The Victorian Hindu community celebrated Raksha Bandhan event on Saturday, 14 September 2019 at the HSV Cultural Centre in Carrum Downs, Melbourne. This annual gathering of community leaders is an important social and cultural event in the Victorian Hindu community calendar.
This was the fourth edition of the celebrations by the Hindu Organisations Temples and Associations (HOTA) Forum.
This year, the event was hosted by Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS) Melbourne, along with HOTA Forum custodians—Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc (VHPAU)—Victorian Chapter. In an evening packed with informative and cultural segments, it was attended by representatives of various community organisations including eminent guests from the government.
The Raksha Bandhan event provides HOTA Forum partners and supporters an opportunity to network and reflect on the year whilst celebrating the pivotal role of women in society.
Formed in 2015, HOTA Forum, Victoria aims to increase collaboration among Hindu organisations, temples and associations based on the Hindu integrative concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’—The World is one family.
The night commenced with prayers by Mrs Rukumini Ashok Kumar and Vedic chanting by children of DJJS. The Deepa Prajwalana (lamp lighting) followed, and Dr Ramani Kadachan, Mrs Sandhya Padmanabhan, Parsu Sharma, Dr. Mandvi Bharadwaj and Mrs Sarabjeet Kaur did the honours.
Mr Vikas Sharma from DJJS welcomed guests, followed by address of Smt. Geeta Devi, Chair of HOTA Forum Victoria. “Raksha Bandhan is a community collaboration of several organisations working together,” he said. Chief guest, Ms. Sonya Kilkenny, State MP representing Carrum Downs in her speech recognised the important contributions of the Hindu community in Victoria to multicultural Australia and the family values that festivals like Raksha Bandhan bring into society.
Thereafter, the Rakhi ceremony was performed where young people tied rakhis for the guests. Hindu Society Victoria (HSV) president Dr. Siva Kadachan, Mr Parsu Sharma-Luital JP of Help Himalayan Youth Foundation, Dr Raju Adhikari, President, South Asian Community Australasia Link Group (SACLG) and Ms Sonya Kilkenny MP participated in the Rakhi ceremony.
This year’s guest of honour was former Governor of Mizoram Hon Dr Kummanam Rajasekharan, who was visiting Australia from his home state of Kerala. He spoke on the significance of Raksha Bandhan in terms of ‘Karma’—each one’s contribution or action to help community at large. Mrs Maninder Preet of DJJS also touched upon the importance of Raksha Bandhan festival and the spiritual connection to bring about self-awareness to individuals.
The 2019 “Tejaswini—Woman of Substance” award was presented to inspirational community leader, educator and Vedic exponent Mrs Prem Arya, for her services to Wyndham community by initiating a project to improve wellbeing and reduce the isolation of seniors. Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan from Multicultural Arts Victoria presented the award.
Each year a new partner organisation nominates to be the host for the HOTA Forum Victoria. Sri Dilshar Singh and team from DJSS passed the HOTA Forum baton to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Mill Park team, who are the HOTA Forum hosts for 2020.
The cultural segment of the program commenced with a Bhajan (devotional singing) by DJJS. Ms Navami Arun and Ms Deepthi Namboothiri performed Cholkettu, a traditional item in Mohiniyattam repertoire. Following this, DJJS team presented a play on Baba Nama Dev with a message on humanity, which held the audience captivated.
Sri Durga Mandir and Vaishnav Sangh Melbourne had groups performing dances on Lord Krishna. DJJS youth presented foot tapping folk dances followed by the young ladies of DJJS with a dance item delivering a social message on women’s empowerment. Mr Kunal Mehta enthralled the audience with a song on Lord Ganesh. The whole event was expertly managed by two masters of ceremonies—Mrs Maninder Preet and Mrs Gurpreet of DJJS team. The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Mr Pramod Ji of DJJS, who acknowledged the fellow supporting HOTA organisations, volunteers and sponsors including the Victorian Government for their financial assistance.
Representatives from more than 45 organisations, their committed members and supporters enjoyed the evening.