By Paul McKenzie
The Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) provided a luxury bus for the Sydney Indian and Hindu community to take a pleasant Monday afternoon journey down to Canberra, for Diwali Celebrations in Parliament House Canberra. Commenced with the Thal Gaaan, devotional song, offering food to God. Then the MC for the night, Kanti Jinna (Vice Chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia) called on the guest dignitaries for the lighting of the ceremonial lamp to mark the significance of Deepavali (or Diwali) recognition of faith groups. Deepavali is the festival of lights, marks good over evilness, peace, harmony and goodwill to all people kind. The Diwali celebrations in the Great Hall was in great form and display.
Started some 15 years ago, when the Father of the House, The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP, was immigration minister in the Howard Government. Seeing the Diwali celebration at the NSW Parliament House, he urged the then Prime Minister, John Howard, for Parliament House Canberra to do the same. He spoke how the Parliament House Canberra Diwali celebrations “is a fine example how we can celebrate diversity and making a contribution to modern day multicultural Australia with its, pride, successes and achievement.
Representing the Prime Minister, The Hon. Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, spoke how “Diwali with the display of food, represents a common basic human element that Australia and the India share together, agriculture that brings people in food and livelihoods together”. Federal opposition leader, The Hon. Bill Shorten MP, spoke also with passion, saying “Any Australia residential street would welcome an Indian family to light up the street with Diwali lights and celebrations. They would welcome an Indian spices store in their community’s commercial centre to complement the local business trade and they would welcome an Indian family into their schools for sporting/academic successes”.
Over 500 packed the Great Hall for the Parliament House Canberra Diwali celebrations, with speeches also from Indian High Commissioner Mr Navdeep Suri, Hindu Council of Australia Chairman Professor Nihal Agar, Leader of the Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, Shadow Multicultural Minister The Hon, Michelle Rowland MP, Senator Lisa Singh, Leah Briers from the Womens Hindu Council and Senator Zed Seselja, who represents the ACT. The Parliament House Canberra Diwali celebrations was busy, long and rich during the night with many performances, including from the Sadhanalaya Kathak Dance School Canberra, Abhinaya Dance Academy Canberra, Geetanjali Dance School Sydney, Canberra Bollywood Dancing School, Rhythm of Gujarat Sydney and Garba Group – Gujarati Samaj of ACT.
A vote of thanks was given for the member of parliament who came, especially at a busy time, with parliament sitting. To the diplomats, community leaders and leaders of faith groups, who came and joined in the Parliament House Canberra Diwali celebrations. Also present at the Parliament House Canberra Diwali celebrations is Gurdeep Singh from Hornsby Council, and Sue Advani from the United Indian Association (UIA). The Sydney bus trip was led by Professor Nihal Agar, Hindu Council of Australia Chairman, with Sydney local Indian community identities included Aruna Chandrala, Pallavi Sinha, Renga Rajan, Yateen Gupta, Anagan Babu Janardhanan and Leah Briers from the Womens Hindu Council.