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Vaisakhi enlivens Parliament House

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The festival spirit came alive in true Punjabi style, says DOLLY SINGH MIRANDA

Young bhangra dancers

“Come to Sydney and see the world!” said Mr Harjit Sethi, Vice Consul (PS) to the Consul General of India in Sydney.

He was speaking on the occasion of the seventh annual Vaisakhi celebrations held at Parliament House in Sydney, truly symbolizing diversity and acceptance as it marked the coming together of two cultures in perfect harmony.

It was breathtaking to see beautiful Sikh prayers being offered to initiate the ceremony at the backdrop of the stately Parliament House. And even more wonderful to see Ministers and Members of the Parliament bow their heads in reverence to these prayers.

The evening started with Shabad Kirtan – religious hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, lead by Dibjot Singh of the Sikh North Shore Youth Choir. Dr Moninder Singh, Coordinator of the Punjabi Council, gave the welcome address.

This was followed by the Pride of Punjabi Awards presented to Hon Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, First MP for the NZ Parliament; Mr Kulbir Singh Suri, acclaimed Punjabi writer; Mr Bawa Singh Jagdev, responsible for building the Gurudwara in Austral, NSW; and Mr Jagmandeep Singh, a budding sportsman.

Hon. Minister Victor Dominello

Hon Minister Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenships and Communities spoke about the importance of multiculturalism, with a clear message on celebrating diversity.

The Hon John Robertson, Leader of the Opposition stated that it was a real honour to be part of the celebrations. He mentioned the immense contributions by the Indian community to the Australian economy.

Also attending the celebrations were Shelly Hancock, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the Hon Adrian Piccoli, Minister for Education.

Vaisakhi is the most important of festivals for Sikhs, and denotes the beginning of the harvest season, as well as the creation of ‘Order of Khalsa’ by Guru Gobind Singhji in 1699. Celebrations in northern India are marked by colourful costumes worn by farmers and dancing to the beat of drums. However, the dancing in Parliament House could have been set in any village in Punjab, with a group of children in colourful costumes gyrating enthusiastically to bhangra!

A grand evening, which marked the growing relationship and synergy between Australia and India. A big pat on the back for the Punjabi Council lead by Dr Moninder Singh, for achieving this milestone!

As a Sikh married to Catholic Indian, this celebration was particularly significant for me and my family, as we strive to inculcate the best of our traditional and religious heritage in our marriage and for our children.

My 4 year old son and 2.5 year old daughter also enjoyed a glimpse into the richness of this vibrant festival.

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