Springvale Town Hall, Springvale, VIC
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a delight and privilege to join you for this wonderful Onam celebration.
I thank the Sree Narayana Mission Melbourne committee for the kind invitation, in particular:
- President, Manoj Kumar;
- Secretary, Smitha Arun;
- Vice President, Hari Mukkonamparampil;
- Treasurer, Bini Syam;
- Joint Secretary, Meera Prasad;
- And members:
- Rishi Thotath;
- Harindran Alakandi; and
- Deepak Anand Pachain.
I would also like to acknowledge:
- The Honourable Brad Battin MP—Member for Gembrook and Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Youth Justice, Crime Prevention and Victim Support;
- City of Casey representatives:
- Mayor Amanda Stapledon
- Councillor Damien Rosario, and
- Councillor Wayne Smith; and
- Tara Rajkumar OAM—Director of the Natya Sudha Dance Company and School.
As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, it is truly a pleasure to attend this event.
Firstly, I would like to mention the work of the Sree Narayana Mission Melbourne—the organisers of this event. Although the organisation is quite young—only six years since it was officially formed—it has made its presence felt among the Melbourne community.
It is a reflection of the hard work of the committee and registered members that the Mission has had such an impact in such a short time.
The Mission is, of course, named for Sree Narayana Guru whose philosophy and teachings focused on the unity of all mankind, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
This is evident in the Mission’s work, and I congratulate the Mission for its initiative in providing education, cultural, and social support and assistance across the Australian community—especially to those in greatest need.
The mission’s values sit comfortably alongside Australian values—freedom, the rule of law, democracy, and the firm belief that all people are equal, regardless of their cultural background, gender, race or religion. Such values inspire respect, community spirit, and a willingness to lend a hand to others.
I am proud of the fact that, in this country, we respect and embrace the rights of all Australians to practise, celebrate and maintain their cultural and religious traditions, within the law.
Our nation has long stood as a fine example of a country comprising people of different faiths and cultures who live together in harmony.
Australia is made up of diverse groups of people with differing cultures, experience, beliefs, and traditions—hailing from all over the globe—coming together to prosper.
We owe our accomplishments to the contributions of more than 300 ancestries—from the First Australians to the newest arrivals.
Indian Australians have been a part of the Australian community since the 1800s.
Today, around 700,000 people of Indian ancestry, including Malayalee, call Australia home, of which more than 230,000 live in Victoria. More than 50,000 people in Australia speak Malayalam at home, of which almost 17,000 live in Victoria.
In 2017-18, India was the largest source country of new permanent migrants to Australia.
And it is pleasing to see that over the last six years, more than 135,000 Indian nationals have taken the pledge to become valued Australian citizens.
Indian Australians contribute across all facets of Australian life—helping to ensure we continue to be one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world.
Today we celebrate the Indian tradition of Onam, which originated in the Kerala state.
It is a celebration of the bounty of nature, and marks the homecoming of the Asura king Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
Importantly, these celebrations provide an opportunity for the community to share in the food, dance, music, games, traditional costumes, flowers and more that exemplify Kerala’s rich and vibrant culture.
At the heart of Onam, is community, togetherness, generosity of spirit and righteousness. It is a time to unite and celebrate in harmony and friendship.
I thank the Sree Narayana Mission of Melbourne for organising the Mega Onam and sharing this colourful Indian tradition with the wider Australian community. I wish you every success with your celebrations.
Thank you for having me here today.