Ballarat celebrates The Festival of Lights

The community came together for a colourful night of performances, festivities and dancing to celebrate Diwali.

The Festival of Lights is one of the most anticipated events of the year in the Hindu community and the Ballarat Indian Association held its own special celebration at Wendouree’s Cooinda Centre on Saturday night.

The Ballarat Indian Association secretary Meeta Narsi likened Diwali to Christmas and said, while the event was important for the local Indian community, it was a night out for the whole city. 

“Our motto is ‘let’s celebrate together’ because it’s a festival for the people of Ballarat,” Ms Narsi said. “It’s getting communities from everywhere here because we celebrate Diwali in a multicultural way.”

The night included multicultural performances and food stalls as well as more traditional aspects such as the ‘lighting of the lamp' – a ceremony where dignitaries were invited to the stage to light a candle. 

CELEBRATION: The Ballarat Indian Association's Diwali Festival of Lights. Picture: Dylan Burns

CELEBRATION: The Ballarat Indian Association's Diwali Festival of Lights. Picture: Dylan Burns

Javed Ahmed attended the event with his wife and two children despite having to go on to work the night shift at the hospital. 

He said the festival was a good opportunity for his children to have some exposure to the family’s background and culture while growing up in Australia.

He said it was also important for those living away from their native communities to be able to still participate in and share their cultural traditions. 

CELEBRATION: Drummers getting ready for their performance outside the Cooinda Centre. Picture: Dylan Burns

CELEBRATION: Drummers getting ready for their performance outside the Cooinda Centre. Picture: Dylan Burns

“It’s good to join these sorts of community functions,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity to socialise with your own community, but it also has a positive effect on the wider community because it grows the multicultural (aspect)  – and I think Australia still has a long way to go.”​

The Ballarat Indian Association president Xavier Mani said the event, which is in its third year, went better than expected with a crowd of about 300 gathering in the hall to enjoy a range of multicultural performances including music, singing and dancing. 

“We had a lot of dignitaries come all the way from Melbourne as well as local councillors, MPs and the deputy mayor,” Mr Mani said. 

“At the end the entire crowd went on stage and danced so they were all very happy to participate,” he said.  “When they left many people told the committee members that they had enjoyed themselves and had a very good evening and that’s what we intend to do.”

CELEBRATION: The Diwali Festival of Lights included both traditional and multicultural elements. Picture: Dylan Burns

CELEBRATION: The Diwali Festival of Lights included both traditional and multicultural elements. Picture: Dylan Burns