Diwali in Canberra

The Indian Festival of Lights 

9 November 2015

Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, is the most widely celebrated festival of the people from the Indian subcontinent and across the whole world. Diwali means 'rows of lights', and it is the festival symbolising victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Historically, Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom after an absence of 14 years.

To celebrate the event, Lord Rama's people put out little lanterns to illuminate his homecoming. Now, in recognition of this special time of the year, homes are decorated with candles, clay lamps, fairy lights and rangolis—intricate handmade artwork designs in colourful powder. The Festival of Lights is a joyful occasion of hospitality, community and generosity, marked with an exchange of decorative and enticing Indian sweets.

This Wednesday, the local Indian communities in my electorate will be bringing the Diwali festivities to our civic centre. As a part of the Diwali Mela in the City, workers, shoppers and passers-by in Garema Place will be treated to a selection of free traditional Indian sweets. The event is being organised in the city during lunchtime to share the festivities, as it is done in India. The Festival of Lights has evolved from its mythic origins to symbolise the reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship, religious tolerance, spreading the word of peace and harmony and, above all, celebration of the simple joys of life.

I look forward to joining the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and the Indian High Commissioner, the Hon. Navdeep Suri, to commemorate this generous and inclusive celebration. Wednesday's festivities will be divided into three sections, each designated by a theme and a colour—saffron, white and green—reflecting the colours of the Indian flag. Garema Place will be filled with dance, music, food and lights. I am delighted to have this opportunity to extend an invitation of the Indian community in Canberra to everyone in the electorate of Fraser: come and join us on Wednesday for this spectacular Indian community festivity in Garema Place.

I would like to pay special tribute to all those Indian cultural and community organisations that are supporting and participating in the festival. It is a great local example of the unity and diversity of the Indian people. Thank you in particular to Lakshman Prasad, the president of the ACT Diwali Mela Incorporated. And thank you to all the people who give up so much of their time to the organisations that make up the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT: Amardeep Singh, Dr Krishna Nadimpalli, ChittiBabu Divi, Niranjan Agarwal, Sumandeep Dhillon, Debashish Raha, Jayanti Gupta, Sree Prasad, Lakhan Sharma, Madhumita Iyengar, Nishi Puri, Mahesh Scaria, Sujith Mysore, Ashok Jain and Prakash Mehta. Thank you all for your work and strengthening Canberra's diversity and inclusion, and happy Diwali Mela.


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