As a part of Deepavali celebration , NSW Premier Mike Baird hosted an event for the Indian community at NSW Parliament.
Victor Dominello,Minister for Citizenship and Communities joined the Premier to light a traditional diya, a ceremonial lamp, at the start of the event.
“Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus across the world and the lighting of the diya signifies the lifting of spiritual darkness and the renewal of life,” Baird said.
“We are fortunate to live in a multicultural society that encourages us to learn about each other’s customs and traditions, and partake in festivals such as Deepavali”.
“Tonight we celebrate our diversity and it’s a positive sign of our maturity that a festival, which would have been unknown to most of us even a couple decades ago, is now recognised by the NSW Parliament”.
“Deepavali is a joyous and colourful festival that has messages all of us can embrace. Tonight we mark the festival with music, food and dance from the Indian subcontinent”.
“It is another wonderful gift to the people of NSW, which immigrants have brought here and shared with us,” he said.
Dominello said Deepavali celebrations in NSW had flourished over the past decade with the number of residents from India and the sub-continent growing to over 200,000.
“Deepavali has been celebrated by Hindus and Indians of other faiths for centuries, so the way our young country has embraced and promoted this ancient festival is a matter of considerable pride”.
“The NSW Government signalled its respect for Deepavali by lighting up the sails of Sydney Opera House at the start of the festival last month, as well as NSW Parliament House, which remains lit until this evening”.
“Although Deepavali is now celebrated all over NSW and at a number of major festivals, an official celebration in the NSW Parliament is a major statement about how this State views diversity”.
“Members of parliament have joined with community leaders to celebrate the triumph of light over dark and good over evil – the universal message of the festival,” he said.
Sunjay Sudhir , Consulate General of India while speaking on the occasion appreciated the celebration and said , “Every year when the Parliament House is lit , it is a signal from the government and the law makers of the importance of the multiculturalism . I think in any democracy the Parliament is an embodiment of democratic values and when this event is held in Parliament and Premier along with ministers is present, it means so much for the Indian community.
“ Deepavali is the most celebrated festival for Indians and celebrations . This is some festival which is celebrated by entire Indian community cutting the lines of religion , languages, states and any other barrier”, said Sudhir.
“I think in a multicultural society like this, it is perhaps the only cross –cultural celebration . Deepavali is not only the festival of Hindus but Sikh and Jain community have their own religious facts associated with this day, ” added Sudhir.
“ This year the Diwali celebration was much special as the Opera house was lighted for the first time. Relations between India and Australia are already on an upswing with the visit of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to India and now we are all awaiting the visit of Indian Prime , Modi which will further help in strengthening the Indian –Australian ties”, added Sudhir .
Dr G K (Hari) Harinath , OAM , Chairman , Multicultural NSW while speaking on the occasion welcomed all the guests and said this festival has a special place in the lives of all the Indians.
The programme included the recitation of the Australian National Anthem by Maya Stempien , recitation of the Indian National Anthem by Ankita Sachdev and an array of cultural items .
Chidambaram R Suresh and Shibana Suresh from Samparpana School of Fine Arts and United Nepalese Arts and Entertainment amused the audience with their cultural items. Emanuel Lieberfreund and Abhijit Dan also entertained the audiences with their musical performances.
Devpaal Singh, Youth Advisory Board Member , Multicultural NSW presented the Youth address whereas Astha Singh on behalf of the Deepavali Advisory Committee presented the vote of thanks.
The programme concluded with light refreshment followed by give-away of sweet boxes.
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