The Federal Parliament of Australia celebrated the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Annakut on 27 October 2014 in the presence of over 100 guests in its capital Canberra.
With the inspiration of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the highlight of the festivities was an Annakut display put up for the first time at the Federal Parliament by BAPS volunteers from Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.
The event attendees included The Hon Julie Bishop MP (Minister for Foreign Affairs), The Hon Bill Shorten MP (Leader of Opposition), His Excellency Shri Biren Nanda (High Commissioner for India), The Hon Chris Bowen MP (Shadow Treasurer), The Hon Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, The Hon Senator Zed Seselja, The Hon Michelle Rowland MP, The Hon Senator Lisa Singh and other 45 Members of Parliament. Among the other guests present were representatives from various different organizations from the Indian, Nepalese, Fijian and Mauritian communities.
The festivities began with the Deep Pragatya (lighting of the ceremonial lamp) and Vedic chanting. The event was hosted by the Hindu Council of Australia who acknowledged the presence and support of a large number of politicians and Indian community members.
Mr Sitesh Bhojani, BAPS Trustee, delivered the keynote address explaining the significance of Diwali and Annakut. On this inaugural Annakut event at the Federal Parliament he highlighted the origins and significance of Diwali and Annakut festivals to the wider multicultural Australian society.
Various different ministers and MPs conveyed their Diwali greetings and best wishes to the Indian community. There were very special remarks about importance and contributions to Australian economy and society by the Indian migrant community.
Hon Bill Shorten, His Excellency Mr Biren Nanda and Hon Julie Bishop made special mention of how Indian culture, festivals and close political ties between Australia and India is creating fantastic multicultural and mutually beneficial opportunities.
On this occasion some of the MPs and Senate members spoke highly of BAPS, its spirit of volunteerism and its Mandirs, including the magnificent Akshardham cultural complex, in their address to the congregation.
BAPS Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra mandal volunteers jointly organized this Annakut event with over 30 items. At the end of this special Diwali celebration event all the guests were presented with Annakut boxes containing prasad - consecrated sweet and savory delicacies.