Diwali at the Consulate General, Sydney

By Neena Badhwar

Diwali was celebrated at the Consulate General of India with around 15-20 community members (number restricted due to Covid) to share and discuss the spirit of Diwali festival.

Prime Minister Scott Morisson’s Diwali message was played where he talked about the darkness that fell on us all as a humanity and that the festival of Diwali gives a light of hope in the times to come.

Consul General Manish Gupta and his beautiful wife Maneesha Gupta were there to wish us all a Happy Diwali. Mr Ramanand Gurge presented some audio visuals about the ”˜Vande Matram’ operation where the Government of India took great task of repatriating around a million NRI workers from abroad on Air India flights with stranded people thanking the government officials for all the help they provided in various countries, including Australia. Said Manish Gupta, “It was hard and that there are still around 8,000 Indian Australians to be brought in with just 40 allowed on each flight due to restrictions put in place by the NSW government. Imagine, how many flights will that take.”

All the way through 2020 with Covid-19 it has been hard yet the Consulate office has been conducting virtual webinars, discussions, doing office duties, meetings through virtually through the net. “The MOUs have been signed, trade talks, delegations, conferences in small numbers have all been happening.”

Manish Gupta also mentioned that in 2022 India will be celebrating 75th year of India’s Independence and that the Consulate is planning to celebrate the occasion in a big way. He said, “Also the Consular office was set up in Australia in 1941 which will make it 80 years in the year 2021. I would like you all in the community to come up with ideas and suggestions on how we should celebrate 75th year in 2022.”

Mrs Nimeesha Gupta read a thoughtful poem ‘Rangoli – Mann me puroye apno ki yaad’ in Hindi in relation to the Coronavirus and how it has changed our perception and thus the importance of relationships, society, the meaning of life. It was nice to hear her and her thoughts expressed as the virus has left a deep impression on us and and thus the introspection on life as such.

Another audio visual of vibrant Gidda dance by Hunre-E-Punjab was played and Mr. Garge asked people from the floor to speak.

Mr Seva Singh ji, of the Haryana Association came forward and spoke about his dream of establishing a place for the Indian community in Sydney such as a ”˜Bharat Bhavan’ in Parramatta which is now fast becoming the hub of Indian community. Kalpana Ram talked about how the Millennials are not that much into Indian culture and its rich values suggesting it would be good to engage them through the event planned. Mr. Srinivasan talked about Sanskrit school that now runs virtually having grown to now over 200 students during Covid-19.

It was good to meet Mr. B K Anand who has joined as Consul to the Consulate General, Sydney, having moved here in the month of July, he said, “It was such a relief to be in Sydney during Coronavirus that hit us all over the world.”

Manish Gupta said for any information on the Consular services people must either visit the Consulate Generals’ Facebook or the website where all the information is there to do with visa requirements, document attestations and any other information. Recently a virtual meeting was held between Abbas Raza Alvi’s ISCOA on September 30 when the issue of document attestation came up that people should get their documents notorised by the Notary public instead of a JP. The community concern was that notorisation of each and every document could cost a lot. In the meeting which was held through Zoom, Mr. Gupta mentioned that anyone could get the self-attestation at VFS at no cost. And for people living out of Sydney like in Wollongong, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and other areas, either they should visit VFS Sydney or have to use the Notary public. He suggested that the community should find out the notary public who can notorise documents at a discounted rate. For people who are in need to get their documents attested, or visa and passport applications, please visit: https://www.vfsglobal.com/india/australia/consular_miscellaneous/attestation_of_documents.html

The Consulate General of India, Sydney is quite active on Facebook having gathered a following and a social network that is regularly informed of all its activities and information on trade and bilateral relations between India and Australia.  Do visit the Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConsulateGeneralofIndiaSydneyAustralia/ and keep in touch with various cultural activities, weekly yoga classes, Ayurveda Day (13th November), an interactive quiz ”˜Bharat Ko Jaaniye www.bharatkojaniye.in’ which the honourable India’s High Commissioner Sh. A Gitesh Sarma is saying in the video how youth aged between 18-35 years can take part in the third edition of the Quiz in two categories for PIOs and NRIs and Foreign nationals. The quiz is conducted by the External Affairs Ministry to motivate youth and enhance knowledge about India. The quiz will be run on line in four rounds. He says, “Top final fifteen contestants will be invited after covid-19 on ‘Bharat Ko Janiye’ tour of India. “It is mandatory for the contestants to register (www.bharatkojaniye.in) to take part,” he says.

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