate India, attracted 57,000 people last year. Numbers are expected to increase this year by at least 20 per cent.
The Hindu Council of Australia in Sydney attracted a crowd of 30,000 at their annual Diwali Mela last year, and numbers should be up this year.
Another interesting development is that suburbs with significant Indian population have the blessings of their local councils in celebrating local Diwali events. Strathfield and The Ponds are two Sydney suburbs in which this is fast becoming a tradition; Wyndham in Melbourne is another example.
What is it about Diwali which makes it such a focal point for the community? The religious background to Diwali is a simple story, the significance of spreading light and dispelling darkness resonating with all. (This takes place every four years at the state elections, the NSW Premier joked at a recent Diwali event in Sydney). More so, for the Indian Australian community, Diwali is celebrated across all language and geographical community groups as the social scene bursts at the seams with festive events. For the religiously minded, the mandirs and gurudwaras make sure the reason for the season is brought home to all.
Even mainstream organisations have now taken up the celebration of Diwali in their own way, by acknowledging not only the contributions of their Indian-origin staff, but also their clients from the Indian sub-continent. Westpac and Commonwealth Bank Diwali parties are highly sought after events, now National Australia Bank has also shown its desire to engage with their clients at this time of cultural significance. The Diwali greeting signs at a few suburban Coles supermarkets are a welcome sight, and probably got them a few brownie points in the grocery wars with Woolworths and Aldi!
Now the challenge for the Indian Australian community is that if the mainstream is keen to know more about the festival of Diwali, then why not walk into your place of work – be it a school or a factory floor or a corporate office – on Diwali day with a large box of mithai for your colleagues. Share some sweet eats and enlighten your work colleagues about the significance of Diwali, as a time of appreciating the light in our own lives.
As we welcome in the Hindu New Year, a very happy Diwali to you and yours from all of us at Indian Link. May it be a year of good health and happiness, and may both Saraswati and Lakshmi shine their light on us all.