Although the 200 people gathered were from diverse backgrounds, there was one passion that brought them all together—Hindi
Hindi Diwas (day) celebration was celebrated at the Indian Consulate in Sydney on 14 September, when over 200 Hindi lovers including writers and teachers gathered for the event organised by the Indian Literary and Art Society of Australia (ILASA) and Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Australia. The occasion was dedicated to celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and began with an online quiz on Mahatma Gandhi, an initiative of the Indian Consulate, which was followed by ILASA founder and renowned poet Rekha Rajvanshi’s welcome speech. She mainly spoke about Gandhi’s views on Hindi and recited a brief poem on Hindi.
Indian Consul General Mr Manish Gupta spoke to the gathering about Gandhian principles and how they are relevant in today’s world. He also spoke about growing need of Hindi in Australia.
Richa Srivastava’s newly formed ‘Sri Hindi Choir Group’ performed beautifully Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan To Taine’. The adult choir group was followed by Darcy Road Public School children, who performed Vande Mataram and Hindi Bhasha hamko pyari hai. Hindi teachers of Darcy Road Public School Ekta Chanana and Kulwinder Kaur worked hard to teach children these songs.
The program was emceed diligently by Sanghmitra Kumar and Virat Nehru, who kept the audience entertained by their witty comments. Indranil Haldar spoke about his ‘Dhoti Sutra’ Movement and how he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, a poem on Dhoti was also recited by Bhawna Kunwar.
For the first time, the ‘Hindi Sahitya Sewa Samman’ was given on Hindi diwas, to a satirist and writer Santram Bajaj, who has also served as the President of Australian Hindi Indians Association (AHIA).
The award ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on how to promote Hindi in Australia. The panelists were: Nihal Agar, Mala Mehta OAM, Archana Chaudhary (first Hindi teacher in NSW), Mritunjay Kumar Singh (South Asian Hindi School), Meena Srinivasan (founder of Sydney’s first Sanskrit school), and Ekta Chanana (teacher, Darcy Road Public School). The discussion was moderated by past Hindi teacher writer and poet Rekha Rajvanshi, and focused on how Hindi can be promoted in schools. It was suggested that community and parents run a campaign in their children’s schools and convince authorities that there is a need to start Hindi at the mainstream level.
There was a poetry recital too, dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy on peace, harmony, truth, nonviolence, and the environment. The poets were Shweta Sharma, Amandeep Singh, Mrinal Sharma, Vipul Goyal, Manit Bhaskar, Farida Lehri, Farhat Iqbal, Sahil Kandol, Richa Raj Srivastava, Sidhant Nakra, Gunjan Tripathi, Virat Nehru, Anil Verma, Neena Badhwar, Vijay Kumar Singh, Awadhesh Sinha, Om Varma (from India).
Community leaders such as Dr Nihal Agar (Past President, Hindu Council), Dr Shailja Chaturvedi (Past President, Hindi Samaj), Raj Dixit (Councillor, Burwood Council) and Sewa Singh (President, Haryana Association), Gunjan Tripathi (President Hindi Samaj) Pradeep Kumar Sinha and his team from Darpan Radio, Sukhdev Jaswal from Radio Mahak and other media attended the program to explore how Hindi can be better promoted in Australia.