Sydney goes virtual to celebrate Hindi Diwas – 2020

Hindi Divas 2020 in Australia was celebrated all across the country with Indian consulates in capital cities organised events, panel discussions and interaction with the NRIs here who are associated in the field of Hindi. Teachers, academics, experts all came together. But the new norm is interaction through zoom in virtual sessions. Children who are learning Hindi at schools read their pieces, poets held poetry sessions and experts and academics poke about the impact of Hindi in Australia. Hindi now is one of the top ten languages spoken in Australia and its influence is being noticed everywhere. There is great enthusiasm amongst Hindi speaking people.

According to the 2016 census, Hindi ranks at number seven out of the 10 most spoken languages ”‹”‹in Australia. Hindi speaking people are growing in number in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. Apart from Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi are also ranked high. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of June 2018 there were about 592,000 Indians. Hindi is the most spoken language among the Indian languages, almost by 159,652 people.

A number of activities this year were organized and supported by the Indian High Commission and the Consulate General of Australia.

Consulate General of Australia in Sydney organized a virtual panel discussion on various aspects of Hindi in Australia on September 11, 2020 . The panel consisted of 5 eminent people working in the field of Hindi Mala Mehta (Founder, IABBV Hindi School), Kumud Merani (Producer, SBS Hindi Radio), Dr Meena Srinivasan (Founder, Sydney Sanskrit School), Rekha Rajvanshi (Founder, Indian Literary & Art Society of Australia, ILASA Inc), and Charles Thomson (an eminent medioa personality in India) and the moderator was Mr Ramanand Garge, Director of Sri Vivekananda Cultural Centre run at The Indian Consulate General of India, Sydney. At the beginning, Mr Manish Gupta, Consul General of India in Sydney spoke about the significance of Hindi and other panelists spoke about how Hindi is contributing positively in the field of education, media and literature in Australia.

IABBV Hindi school teachers and students celebrated Hindi day graced by the many dignitaries and parliamentarians, also present virtually. Cultural performances by the children and poetry recitation competition were held in zoom sessions. This year 60 children from the age of 5 to 18 participated. The poetry competition was organized in the memory of the poet Vimala Luthra. One could see that teachers had worked hard to prepare their students for the poetry competition.

Charles Thompson above, Rekha Rajvanshi and   Mrs. Nimeesha Gupta at the poetry session held on zoom by ILASA

On actual Hindi Divas, September 14, 2020, Hindi Kavi Sammelan was held by Indian Literary & Art Society of Australia (ILASA Inc). Supported by the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Australia, the poetry mehfil has been an annual event for the past 10 years.

Literature is not only a means of entertainment and an opportunity to express oneself in their mother tongue, it educates people, documents events of a particular era, passes it on to the younger generation and builds bridges between two countries. In this virtual world brought on due to Covid-19, literature has been accessible worldwide and has helped connect eminent writers and poets thus helping in meeting of the minds and thus evolving in a new way using the virtual form of technology that has come into being.

Rekha Rajvanshi (ILASA Founder) welcomed everyone and the program started with Saraswati Vandana by Richa Srivastava. Then Consul General of India Mr. Manish Gupta addressed the poets. He acknowledged ILASA’s efforts in creating a platform to promote literature and Indian Culture in Australia. He also spoke about how and why literature plays a role in language learning and building bridges.   After that Consul General’s wife Mrs. Nimeesha Gupta read her poem. It was amazing to hear her poem on Vasant (Spring season) in Australia.

The Kavi Sammelan started with the young, new and some known poets of Sydney. This year an eminent Hindi poet and Dohakar Naresh Shandilya was invited to join and inspire Australia’s poets. Amongst the younger poets were – Abhishek Tongia, Manit Bhaskar, Vrishali Jain, Pankaj Upadhyay, Mrinal Sharma, Sonu Sarda, Jyotsna Jyoti, whose poetry was full of emotions with the use of new similies and metaphors. Other published poets, who recited their poetry were: Mr Anil Verma, Vijay Kumar Singh, Yasmin Husaini, and Rekha Rajvanshi.

Mr Ramanand Garge, Director of the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Center, Clr. Reena Jethi from the Baulkham Hills Shire Council and Clr. Sameer Pandey of Parramatta Council were also invited to speak. They expressed their views on how Hindi is gaining popularity in Australia and how language learning and literature stimulates our brain.

The Kavi Sammelan ended with a thanks giving speech by ILASA’s Rekha Rajvanshi, quoted an article published in New York Times in 2017, “There are an estimated 7,000 languages that are spoken in the world today, with linguists claiming, nearly half of these in danger of extinction and likely to disappear in this century. In Australia itself nearly all of the 231 spoken aboriginal tongues are in danger of extinction.”

Rekha being a big supporter of language learning, emphasized  the importance of Hindi learning and teaching our children to speak, read and write our mother tongue. She also insisted on passing down literature to the younger generation brought up in Australia.


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