Celebrating India

Festival of Indian in Australia

India Day will shine a light on community heroes, social crusaders and small businesses. The event will also celebrate diversity and remind us of the strengths of diversity, says Hari Yellina

Festivals of South Asia Inc (FOSAI) is celebrating its second annual India Day at The Heritage in Epping in Victoria on 14 August. The event starting will begin with a flag hoisting ceremony at 5 PM followed by an art exhibition. India Day is hosted by FOSAI each year to celebrate Indian Independence giving a reason for Melbourne’s Indian diaspora to come together to celebrate the idea of “India”. “The idea is to evoke memories of how some of us have celebrated Indian Independence Day back in India. It’s a reason for us to remind each other how diversity is strength. This is not a religious festival but a festival to celebrate India becoming an independent democracy free from the clutches of colonial rule,” says Hari Yellina, secretary of the organising committee at FOSAI.

The Indian Independence Day is on 15 August and is celebrated across India by all faiths and cultures. Indians living overseas celebrate Indian Independence Day very seriously because it gives them an opportunity to talk about how diverse India is and how successfully such diversity coexisted for several years under various democratically elected governments. FOSAI’s India Day started in 2015 at the Werribee Race Course. August being a winter month, the event had to be planned as part-indoor, part-outdoor this year.

“We want India Day to be a signature event for Indians living in Australia. Till date we have only celebrated Diwali and Holi in a major way. These are predominately Hindu festivals. It’s time that we celebrate India Day and make this as a major focus event for Indians living overseas because diversity is our strength and we need to showcase this to the world. In Australia we have weather to challenge our outdoor events in August. However, we still want to ensure it gets its due attention and we have planned major festivities this year,” added Yellina.

India Day at Epping has two awards ceremonies and a fashion show planned. Spice Out 2016 sponsored by Parsram Foods is awarding top restaurants chosen through online voting. Over 50 Melbourne restaurants are in the fray to win 8 awards. Spice Out was launched in 2014 by world famous chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Ever since the launch of the event by Indian Executive Club, the event has been the only one for the hospitality sector catering to the Indian segment. Food category awards were part of the annual IEC Awards till 2014 before it was delinked from the main event and merged with India Day.

Similarly, The Indian Sun Person of the Year Awards is recognising five individuals and a group for outstanding contribution in their area of work.

“The awards are a highlight of India Day. This gives us all an opportunity to thank the people who serve our community through their social work or their business,” says Hari. “Such events are meant to strengthen and put the spotlight on the work some of our community leaders do. India Day is the day for us to say thank you to them as well.”

Another major highlight of the celebrations is Brides of Asia. Planned by Kareem, Brides of Asia will feature leading “social crusaders” from the community displaying ethnic bridal fashion. Kareem’s organisation Helping Hands will also be formally launched on the day. “Helping Hands is a social initiative to help vulnerable kids. And the models walking on the ramp have worked hard to raise money for kids in need. They are social crusaders with style. All proceeds from fashion shows and awards will be donated to vulnerable children affected by various societal problems including wars,” said Kareem.

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