Indian seniors participate in the 54th annual NSW Seniors Week
RAIN’s Dr Sudha Natarajan presents awards at Seniors Achievement Awards ceremony
RAIN seniors For RAIN seniors and their Ambassador Dr Sudha Natarajan, it has been a busy week. Several activities marked the 2012 NSW Seniors Week, beginning with the Achievement Awards ceremony on March 18. 59 NSW seniors and organizations were recognised through these awards for their exceptional contribution to the community, under various categories from community services and volunteering to business and environmental awareness, among others. Almost 400 people gathered to commemorate the award-winners, with Andrew Constance, MP and Minister for Ageing and Disability Services also attending the ceremony. Dr Natarajan and Aunty Beryl Van-Oplo presented the Community Service awards to over 30 deserving recipients. The ceremony was followed by riveting performances by Tabitha Omaji and band, and an aerial performance by Lil Tulloch.
On March 19-20, seniors across NSW were treated to the Premier’s Seniors Week Gala Concert held free of cost at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Australia’s foremost singers, dancers, musicians and other entertainers put on a sterling performance over two concerts on both days, in an event planned and organised by the ADHC – Ageing, Disability and Home Care, a division of the Department of Family and Community Service. Dr Natarajan, in her capacity as Ambassador attended the event and subsequent party to meet the performers on March 19, while nearly fifteen RAIN seniors attended the performance on March 20. It was a wonderful show and much enjoyed by the seniors.
On March 22, in an event close to their hearts, fifteen membes of the RAIN Geetanjali Choir put on a performance at the Senior Citizens Centre at Hurstville, treating the audience to songs in Hindi and Gujarati, among others. The Chinese Group Choir also performed, with both sets of singers offering a melodious treat to the hundred-odd attendees, many of who enthusiastically joined in the singing. Dr Meena Srinivasan’s speech was in keeping with their theme of the event titled, Peace and Harmony, which was attended by seniors of different communities, both mainstream Australian and ethnic groups. The event was supported by the Hurstville and Kogarah councils, and the Indian food served was enjoyed by all present.
On March 29, RAIN seniors attended an event at the Indian Aroma restaurant in Cronulla, which was supported by Sutherland Shire and Gymea Community Aid and Information Services, in support of NSW Seniors Week. RAIN members, headed by R S Loga and Kumud Powar from Hurstville joined approximately 50 seniors in viewing a powerpoint presentation, followed by entertainment through a dance by the Abhinaya Performance Group, and lunch.
As part of the ‘Get Healthy’ information and coaching services campaign, RAIN seniors recently enjoyed the first of a series of talks on healthy living by accredited practicing dietician Priya Iyer. Lasting for about an hour and followed by a Q&A session, the talk was organised by the Multicultural Communication Services Health Department of the NSW government, with 30 lectures scheduled over the next three months aimed at promoting healthy eating habits and the benefits of exercise for seniors. Ten sessions of yoga will also be conducted every Saturday by Mythili Chandrashekaran. The Helpline number is 130086258, for those seeking more information on healthy living.
Proving their culinary prowess
The Indian Welfare Association (IWA) organised a cooking competition for seniors at the Dundas Community Centre on March 24, as part of their dedication and encouragement to vegetarianism. Participants were allowed to enlist help from younger members, but their recipes had to be original, nutritional and would promoting good health. They were given 45 minutes in which to cook and serve the dish. The judges for the competition focussed on time taken to prepare the dish, its colour, taste, presentation and acceptance in a restaurant environment.
There were four entries in the ‘Mains’ category and two entries in the ‘Dessert’ category. Participating seniors came out with flying colours in the presence of a wide-eyed audience of nearly a hundred, who appreciated the nimble-footed work which went into the culinary creations. It would be true to say that the talents of the seniors were a revelation to younger members of the community. Winners in the ‘Mains’ category were Mrs Saroja Nagarajan who won the first prize for her creation Vegetarian Rice Dumplings, and Mrs Bhuvana Venkatraman who came second with Kadaai Black Eyed Beans. The winner in the ‘Dessert’ section was Mr Cheenu Srinivasan for Kulfi on the go”.
All the participants received consolation prizes as the judges decided that it was a high quality competition with many interesting dishes and they commended the efforts which had gone into preparing the items.
Vegetarian cuisine is rediscovering itself and the world is increasingly becoming alive to its virtues. Several factors have contributed to this – fruits and vegetables are far cheaper to grow when compared with meat production. They use less of the world’s available supply of fresh water; besides, their nutritional value and disease prevention qualities make them a much sought after option for the health-conscious. High protein in many vegetables and fruit make it entirely possible for most of us to live without animal protein.
Sri Om Care seniors gala ends with a heavy heart
For Sri Om Care’s annual Seniors Week events, a festival of Indian cultural dances and shows was held this year at Auburn Town Hall. Seniors from the group’s many centres across Sydney were shuttled to the venue by bus for the day. They enjoyed morning tea and lunch, gentle exercises and some cultural presentations about which there was much excitement.
Team leader Shweta Sharma told Indian Link, “We had been preparing a dance number with the ladies for two months. It came together quite well, so the ladies decided at the last minute they would like to do a second one too. They decided on a gidda, and practiced for only one day. Guess what, it turned out to be a hit!”
The girls were all in the 60-75 age group.
The men opted for solo singing, with Harbans Singh, Gurinder Singh and MP Singh all strutting their stuff.
Everybody’s favourite poet Vimla Luthra presented her latest offering, a poem on the stages of life to which all could relate very well.
Another women’s group, a choir presented a group song they had spent much time practicing, together with live piano accompaniment.
“It was fun to see everybody become so absorbed in their items over the weeks,” Shweta observed. They were like a bunch of schoolkids, with all that enthusiasm, discussing the minutest details such as what they would wear! It gave them much pleasure to be up on stage, and it gave us so much satisfaction to see them all caught up in the moment.”
Sumptuous food was donated from various Indian community businesses and charity organisations.
Mr Jayraman, President of Sri Om Care Group introduced the dignitaries, who included the Mayor of Auburn, Ronney Oueik, State Member for Auburn Barbara Perry and representatives from local Indian organisations.
The next day however, the members were all saddened to hear of the loss of one of their valued members, Ishwaran Iyer. While the special day was being enjoyed by all, Ishwaran was rushed to hospital where ha passed away soon after. The 52-year old had endeared himself to all in the group as one of the coordinators – he helped Sri Om Care organisers with regular meetings, picking up seniors and taking special care of those who needed extra attention. His selflessness will be remembered by all, and he will be much missed at Sri Om’s events.
Rajni Anand Luthra
Lessons and laughter for seniors and senioritas
If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old. – James A. Garfield
As part of the NSW Seniors Week celebrations from March 18-25, the Hornsby Indian Seniors Group (ISG) met at the Vedanta House in Ashfield on March 22 for a fun-filled day of computer learning sessions and laughter yoga. The event was made possible thanks to a grant of $500 received by the Group from the Department of Family and Community Services – Ageing, Disability & Home Care, and the enthusiastic organisational skills of Dave Passi, Secretary of the Group.
The programme began with a bhajan by Shobha Ingleshwar, organiser of OmGet2togethers, who was joined by Aruna Chandrala, past President of UIA and current President of the newly formed Global Women’s Network (GWN). Amarinder Bajwa, President of UIA and Lily Barooah, President of ISG gave brief speeches to welcome members.
Mahesh Trivedi, who works as Systems Administrator at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), created a simple programme for the seniors, to teach them the basics of negotiating email, social media like the Facebook and general information on the internet. Tips on how to organise contacts through groups, attach pictures and be aware of phishing and scam emails were well received. Mr Trivedi is also the founder of eSatsang Australia, and the seniors were as interested in learning computers from him, as in discussing spirituality. One of the members said that the best tip they took away that day was to know that the computer would not break if they press the wrong key! This gave them the courage to try out new things and overcome their fear of computers. Another member said that this was a useful tool to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren, and that they would love to learn more. Mr Trivedi feels that by creating simple websites about their lives and philosophies, the seniors could tell their stories as well as preserve their knowledge and memories for generations to come.
The two computer sessions were alternated by two laughter yoga sessions conducted by Shari Coventry. These sessions of laughter and gentle exercises began with hesitant trepidation on the part of the seniors, but they were soon participating with gay abandon and peals of laughter filled the room. Post lunch, the group gathered for an impromptu antakshari session, very much proving Bernard Shaw words that, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”.
It is tough growing old, but it is often all the more difficult for Indian seniors finding their way in a new country, moving here to be with their children. They also support their children’s young families when required. The need to provide these seniors with support should not be overlooked. Seniors groups like the ISG provide a platform for mutual support and make their lives enjoyable. The ISG in Hornsby was formed in 2006 as an informal and private group. As the Indian population in Sydney grew, the group likewise grew and in 2009 they became an incorporated organisation. This gives them access to funding and the opportunity to organise many activities in addition to their monthly meetings at the Epping library. Currently the Hornsby ISG has about 65 members. The local council has been providing good support in organising bus trips to different places and guest speakers on diverse topics like health, disability and government services for the aged. The group’s monthly meetings provide a forum for learning, interaction, celebration of festivals and participation in activities such as singing and dancing.
The aim of Seniors Week was to celebrate their presence in our lives. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that, “Beautiful young people were accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art”. This statement could not have been more truly realised than meeting and interacting with the seniors at the event. As Mark Twain put it, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”.