15,000 strong crowd adds colour to Holi Fest 2015
Celebrations at Wyndham’s Werribee Race Course one of the largest ever in Victoria.
Holi Fest 2015, organised by Festivals of South Asia, on 7 March, saw one of the largest ever Holi celebrations in Victoria. With over 15,000 attendees turning Wyndham’s Werribee Race Course into a fun-filled atmosphere of colours, music and dance, the event organisers were caught by surprised with the response they received this year.
The gates opened at 11 AM, and the crowds thronged to the venue in thousands stretching the food vendors to their limits. “By 1 PM we had more than 5000 people at the venue. We expected only that many people, but according to the local press and police we clocked more than 15,000 people on the day. We had to bring in additional security to manage the unexpected crowd,” said Hari Yellina, secretary of Festivals of South Asia Inc.
The event was supported by Overseas Friends of BharatiyaJanata Party, Gymkhana Club of Point Cook, Patel Samaj of Wyndham and The Indian Sun. The festival saw numerous culturally significant rituals organised by OFBJP volunteers at the venue. HoliKaDahanorganised by OFBJP kicked started the official proceedings at 12.30 PM. HoliKaDahan was attended by Hari Yellina, SarikaPrakash, Ashwin Bora and VijethShetty (OFBJP) and SudheerJuneja (Western Gymkhana). Entertainment for the day was provided by DJ Arya.
“I must say that the scientology volunteers, who came out in large numbers, were a big help. Their personal interest in a Hindu festival was overwhelming. This not only shows their secular credentials, but it shows how various groups from different faiths can work together,” Yellina added.
After the HoliKaDahan ritual, a rathayatra procession was taken out by ISKON members. More than 400 members led the procession through Werribee Race Course with ISKON members breaking into spiritual hymns through the dancing crowds. The scenes from the race course were truly magical with devotees throwing colour in the air.
Dignitaries and prominent guests, including president of Festivals of South Asia Sari Prakash, were called on stage by Australian Centre for Human Rights and Health Manjula O Connor to take the White Ribbon Oath against domestic violence. Cr Gupta praised the Hindu community for championing the fight against domestic violence. Cr Gupta said: “Domestic violence is a global menace. I’m proud that my community is leading the fight against this menace in Australia.”
Event organisers began official proceedings at 2.30 PM, when Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas welcomed the crowd. Pallas reiterated the Victorian Labor’s commitment of developing an Indian cultural precinct in the State. Other dignitaries who attended the function were Federal MP from Gellibrand Tim Watts, Federal MP for Lalor Joanne Ryan, Colleen Hartland, Wyndham Mayor Peter Maynard and Wyndham Councillors Cr Gautam Gupta and Cr Intaaj Khan.