Celebrating Diwali at Woolgoolga C.ex.
Celebrating Diwali at Woolgoolga C.ex.

Festival shines a light on the efforts of firefighters

THE Indian community celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Lights, at the C.ex club in Woolgoolga recently.

Without compromising on the usual festivities and food, the focus this year was on raising funds for firefighters.

The annual festival, which typically falls between mid-October and mid-November, has its origins in the Indian epic Ramayana celebrating the return of Rama, a popular God-King, after a period of forced exile in a forest.

In a tradition that possibly dates back millennia, on Diwali night families light lamps on their front verandas to welcome the king back.

In Woolgoolga last weekend, children in colourful attires set the stage for the festivities with a sequence of dances recapping the last 70 years of Bollywood.

With more than ten weeks of practice behind them, they did not fail to delight. Parents and grandparents followed suit with an equally energetic and vibrant display of two traditional Indian dance forms: the garba, where women in colourful flared skirts with mirror work and intricately embroidered blouses dance in a circle; and the dandiya, an elegant folk-dance involving men and women dancing in pairs.

During the celebration, tributes were paid to the exceptional work being done by firefighters and volunteers in battling the current fires. A collection was made for the Rural Fire Service which netted $3800 in total donations. A painting by John Paul College student Jahnavi Prajapati was auctioned raising a further $250 for the cause.

The celebration of Diwali now appears set to become an annual fixture in the multicultural traditions of the region. For the last four years, because of increasing attendance, the celebrations have been held at public venues. Prior to that it was hosted by Shila and Ram Gounder for many years.