Jai Ho AHIA!

By Neena Badhwar

Australian Hindi Indian Association celebrated its silver jubilee as well as Diwali on October 19, 2019 at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl. The occasion was graced by Mr. S. C. Salimath, Vice Consul, Consulate General of India, Sydney and Ms Wendy Lindsay, MP, East Hills.

The hall was brimming with excitement as guests were welcomed with sweets by the smiling ladies and Lord Ganesha. People who have been loyal members of the association since 1994 all came dressed to dazzle.

Three life-members namely Bindu Kalra, Santram Bajaj and Dr. Rakesh Sachdev on the night were honoured for their lifetime service to the association as well as to the community.

Without the diehard loyalty and hard work by some members and their spouses AHIA would not be going as strong as it has been for the last twenty-five years it has been running. Bindu Kalra, Sarita Sachdev, Subhashini Channa, Sushma Ahluwalia and late Raj Bajaj, late Rani Bhasin, late Sushma Dua have all been like a rock as they are and were the matriachs who worked hard and contributed a life time of volunteer work and were thus able to forge strong friendships and bonds among themselves. Same with the men namely: Yash Bhasin, Tilak Kalra, Santram Bajaj, Rajendra Channa, Rakesh Sachdev, Jagdish Dua and Vipin Dogra. These are some of the names but the association has been going strong due to its members who regularly meet on a monthly basis, enjoy picnics, outings, play games and attend info sessions to do with health and other useful topics.

The 19th October was a function organised by Preeti Thadani who was also the Emcee of the evening, which started with performances to Bollywood numbers, a Diwali skit and a joyous dance on the song ”˜Jai Ho’ by over thirty ladies and gents who took to stage in great fervour. When asked by Preeti, how Diwali was 25 years ago, one Kanti Deewan from the crowd reminisced good old days when he said, “Connectivity with each other was missing as we were very few in number. Couple of Diwalis we totally missed,” he sang the famous song, ”˜Hum tau hain pardes mein, des mein nikla hoga chand’.

A Diwali skit followed how quiet Diwali used to be in Australia when people came here first in the seventies, ”˜Patake tau baja sakte the nahi, baaki sab kuchh baja sakte hain’ touched the chord since we miss the fireworks how in India we could hear ”˜patakas’ in the street the whole night. Anyway even in India now the fireworks are banned because of the pollution they create. Yet the memories go back to the good old days of fire crackers and sparklers associated with the festival of Diwali.

Live entertainment by Seven Flavours, started with a burst of hot, sizzling, and passionate fusion dances, Latino, Ballroom and Bollywood styles.

Popular songs like Merey Rushkey Qamar, Swag Se Swagat, Shape of U, Boballio were thoroughly enjoyed by one and all. It had the guests in awe, enjoying the vivacious and energetic performers, some got into the swing as they joined in on stage along with performers.

People enjoyed the food while hugging, smiling wishing each other Diwali greetings, it being a night of celebration of having reached many a milestones in its 25 years of journey. AHIA has tried to infuse in it younger members lately some second generation have shown interest in the organisation of the events such as Diwali and Holi.

AHIA has run its monthly newsletter ”˜Sandesh’ edited by the capable editor Santram Bajaj who has devoted his valuable time having encouraged writers in Hindi as well as English with some quite thought provoking articles on life, spirituality and humour, himself being a very good writer who also contributes regularly to The Indian Down Under newspaper and website.

AHIA also celebrates every year grandparents and grandchildren day, Holi, Diwali and other important festivals. It has organised informative talks on health, medical issues, poetry sessions, antakshris and much more. AHIA executive members have also been honoured by the Premier of NSW as well. Its an association that has grown stronger with time as many newly arrived senior parents have joined in the recent years. Yet it is trying its utmost to bring in younger members who can carry its goals forward to cater to the social and cultural needs of Indian migrants and assisting them to assimilate within the Australian society.

Happy 25th anniversary AHIA, hope you grow for many more years.

Pics by: Subhashini Channa, Usha Dammaraju, Mala Mehta, Neena Badhwar

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