Raksha Bandhan 2016
On Saturday the 25th of September Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc – Victoria Chapter, HOTA VIC forum host for 2016 organised a very successful Raksha Bandhan celebration with a gala dinner night at Encore Events Centre, Melbourne. Chosen due to its strong focus on family values, female empowerment and the celebration of universal fellowship, the Raksha Bandhan theme was enjoyed by all in attendance.
HOTA (Hindu Organizations, Temples & Associations) VIC forum was formed in 2015 at the 4th Australian National Hindu Conference organized by VHP of Australia Inc. The aim of the forum is to facilitate interconnectivity among the various organizations and to create additional value with greater focus on the needs of the local Hindu community.
Raksha Bandhan event was the first public HOTA VIC forum event and was attended by over 50 partners and supporting organisations. With over 250 community leaders and representatives present, the event was hosted by two youth and first time MC’s Ramya Annavarapu and Sameer Betanabhatla featuring a series of presentations and performances by local artists.
After the Deepa Prajwalan (lamp lighting) by a group of esteemed female community leaders, introductory prayers by Madhuri Vasa opened the evening. In the formal welcome speech, VHP Victoria President Smt Geeta Devi explained the idea behind Raksha Bandhan event with the concept of unity in diversity and respecting women – “With over 85,000 Hindus in Victoria alone, we strive to nurture the cultural identity. Raksha Bandhan makes us to relook at the actual significance of the festivals and apply it to the contemporary society around us.”
A major focus of the evening was the “Tejaswini – Woman of Substance” award. This year it was presented to Smt Rohini Kappadath, Chair of the Multicultural Ministerial Business Advisory Council and the 2015 Telstra Victorian Business Woman for the Corporate and Private sector. A national advocate for Australia’s engagement with the Asian region, Smt Rohini shared how she keeps the rakhie traditions alive and cherishes the memories.
The Special Guest for the evening was the Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Dr. Mimmi Claudiene Ngyum Chi Watts. In her delightful speech she mentioned how she kept her ancestral names as well as given names and proud of her African heritage. She also emphasized on the role of migrants in the betterment of Australia as well as the role of all of the cultural organizations present in the room.
Following on, the tone of the evening shifted slightly as the next event was a step-by-step run through of the Rakhie ceremony by Smt Mahitha Cherukuwada. Dr. Ngyum Chi Watts, Cr Gautam Gupta, Victoria Police community Engagement Manager Ms. Rosa Rossi and Ms. Pushp Sidhu participated in this ceremony with Hindu community youth performing the rakhie tying ceremony.
Bringing the focus back to the organizer of the evening, HOTA VIC forum secretary Sri Naga Bhushan Sharma Betanabhatla presented a brief overview of HOTA VIC forum and thanked all the organisations that took the responsibility for various champion roles.
The second segment of the night was the cultural performances, which were in three different art forms – singing, dancing and martial arts. Each art form was mesmerizing and technically brilliant. The dance was a classical dance performance of Bharata Natyam by Smt Meghala Bhat, where she portrayed the female form of Shakti. A demonstration of the martial art of KalariPayattu followed this. This ancient art form of Kerala was showcased by members of a Melbourne School called Kalari Healing led by Ms Ramona Lalita Yagnik and also featuring her students. The final act, a medley of songs by the esteemed Mr. Sriram Iyer, was the thumping finale that would close the performance section of the evening.
All of the performances were of the highest quality and a testament to the diverse art forms of the subcontinent. Showing a variety of different skills and talents, the artists were impeccable in their preparation and output. They made everyone in the room proud of their heritage – they deserve to be thanked for their time and effort.
As the evening draw to a close, the host for the 2017 HOTA VIC forum was announced with India Australia Exchange Forum led by Sri Vijeth Shetty accepting the HOTA VIC forum baton. Smt Krishna Sharma, Secretary VHP Victoria thanked all volunteers and especially the Be the Change team for their support of the Raksha Bandhan gala dinner night.
From the time of its inspection by Sri Swami Vigyananand Ji in 2015, the HOTA VIC forum has grown into a very real and tangible platform for the Victorian Hindu community. All the member/partner organizations and supporters are to be commended for their support and positive commitment to this notion of a more dedicated community.