Diwali is most certainly the Indian festival of lights but there is no denying that Sydney has adopted the festival big time; with celebrations ranging from pop-up stalls selling subcontinental food and clothing in your local mall to the huge festivities in the open air attended by tens of thousands of people. Local governing authorities join in the fun as well, by hosting large scale Diwali cultural entertainment events, conducting competitions for the best lit-up houses and much more.
This year, amongst all of the lights I have seen, I thought two of them are most beautiful. Even though both of them were starkly different in terms of their proportions, it was the thought behind both that made them my absolute favourites.
The first one was the lit-up hand painted diyas (lamps) which were sold by my dear friend Indu Harikrishna to raise money to support Cancer Council. The innovative concept of integrating the Indian festival of lights into fundraising for cancer was such a brilliant one, I could not but applaud it! “Diya workshop was chosen to mark Diwali, and represent the Indian culture. A lit-up diya also symbolises a ray of hope for the people who are fighting cancer”, said Indu about the idea.
Coupled with this was the fact that she spent a whole Saturday along with the artist at the local governing council’s stall, hosting a workshop on hand-painting diyas. How the local community warmed up to it and helped her to meet the target was a lesson in itself; embracing it the true multicultural way.
The second light that impressed me was something in a much larger scale than the first – where the iconic Sydney Opera house’s sails that were lit up in gorgeous gold by the New South Wales Government; embodying the spirit of Diwali. Sixth year in a row, this was done during a community reception hosted by NSW Premier Gladys Berejeklian.
It was very interesting to observe how terrace of the otherwise modern Museum of Contemporary Arts in Circular Quay donned a traditional look with the Indian bhajans and chants filling the air before the Premier lit up the sails.
I was delighted as well as humbled to attend the reception amongst many who do excellent work in the Indian Australian space. As the rich colours of silk sarees and elegant kurtas cut through the dusk, the smiles were no less vibrant than the spirit of multiculturalism the gathering portrayed.