Melbourne: Like every year, Melbourne is gearing up for the biggest Diwali festival at Federation Square with an interesting line up of events culmination with fireworks on October 19. But more importantly, Celebrate India, the organisation at the helm of this iconic festival is hoping the festival of lights will continue up to Christmas in celebration of multiculturalism and acknowledgement of ever religion and festivals that shape Australia’s social fabric.
Leading up to Diwali, the organisation has already completed two of the three promotional events on Facebook – the Unique Talent Quest and Dance for Diwali contests with focus on the younger generation to carry on the culture.
“We were overwhelmed by the interests and community participation and we also received 40 videos for the dance competition,” said Arun Sharma, founder of Celebrate India, adding, “Among the many prizes is a Singapore Airlines sponsoring return ticket to India.”
The third competition left is Light for Diwali, another unique project. Led by co-founder Jaya Sharma, volunteers and participation from university students and the wider community, the aim of this project is to decorate concrete blocks around Federation Square and around the city with traditional Indian folk art.
“The project is half-way through and already making a mark with many Melburnians joining in and thanking us at the same time for taking this initiative and making them so beautiful,” said Sharma, adding, “This is in keeping with the cross-cultural theme of the festival.”
Also, for the first time AFL House will be lit up for Diwali.
Celebrate India has also taken other initiatives such as Diwali bazar and sales to create a Diwali buzz by tying up with businesses. For instance, Melbourne Star is giving 40 per cent discount during Diwali, India Food will run promotional sales and DFO Moorabbin will also offer sales and partake in decorating and lighting up. Other restaurants will also join these drive and offer sweets to customers as a gesture of good will, said Sharma.
The festival which begins on October 14 will culminate on October 19 at Federation Square with many surprises in store. One of the highlights will be a performance by the Abhyas, a renowned Kathak dance group from India. The timeless magic of Shankar-Jaikishan’s music will also be another festival drawcard.
With its charity partner Beyond Blue this year, Celebrate India which is entering its 14th year, hopes to evoke a breathtaking blue moment and movement on the big day of October 19.
Diwali festival last year had the highest turnouts among community festivals, said a proud Sharma, who is clear about one thing: making the event cross cultural and extend the celebration up to Christmas to spread the message of love, light and oneness.