Yesterday I had the great pleasure of officially opening Canberra's Diwali Mela at Albert Hall. This annual festival has been running in Canberra since 2003 to celebrate the famous Festival of Lights. There are a number of community organisations of Indian cultural background that support the event, and it is a fantastic opportunity to come together and celebrate Indian culture, food and dancing.
I was fortunate enough to open the festival yesterday, as I mentioned, which is part of a five-day Hindu festival in India, marking an event from 5,000 years ago. As I said, it was a truly great day, with hundreds of people enjoying Bollywood dancing, the infamous fireworks that are always associated with Deepavali—and I have memories of living in India where my front yard was blown up by the fireworks—dancing and food. It was fantastic to see people from a range of South Asian backgrounds come together and share the richness of the Indian culture, from the north, the south, the east and the west—right across this great nation.
The Festival of Lights celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. It represents a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and religious tolerance, and spreading the word of peace and harmony. But, most of all, it is a celebration of the simple joys of life.
I would like to congratulate the organisers of the Diwali Mela in Canberra, and, particularly to the chairman, Krishan Aggarwal, a sincere thank you for inviting me to take part.
As was mentioned at the opening session, there is strength in unity. Happy Diwali—happy Deepavali!