Holi Hai’s festival of colours

Young riders on a train of camels from Peter Hodge Camel Hire. 322573_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Sahar Foladi

South-east communities had a taste of India and its culture at the famous Holi festival celebrations in Dandenong Park on Sunday March 12.

Australian Indian Innovations Inc. (AIII) staged what was their 15th year of Holi, also known as ’festival of colours’.

Yogen Lakshman, the AIII trustee and vice president, said: “The association was formed to portray the festivals of India. The two main ones are Holi Festival of Colours and Diwali Festival of Lights.

“We wanted to put together a concept of a group or community that would portray Indian culture to the public.”

The family event saw a day out filled with colours where people literally applied gulal (coloured powder) on one another.

Entertainment proceeded with Bollywood dance and songs, stalls, Indian food, camel rides and other rides for kids.

Since 2002, AIII has hosted many successful festivals.

“Twenty years ago this was something new and well embraced by the public in the south-east. Seven years ago we brought Indian idol and singer Mika Singh. That was one of our biggest events we’ve ever done. We had 17,000 people in that event,” Mr Lakshman said.

However, the aim of the organisation is to make these family fun events free of charge for the wider community to participate.

“The concept is to be family friendly and invite people from diverse backgrounds. We see more and more non-Indian people come to our events and that is pleasing.

“As long as they come and participate we have done our bit in the Australian multicultural society.“

Prior to the association an event like this would be at a religious setting in Carrum Downs, limiting the involvement of people from diverse communities.

“That’s the change we have made – from a religious to a cultural aspect where people from all cultures, races and groups could come forward.

“That is why we are successful because once we started doing this, it was great – 15,000 to 20,000 people would turn up in festivals – never heard of in Melbourne.”

Political figures such as Premiers have joined in the fun.

Holi is also an invocation for a good spring harvest season where people get together to celebrate while the religious aspect is about the victory of good over evil.

Since its existence AIII has inspired many other organisations scattered in Melbourne’s North and West such as, ‘Celebrate India.’