Huge crowds descend on Docklands for Diwali
More than 1500 people defied Melbourne’s wet weather on October 29 to gather at Ron Barassi Snr Park for Docklands’ first major Diwali event.
Despite the inclement weather forcing the cancellation of several other Diwali events around Melbourne, Docklands’ first Diwali celebrations went ahead thanks to the hard work of more than 150 volunteers and the event’s partners.
Local not-for-profit organisation SarasCare, which staged Diwali with the support of Docklands Neighbourhood House, gave away more than 4000 free meals and 3400 toys valued at more than $70,000 to attendees on the day.
More than 250 performers entertained the massive crowds during the eight-hour event, which saw a range of group and individual performances with no shortage of dancing, singing and drumming.
With crowd numbers far exceeding the organiser’s expectations and the wet weather forcing cancellations and changes to a number of its plans, SarasCare director Gautam Gupta said he was grateful to everyone who helped make for a “safe and joyous event”.
“The first Diwali@Docklands defied the worst Victorian October weather in decades and delivered an incredible display of Indian temple-made Sattvic food, a pop-up temple experience, music and songs from every corner of India,” he said.
“The light and goodness of the Docklands community overcame the darkness of rain clouds and repeated showers. This was all driven by a massive grassroots community effort.”
“At SarasCare we were humbled by the generosity of so many Diwali champions – partners, supporters and performers – who came to our office for months to plan and execute a safe and joyous event that had never happened before in the Docklands.”
The event was also attended by Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimoplous, Victorian MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell and City of Melbourne councillor and Docklands resident Jamal Hakim.
Mr Gupta said Diwali Docklands was made possible thanks to the support of donors, a $7500 contribution from Docklands Neighbourhood House and more than $4700 in donations from attendees on the day.
Having supported the event with a $2000 donation of its own, Docklands Chamber of Commerce executive officer Shane Wylie said it was “great to see Diwali celebrated in Docklands”.
“We welcome greater input from our Indian community and are very cognisant that they make up one third of all residents in Docklands currently,” Mr Wylie said.
“We’d love our Indian and Asian communities to have more input and cultural celebrations in Docklands. Together they make up almost 70 per cent of our Docklands population.”
“Diwali celebrations saw an attendance that wasn’t expected – clearly our Indian community gather when invited and we’d love to see more of it.” •
Photos by Rachel Litwin.