Spotlight on multiculturalism

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Seen the lights at Parliament House NSW? Meet Sonia Gandhi, the woman who worked with the government on their Deepavali project

She ran an Indian shop in Westmead, tried her hand as a party organiser, but it was only when she started Gandhi Creations, an event management company that focuses on multiculturalism, that Sonia Gandhi found her true calling.

“Gandhi Creations is a dynamic and creative company that brings to life exciting and professionally executed Bollywood events. Any event can be tailor-made. We can colour any event in tune with India’s vibrant culture, cuisine, exotic ethnic wear, music, entertainment and traditional hospitality – in short, everything exciting and authentic from the magical land of snake charmers, yoga and henna,” she says.

She adds that in the niche cross-cultural market space, her events spectrum includes trade shows, multicultural spectaculars, corporate and government events, product launches, awards nights and charity events. “We pride ourselves in delivering quality Indian entertainment, functions and theme nights throughout Australia,” she says.

In 2013, Gandhi Creations collaborated with the NSW Government and Community Relations Commission NSW, for a month-long celebration themed on multiculturalism. “We successfully produced and directed Multicultural NSW, part of the NSW Multicultural Advantage Action Plan 2012 – 2015, the Premier’s Harmony Dinner and the Premier’s Multicultural Media Awards,” says Sonia. “Now I am also working on the Deepavali project with the NSW parliament. We are lighting the Parliament house NSW from till 5 November, and that is in fact an achievement in itself as it is happening for the first time here,” she adds.

Having grown up in Dubai as well as India, Sonia came to Australia to do her bachelor’s in Commerce at the University of Western Sydney. “It was a big transition for me as I have always studied in girls schools with so many rules.

People were more open-minded here. Co-education was a new lesson for me. In the first few months I started going to various societies and met many likeminded people. The more I was hanging out with them, the more I was getting comfortable, but in University I used to feel disconnected. In the beginning, it was not at all easy for me and I used to feel quite uncomfortable, but I slowly began taking part in various activities, and that helped me settle in,” she says.

Sonia was elected as the representative for Council of Australian Post Graduate Association and worked there for two years, representing 36 Australian Universities across Australia.

Working alongside ex-senator Natasha Stott Despoja on the International Student policy, (Education services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, she actively promoted orientation programs and cultural events in Australian universities.

Speaking on how she started Gandhi Creations, Sonia says when she finished her course at the university, she bought an Indian shop in Westmead along with her cousin, which she had to close after 11 months. “I was quite unhappy with myself, and suffered a great loss as well, but I told myself to take it as a lesson and move forward. That loss in business taught me the best lesson of life,” she adds.

Closing the shop opened new avenues of thought for Sonia. “I thought about event management, and that is how ‘GoWyld Events’, which focussed on parties, came into shape. My friends and I ran the company for 14 months but then moved on to doing corporate events. The company has been now rebranded to ‘Gandhi Creations’, and is the leading multicultural event management consultancy in Australia delivering creative, strategic and tactical event management and event production services for over six years,” she says.

Besides running a successful event management company, Sonia has also produced and directed ‘Secrets of Sarees’, for Channel 9’s and NSW Art Gallery as part of the Goddess of India Exhibition, showcasing the diversity of Indian states by the way of fashion from various states in India.

She has also remained a regular contributor in print and online media and TV, raising awareness on community issues and cultural events in NSW.

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