A pompous celebration of the Hindu New Year in Melbourne
What started as a casual conversation among the Vedic Global team turned out to be an event that over 5,500 people attended. In its initial discussion, the Vedic Global team felt that there was a lack of awareness of the Hindu New Year (Vikram Samvat). The Hindu New Year is celebrated in different parts of India (and other neighbouring countries) at the time of harvesting of crops and known by different names in various regions.
According to the Hindu Panchanga (calendar), the Hindu New Year falls on different dates every year, with the onset of Chaitra month in March or April. Moreover, the Hindu New Year is called by different names in different regions of India – Vaisakhi, Ugadi, Vishu, Varusha Pirappu/Puthandu, Gudi Padwa, Bohag Bihu, Navreh to name a few. So, Vedic Global decided to celebrate the Hindu New Year, particularly in an attempt to ensure that everyone knows about it.
Tuesday 13 April 2021 (Vikram Samvat) was the obvious choice – the actual day of the Hindu New Year (Hindu Nav Varsh)! Vikram Samvat is 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. The team also felt that most people know about the Chinese New Year, so why not the Hindu New Year‽
With this dilemma in mind, Vedic Global approached Sri Durga Mandir Melbourne (the largest Hindu temple in Australia). Sri Durga Mandir’s team wholeheartedly welcomed the concept and offered their full support to celebrate the event at the temple’s behemoth and beautiful premises in Deanside. The partnership between Sri Durga Temple and Vedic Global was a milestone in itself as this was the first time that the Hindu New Year was celebrated in Australia. Vedic Global’s Dr Ritesh Chugh coined the theme – “Different Regions – Different Names – Same Spirit” to bring together the different names under the umbrella of the Hindu New Year.
In the lead up to the event, Vedic Global promoted messages of the Hindu New Year, highlighting the different names of the festival in the different regions but encouraging everyone to celebrate it as the Hindu New Year.
On the morning of the event, the executive team of Vedic Global (Rakesh Raizada, Monica Raizada, Harpreet Bharadwaj and others) and the executive members of Sri Durga Mandir (Kulwant Joshi, Gurpreet Gary Verma, Neeraj Kalia and others) were joined by many other volunteers to assist in the setup and cooking of the langar (holy food).
As the evening set, firstly, a pious havan (fire ritual) was performed for the wellbeing of everyone. This was followed by mesmerising dance performances on holy tunes by dancers from Deepak Dance Studio and Rachana Natyalaya. Kulwant Joshi (Temple President) welcomed everyone to the temple and highlighted the role of the temple in Hindu festivities. Monica Raizada eloquently spoke about the significance of the Hindu Nav Varsh. By this time, the temple premises were jam-packed, and it was a visual delight to see people revelling in the festivities. This was followed by a spectacular fireworks display, courtesy of Dharmendra Patel (Aussizz Group). Despite the chilly breeze, the devotees enjoyed the fireworks that ended with a loud roar and applause.
The event was graced by the presence of Kaushaliya Vaghela MP (Member for Western Metropolitan Region), Marlene Kairouz MP (Member for Kororoit), Viv Nguyen (Chairperson – Victorian Multicultural Commission), Sahana Ramesh (Wyndham City Councillor), Raj Kumar (Consul General of India Melbourne) and Bhakta Das (National Communications Director – ISKCON). In their speeches, the dignitaries highlighted the importance of this inaugural celebration of the Hindu New Year and the diversity it adds to the multicultural fabric of Australia.
In conclusion, events like these are successful because of the participation of the public, the sponsors and the selfless dedication of the volunteers, so our heartfelt gratitude goes out to all who made the Hindu New Year celebration a success. The Vedic Global team is already brimming with ideas to make next year’s celebration better and bigger.
Photo courtesy : Dr Ritesh Chugh