By Ritesh Chugh & RipanSethi
Diwali signals the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. It brings joy to our lives and the notion of celebrating with loved ones is entrenched in this much-awaited Indian festival of lights. In its attempt to further light up Diwali this year, Melbourne based, Forum for Indian Australians (FIA) organised a Diwali lights competition for the Wyndham city in Victoria.
In September, FIA proudly announced Melbourne’s “First Diwali Lights Competition” to reward the zeal of Wyndham residents, who were ready to take Diwali lights decoration a notch higher in the true spirit of Diwali. The competition encouraged residents to light up the external facades of their homes and make it a feast for the eyes of everyone.And residents enthusiastically participated as entries flowed from all over Wyndham.The competition was supported by Hon. Robin Scott MP (Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Finance) who said in a video that “this is a great opportunity for the community of Wyndham to celebrate together and bring local streets to life. This celebration embodies the spirits of Victoria’s multicultural community”
A panel of judges visited the houses and judging was based on the overall appeal of the external decorations.The judges drove around Point Cook, Manor Lakes, Tarneit, Truganina and Wyndam Vale to look at the Diwali lights’ entries. The judges found their judging drive around brightly-lit Wyndham “mesmerising” as they drove over 100 kms and locations included those that even Google maps did not pick up. A post on Forum for Indian Australians (FIA)’s Facebook page said that “It was mesmerising because hundreds of houses were lit up to celebrate Diwali. It was truly heartening to see the spirit of Diwali captured beautifully. Well done to everyone who took the time & effort to lighten up Wyndham. Through the lights, an awareness of Diwali was also created in Wyndham.” The judging panel also felt that while many entries were received, there were many beautifully decorated houses that didn’t submit their entries.
The competition was open for nearly three weeks in the lead up to Diwali. Cash prizes wereannounced for 3 decorated properties across Wyndham with a top prize of $1000 and $500 for the runners-up. Prizes for this community initiative were sponsored by 361 Degrees Real Estate, Yogi Education Group and Grocer-Eez.In November, Minister Scott presented the awards to the winners in a ceremony organised in his office where he also acknowledged the support of the sponsors.In his speech at the awards presentation ceremony, Minister Scott said Diwali is a wonderful event to celebrate and also praised FIA for initiating something quite profound, by creating in public space the wonderful celebrations of Diwali! He congratulated FIA for the efforts in giving back to the community and also mentioned that “cultural heritage makes the Victorian community stronger”!
The first prize winners were Meet and Priya Pandya from Manor Lakes and the equally tied runners-up were Mahesh and Ritu Soni from Point Cook and Dilsher Singh Gill from Tarneit. Dilsher Singh Gill donated his prize money to a charitable organisation.
As Wyndham city lit up brightly this year, FIA hopes to light up all of Melbourne next Diwali. Stay tuned for next year’s competition and other such community-oriented initiatives via FIA’s Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/fiaforum/