We are very pleased to know that NSW Coalition Govt led by The Hon Barry O’Farrell has decided to host Diwali celebration in the NSW Parliament this year. We are thrilled with it and look forward to participating and contributing to this celebration.
It is great that the NSW Govt is hosting the function and thus giving an official status to Diwali celebration. It is a big plus for Indian Australian community in NSW. More details to follow.
Premier, The Hon Barry O’Farrell, and Minister for Citizenship and Communities, The Hon Victor Dominello, deserve a big thank you from Indian community. This is indeed late by a few years, but “now” is better than “never”. NSW Govt hosts celebrations for many other communities. This is the first for Indian Australian community in NSW.
Diwali celebration in NSW Parliament is separate from The Diwali Fair, which is being organised by Hindu Council at Parramatta Stadium on 30th October, 2011. Apart from this, there would many more Diwali celebrations in Sydney.
I want to outline what Diwali is about and why Diwali deserved the honour of being hosted by NSW Govt. This is for those who might not be aware of the significance of Diwali.
Diwali is the biggest festival of India that celebrates the victory of good over the evil. It symbolizes the age-old culture of India which teaches mankind to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Diwali, the festival of lights even today in this modern world teaches us to uphold the true values of life.
“Diwali” is the easy-to-pronounce form of Deepavali or Deepawali. In Sanskrit “Deepavali” is the marriage of two Sanskrit words- Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. Indeed celebrating the row of lights forms one of Diwali’s main attraction.
While Diwali has a religious significance for an estimated 1 billion Hindus world wide, Diwali is clearly much more than that. It is a truly Indian festival which is celebrated by Indians throughout the world in a joyous mood, with zeal and enthusiasm. Diyas [oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in Ghee or vegetable oils] and candles are burnt in every home. People clean their homes, sweets are shared and people wish each other well.
It heralds the beginning of new year as per the Hindu calendar. Diwali is normally celebrated in October or November.
Diwali is also an important event for Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.
Diwali is truly an Indian festival, not just a Hindu festival!
In NSW, Diwali celebration takes the highest spot on the Indian community Calender.
It is estimated that there are over 150 thousand people of Indian heritage in NSW. It can be safely said that Most of them celebrate Diwali each year in one or the other form. The number is growing each year as more skilled migrants and students arrive from India and make NSW their home.
With multiculturalism recognised as part of the Australian way of life and as a valued asset of New South Wales, it is highly commendable that the Government of NSW recognised this major festival by hosting an official annual celebration at NSW Parliament for Diwali – the festival of light – symbolising and renewing the vows of the people of NSW to uphold the true values of life.
Indian Australian community believe in integration and participation of Indian Australians in the general Australian community. We are strong believers and supporters of multiculturalism and multicultural Australia.
We are thrilled with the new status of Diwali celebration and applauds NSW Govt for their decision to host Diwali celebration in the NSW Parliament. We are committed to working with the NSW government through the appropriate ministry, minister and agency to organise a grand Diwali celebration this year and in future.
10 Reasons to Celebrate Diwali.
The Festival of Lights is for All
Why do we celebrate Diwali? It’s not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it’s a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter.
There are 10 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.
1. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.
2. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.
3. Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
4. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.
5. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.
6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.
7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.
8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.
9. Special day for Buddhism: Newar Buddhists celebrate it because Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism on this day.
10. The Pope’s Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a ‘tilak’ marked on his forehead and his speech was bristled with references to the festival of light.
[With input and contribution from Tony Colaco, President, Goan Overseas Association of NSW].
UPDATE: Community Relations Commission [CRC] is the body on behalf of NSW Govt to organise/conduct Deepavali celebration in NSW Parliament on 10th Nov, 2011.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/1st Oct, 2011