By Mitchell Clarke
The community put their own beliefs and cultures aside over the weekend to come together and celebrate Diwali at the Officer Sikh temple (Gurdwara).
Key Indian and Sikh festivals Bandi Chor Diwas and Diwali were celebrated with full zest and fervour in the highly spiritual environment.
13 public figures attended the celebrations including state opposition leader Michael O’Brien, assistant Minister for Customs Jason Wood, Gembrook MP Brad Battin, Bass MP Jordan Crugnale and Cardinia Shire Council mayor Graeme Moore.
“This is Victoria. Multicultural, diverse, friendly and giving,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Congratulations to all at the Gurdwara on the success of the day.”
The event focused on enlightening community members about India’s main festivals and the Sikh faith and culture.
Diwali, also referred to as “Indian Christmas” was celebrated to promote social cohesion and the event was designed around volunteering and multiculturalism.
“We are very lucky in Casey and Cardinia to embrace our increasing multiculturalism, working together in harmony to build a thriving and stronger community for all,” Mr Battin said.
“It’s not about tolerance of different religions or groups, it’s about embracing them.”
Mr Battin, who has been involved with the temple since its inception, invited a number of his colleagues to the event to participate in serving community meals to the congregation of people.
“It was a great opportunity for us as MPs to give back to them and serve them on a day which is highly important for them to say thank you,” he said.
“This was our way to support them and embrace what they do for our community.”
Serving traditional vegetarian Sikh meals, attendees said it was a great day with so many local families turning out to enjoy both the food and company.
Community spokesperson Harpreet Singh said the event wasn’t just about celebrating Diwali, it was also giving back to a worthy charity.
“Siri Guru Nanak Darbar is a not-for-profit community centre that always organises and supports events for a cause,” Mr Singh explained.
“Today’s celebrations supported an embedded cause in collaboration with The Fred Hollows foundation Donations shall be made to enable people have vision to enjoy lights on the festival of lights.”
Guests in attendance on the day were honoured with Siropas and a silver coin to mark the inception of celebrations of the upcoming 550th birthday of the founder of Sikh faith ‘Guru Nanak’ which will be held from Tuesday 12 November to Saturday 16 November.
Bass MP Jordan Crugnale represented Minister for Multicultural Affairs Richard Wynne and said it was a great event to be a part of.
“When we join in with festivities and celebrations of any kind we open our minds to understanding how others see the world, what is important to them and what they value,” Ms Crugnale said.
“We gain a new perspective, we broaden our own and this binds us together as a community and enriches us a society. If we are valued we contribute, we link arms and we walk forward together as a community.”
Ms Crugnale said seeing children partake in their own cultural activities was “heartening” because it gave them a sense of pride and confidence.
“Diwali is where the Indian community celebrate light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance – I think we can all relate to that,” she said.
“With so many cultures now calling Australia home, when we have an understanding of peoples journeys and traditions, story and culture, we are all the richer as a community for it.
“Cardinia is growing and the strength it has through the diversity of this community is getting prouder every day.”