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Diwali set to light up Mernda

Joel Hargreaves discusses the importance of bringing the Diwali festival to the local community of Mernda.

Every year in autumn people gather all across the world to celebrate Diwali, known commonly as ‘the festival of lights’.

The festival is a deeply spiritual occasion, celebrating the triumph of good over evil, whilst usually enjoying plenty of good food in the process.

This year will see the festival reach out to communities in outer suburban Melbourne, with the suburb of Mernda hosting the inaugural Diwali festival of lights.

Although Melbourne prides itself as being a ‘mixing pot of global cultures’ and does host a Diwali festival at Federation Square, the CBD location still leaves some families on the city’s outskirts at a disadvantage; like those living in the suburb of Mernda.

A display of traditional Indian culture.

With the suburb boasting little public transport options and a budding Indian community, locals will now be able to attend their very own Diwali festival held at Butterscotch Park in Mernda.

The President of the Mernda and Doreen Multicultural Association’s (MADMA), Tom Joseph, saw this as a vital opportunity to encourage multiculturalism in the area.

“Almost eight per cent of Mernda’s population are people being of Indian origin. So we at MADMA through celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, believe it’s a very good way of promoting multiculturalism in the community,” he tells upstart.

Reasons like the suburb being located roughly 30 kilometres north of Melbourne and lacking a connecting city train line, proved to be the major deciding factor for the area to host their very first festival this Sunday.

“The high cost of housing in the inner suburbs means that most new migrants buy their first homes in outer suburbs like Mernda. And in the City of Whittlesea almost fifty per cent of the residents are born overseas,” says Joseph.

“At the same time most outer suburbs lack public transportation and other infrastructure which makes it very difficult for the residents to travel long distances to attend festivals of this nature. Which is why it is important to have festivals like this in the outer suburban areas of Melbourne.”

The Mernda Diwali Festival of Lights is attempting to make it an eventful day for all ages, as it offer patrons a range of activities and events, all handpicked from everyday Indian culture.

Classic Indian food with on available from a number of food stalls located in the park, whilst still providing a BBQ and sausage sizzle.

For those that don’t just want eat but also enjoy some sights, some bright Indian Bollywood style dancers are also set to turn the heads of festival goers.

Traditional Henna artwork will also be on display, to help those who are new to the Indian culture to better visual and understand the meanings behind it.

With all these things and more on display, Mernda is attempting to make itself a very rich multicultural community, whilst also offering local residents a shorter distance to travel.

“The whole festival is themed on India; the live entertainment covers art and cultural traditions from all the different parts of India,” says Joseph.

“We have food stalls featuring different cuisines of India; the community market has stalls selling various jewellery and artefacts from India.

“This festival will take the patrons on a journey to India without leaving Mernda. We are confident that the patron will leave the festival with a greater appreciation of Indian culture.”

However, in the beginning the festival faced a number of obstacles, before officially being giving the green light.

“Planning and organising a festival of this nature was a logistical nightmare,” says Joseph.

“However we were fortunate that almost all the local businesses are backing the festival and City of Whittlesea has been very supportive of the festival.”

If the festival proves to be a success for the local community, MADMA are hoping it will become a yearly tradition and a staple on the Melbourne events calendar for Diwali celebrations.

Further details about the festival can be found here at:


1620977_10153865488675713_1532641493_nJoel Hargreaves is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is a editor for upstart. You can follow him on Twitter: @joelphargreaves


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