Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has greeted over 4,50,000 Indians living in the country on Diwali and praised their role during World War I.
“Happy Diwali. It is a time to enjoy good food and entertainment, and to celebrate the bonds we share with family and friends. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Diwali – the triumph of light over darkness,” Abbott wished.
Highlighting the role of Indians in Gallipoli in the First World War, he said,”In periods of conflict and uncertainty, Australians and Indians have worked, fought and sacrificed together.
“Our men served side by side at Gallipoli in the First World War,” Abbott said, adding “In the Second World War, they endured extreme hardship after the fall of Singapore.”
The Australian leader concluded his first official two-day visit to India in September.
Australian landmarks, including Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Airport and several other official buildings were lit up for Diwali celebrations. The celebrations kicked a week in advance with Indian diaspora organising several special events of music and dance and gala dinners across the country.
In Melbourne, a group of Indians attended a special Diwali event held at the Victorian Parliament recently.
Day-long functions of music and dance and fireworks were held in suburbs of Sandown and Werribee which were attended by thousands of Indians during the week.
Victorian Labour Party leader Daniel Andrews said, “I offer my best wishes to members of Victoria’s Indian community. This festival has become a symbol of unity, strength, prosperity, hope and at Fed Square will again be the largest festival of its kind in Australia.”
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said, “Diwali truly is one of the principal religious observances in our diverse community as you come together in prayer and reflection.”
New South Wales premier Mike Baird, who announced lighting up the Sydney Opera House for the first time to mark Diwali celebrations, said, “This festival has been embraced by Australians of all backgrounds and is one of many cultural and religious celebrations that take place every year across NSW.”
Others who wished were Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and Shadow minister for Infrastructure and transport Anthony Albanese.