The Victorian Hindu community celebrated the 4th HOTA Forum Raksha Bandhan event on Saturday 14th September 2019 at the HSV Cultural Centre in Carrum Downs, Melbourne.
This year the event was hosted by Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS) Melbourne, along with HOTA Forum custodians – Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc (VHPAU) – Victorian Chapter. In an evening packed with informative and cultural segments, it was attended by representatives of various community organisations including eminent guests from government and the community.
The Raksha Bandhan event provides HOTA Forum partners and supporters an opportunity to network and reflect on the year-to-date whilst celebrating the pivotal role of women in our society. This annual gathering of community leaders is an important social and cultural event in the Victorian Hindu community calendar.
Formed in 2015, HOTA (Hindu Organisations Temples and Associations) Forum, Victoria aims to increase collaboration amongst the Hindu organisations, temples and associations based on the Hindu integrative concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – The World is one family. In practical terms the Forum helps meet group objectives and shared problem solving. This is done through effective networking, communication and collaboration of member organisations to continually build on the strong contribution the Hindu community provides in Victoria.
The night commenced with prayers by Mrs Rukumini Ashok Kumar and Vedic chanting by children of DJJS. Deepa Prajwalana (lamp lighting) was performed by representatives of various organisations present – Dr. Ramani Kadachan, Mrs Sandhya Padmanabhan, Parsu Sharma, Dr. Mandvi Bharadwaj and Mrs Sarabjeet Kaur.
Mr Vikas Sharma from DJJS welcomed guests, followed by address of Smt. Geeta Devi – Chair of HOTA Forum Victoria. She stated that Raksha Bandhan is a community collaboration of several organisations working together. Chief guest, Ms. Sonya Kilkenny, State MP representing Carrum Downs in her speech recognised the important contributions of the Hindu community in Victoria to multicultural Australia and the family values that festivals like Raksha Bandhan bring into society.
Thereafter, the Rakhi ceremony was performed where youth tied Rakhi to eminent guests. Hindu Society Victoria (HSV) president Dr. Siva Kadachan, Mr Parsu Sharma-Luital JP of Help Himalayan Youth Foundation, Dr Raju Adhikari, President, South Asian Community Australasia Link Group (SACLG) and Ms Sonya Kilkenny MP participated in the Rakhi ceremony.
This year’s guest of honour was former Governor of Mizoram Hon Dr Kummanam Rajasekharan, who was visiting Australia from his home state of Kerala. He spoke on the significance of Raksha Bandhan in terms of ‘Karma’ – each one’s contribution or action to help community at large. Mrs Maninder Preet of DJJS also touched upon the importance of Raksha Bandhan festival and the spiritual connection to bring about self-awareness to individuals.
The 2019 “Tejaswini – Woman of Substance” award was presented to an inspirational community leader, educator and Vedic exponent Mrs Prem Arya, for her invaluable services to Wyndham community by initiating a project to enhance health and break isolation of seniors. Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan from Multicultural Arts Victoria presented the award.
Each year a new partner organisation nominates to be the host for the HOTA Forum Victoria. Sri Dilshar Singh and team from DJSS passed the HOTA Forum baton to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Mill Park team, who are the HOTA Forum hosts for 2020.
The cultural segment of the program commenced with a Bhajan (devotional singing) by DJJS. Ms Navami Arun and Ms Deepthi Namboothiri performed Cholkettu, a traditional item in Mohiniyattam repertoire. Following this, DJJS team presented a play on Baba Nama Dev with a message on humanity. This play held the audience captivated and is the highlight of the evening.
Sri Durga Mandir and Vaishnav Sangh Melbourne, both had group of young ladies performing dances on Lord Krishna. DJJS youth presented foot tapping folk dances followed by the young ladies of DJJS with a dance item delivering a social message on Woman empowerment. Mr Kunal Mehta enthralled the audience with a vibrant song on Lord Ganesh. The whole event was expertly managed by two masters of ceremonies; Mrs Maninder Preet and Mrs Gurpreet of DJJS team. The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Mr Pramod Ji of DJJS, who acknowledged the fellow supporting HOTA organisations, volunteers and sponsors including the Victorian Government for their financial assistance.
Representatives from more than forty-five organisations, their committed members and supporters enjoyed the evening. They have all expressed the view that DJJS team have organised it well and thanked for their outstanding presentation of Raksha Bandhan 2019.