By Dr Indrani Ganguly, Public Relations Officer, FICQ
WITH the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland Inc. (FICQ) reaching its twentieth year of existence, it was timely to chart new directions during its annual Diwali celebrations at King George Square. This year FICQ hosted its first Citizenship Ceremony with the full support of the Queensland branch of the Department of Immigration and Border Support (DIBP) – a first in Queensland. Forty candidates from diverse backgrounds and ages, braved the blistering Brisbane summer heat to take their vows, receive their certificates, DIBF, and become part of the great Australian family.
The morning ceremonies began with Aunty Delmae Barton offering the acknowledgement of country and the ceremonial lighting of the lamp by key dignitaries including Councillor Angela Owen, Chair of the Brisbane City Council, Councillor Peter Cumming, Leader of the Opposition, Brisbane City Council, Councillor for the Gabba Ward Mr Jonathan Sri, Mr Wayne Briscoe, Executive Director, Multicultural Affairs Queendland and Mr Steve Biddle, Executive Director Department of Immigration and Border Support (DIBF).
Mr Briscoe released the Diwali Souvenir 2017, which has this year featured articles on all the celebrations of all the major Indian communities – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Christians and Parsis as part of spreading the message of unity in diversity.
Councillor Sri demonstrated his keenness to be proactive through negotiating with the Council to provide some large sunshades and relief for some of the participants.
The citizenship ceremony went like a dream, with everything running on time. Mr Palani Thevar, President of FICQ, officially welcomed all the guests. The dignatories who spoke were unanimous in their messages – new migrants were welcome and the importance of working together in harmony.
Mr Biddle who was the Presiding Officer, read the Preamble and administered the Pledge of Commitment to the conferees. After receiving the citizenship certificates, the conferees echoed the Australian Affirmation and joined in a stirring rendition of the Australian National Anthem. The ceremony concluded with a delicious morning tea comprising that quintessential Australian sweet – lamingtons!- sandwiches and other savoury and sweet delicacies. Those who wished to top it up went to the many stalls offering delicious Indian snacks and meals.
The afternoon continued with a smorgasbord of cultural items, ably compered by Mr Ali Kadri, spokesperson of Islamic Council of Queensland, Mr Navin Kumar and Mr Raja Rajan. The Hon Grace Grace, MP, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, paid an impromptu afternoon visit. A late afternoon storm, marked by the thunder and lightning typical of Brisbane storms interrupted the proceedings only briefly.
Dignitaries and guests were greeted by the Damini Women’s Association and then treated to afternoon high tea featuring Gujarati cuisine before being led by the colourful drummers from Kerala to the main stage for the evening’s proceedings, this time compered by the ABC Brisbane journalist Feeney Katherine.
Mr Palani Thevar gave the welcome speech, emphasizing the strategic importance of FICQ and how it had grown from strength to strength through establishing ties with all levels government, the non-government and private sectors and the different Indian communities. He also thanked all those who had rallied to support the family, friends and community of Manmeet Alishar whose young life had been cut so tragically short less than a year ago.
The distinguished speakers included the Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, Premier of Queensland, His Excellency Dr A.M. Gondane, High Commissioner of India, Mr Trevor Evans, representative of Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull MP, Mr Tim Nicholls MP, Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor Brisbane City Council, Ms Terri Butler MP representative for Mr Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader, and Mr Ian Stewart, Queensland Police Commissioner. All spoke of the importance of ties between Queensland and India and the contributions of Indians. Mr Nikhil Reddy, the FICQ Secretary the delivered vote of thanks.
As always the speeches were interspersed with a wide range of classical, folk and Bollywood dances which delighted spectators with their dazzling costumes, scintillating music and energy. The evening ended with the Baba’s Band. It was very heartening for the FICQ committee to see that though available seats filled very quickly and there was standing room only, the audience persevered till the very end.
In conclusion, the FICQ committee would like to extend their thanks to the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council for its great support to multicultural activities and also helping to celebrate celebrating Diwali function in the heart of the city by bringing all communities together, all other local governments and councils such as Ipswich, Logan ABC Brisbane for its live broadcasting from the festival ground, SBS, and Radio 4EB and over 36 FICQ Member organisations and volunteers for their engagement and the sponsors of the event: Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council, Springfield Land Corporation, Multicultural Association of Queensland, Red Cross, Brisbane Indian Times and ABC Brisbane Radio as media partners and, Singapore Airlines and Target Travels as Travel Partners, National Australia Bank, Brisbane Lawyers to make this FICQ Diwali event even more successful than before.
FICQ would also like to thank Secure Parking which provided a special deal for Diwali parking and promotion and the volunteers who provided invaluable support to the Executive Committee.
FICQ will continue to pray that all Australians will light both their inner and outer lights at Diwali, and work in unison to prevent harm to any by design or accident so that Australia comes out shining as an even brighter and more prosperous multicultural country, showing the way to the world.
Check out FICQ’s Facebook page to check out the lighting of the Brisbane City Hall and some lively live commentary https://www.facebook.com/FICQInc/videos/1534539983273577/
If you wish to get more information about FICQ please contact Mr Palani Thevar President on 0421 656 000 and do look up the website http://ficq.org.au
Note: The other members of the Committee are: Vice President 1 Dr Ram Mohan, Vice President 2 Mrs Prakruthi M. Gururaj, Secretary – Nikhil Reddy, Treasurer – Mr Anjaneya Reddy, Public Relations Officer Dr Indrani Ganguly, Assistant Secretary Mr Parminder Singh, Festival Coordinator Mr Navin Kumar, Cultural Coordinator – Dr Preethi Suraj and Assistant-Treasurer Mr Anoop Nannuru.