Indian students celebrate Hindu festival Diwali in Australia

MELBOURNE, Oct. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ --

As Indians across the world prepare for the annual Diwali Festival, or festival of lights, Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology's Punjabi Club is inviting people of all backgrounds to help them celebrate tonight with "the best of Bollywood."

As Bollywood releases blockbuster films to coincide with the holiday in India, Swinburne's Punjabi Club will tonight stage traditional Bhangra and Giddha, Garba and Dandiya dances to bring in the annual five-day festival.

Punjabi Club president, and Diwali performer, Meit Shah, said the age-old festival of Indian history had evolved over the centuries from a mythology that set spark to the Indian spirit.

"According to Indian history, this day marks the celebration day when Hindu mythological god, Lord Ram, returned home after he had spent years in exile,'' he said.

Diwali is one of the most significant festivals of India; it is the festival of lights and also marks the beginning of a New Year to many Indians, he said. The festival also honours the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

As well as studying environmental biotechnology at Swinburne as an international student, Mr Shah is also a student representative on Swinburne's University Council member.  He said the club had been celebrating Diwali and Bandhi Chhorr Divas for the past four years to support the interests of international students, and share India's rich culture with Australians.

"This year, yet again we are in an attempt to unite cultures and bring together cultural understanding among various races. Our events are always free and open to everyone. We are not restricted to students and are open to people from various religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds,'' he said.

Outside of his university studies at Swinburne, Mr Shah is an event organiser and choreographer of the Indian Gujarati folk dance known as "Garba". He has choreographed and performed at Federation Square, Melbourne Airport, Victorian parliament and many international student-related functions at Swinburne since 2008.

"The whole idea is to instil a spirit of fun and bring the festive mood among us all. We are all set to bring to you vibrant performances and amazing DJs to hit you with the best of Bollywood,'' he said.

The celebration starts this afternoon Monday at Hawthorn Town Hall with free Indian food and entertainment.

Media contact:

Heather Crosling

Meit Shah

Source: Swinburne University of Technology