Deepavali 2013 to blast off earlier this year

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Hindu Council of Australia promises dance, music, fireworks, and a rangoli competition to draw in crowds from across communities

Every year, the Hindu Council of Australia’s Deepavali Fair — an effort to keep Indian traditions alive thousands of thousands of miles away from home — draws large crowds from across the country.

The Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) is basically an umbrella organisation for Hindu community organisations in Australia. It is a non-profit body involved in a number of community initiatives such as the Deepavali Fair, which celebrates the festival of lights.

The HCA has been organising the Deepavali Fair in Sydney since 1999 in a large public space accessible to the community at large. The Fair has grown into one of the most important cultural festivals in Sydney.
This year, HCA is organising two events as a part of its Deepavali Fair. The first event will be held at Martin Place, Sydney, on 17 October from 11 am to 7 pm, while the other major event will be held at Athletic Centre Sydney Olympic Park on 26 October from noon to 10 pm.

Raman Bhalla, programme director for the event, says: “As there was tremendous response last year to this new initiative of celebrating Deepavali in the heart of city at Martin Place, this year we have added more features to it to make it more exciting. This year, celebrations will go on till late evening unlike last year, when the celebrations ended at 2 pm.”

Raman says that HCA chose to hold the celebrations on a working day as it will give people from different cultural backgrounds and working in the city a chance to participate in the celebrations. “Martin Place is in fact a good venue to showcase Indian culture as it is humming with people all through the day,” says Raman.

With its main aim of showcasing different regional Indian cultures, Raman says there will be different food stalls too.

“The main event in Olympic Park will go on till late at night. This year the theme of the event is ‘Youth and Multiculturalism’. Like previous years, this year too, there will be music, dance and drama all though the night. For children, young people and senior citizens, the HCA has organised special activities,” adds Raman.

Other highlights include the Western Union dance competition, rangoli competition, burning of Ravana’s effigy, and fireworks.

Blasting off

Western Union dance competition – Over the years, this competition has attracted Sydney’s most talented dance groups and has been one of the key events of the festival.

This year will be no different with several teams competing to win the coveted title and the very generous cash prizes once again sponsored by Western Union. First prize will be $1000, 2nd prize $750 and third prize $500.

Rangoli competition – This year for the very first time a Rangoli competition is being organised as part of the festival.

Rangoli is a traditional and ancient art form that has been passed down from one generation to another. The colourful and bright patterns are made at the entrance or in courtyards on auspicious days such as Deepavali to decorate the homes and bring good luck to the household by welcoming deities.
There will be attractive prizes on offer.

Raavan and fireworks– The Deepavali Fair is a unique event in Australia where a large effigy of Raavan is burnt thus showcasing the victory of good over evil. It brings back memories of traditional celebrations of Dussherra. The fireworks of fair are an added attraction for all thus celebrating Deepavali with the same spirits as it is celebrated back in India.

Dance tracks — A very special attraction this year would be the pulsating and action-packed 90 minute performance “Nach Le – a dance journey” presented by the Shiamak (Australia) dance team. The Shiamak dance team has entertained audiences worldwide and have performed alongside top Bollywood stars. This performance would consist of three acts — Festivals of India; East meets West, showing how Bollywood has embraced dance forms from across the globe; and Bollywood goes global.

Biggest open dance floor – This would be the festival finale after the burning of the Ravan effigy and the spectacular fireworks. The dance floor has been added for the younger members at the festival.

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