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Tea-lights, sweets and frangipanis for Hindu festival

Tea-light candles and frangipani flowers decorated the entrance to Redfern Community Centre on November 9 when about 100 people attended a celebration of the Festival of Lights – Deepavali reports the December 2007 edition of the South Sydney Herald.

The festival celebrated by Hindus marks the triumph of good over evil and comes after a period when the Hindu Goddess is invoked. Legend has it that on Deepavali day the citizens of the ancient city of Ayodhya welcomed back their King Rama after 14 years of exile in the forest and the defeat of the demon Ravana in battle. The hero of the Indian epic returned at dusk in triumph with his beautiful wife Sita.

This also is the day that the Goddess Lakshmi is thought to visit the homes of Hindus, who prepare for her arrival by taking an oil bath in the morning and opening their homes to guests who are treated to delicious festive treats and sweets.

The free show was organised by Nayika Indian Dance for the local community, who were treated not only to the lamps and traditional Deepavali sweets, but also classical Indian dances performed by students and friends of Nayika Indian Dance. The students letterboxed streets in Redfern, Darlington and Chippendale. Dancing by the spectators ended the evening.

Local resident Vimala Sarma, Artistic Director of Nayika, is a frequent user of the space at the centre practicing her routines. She has been invited to perform in India at the Chennai dance festival. She said that though Nayika Indian Dance is a small organisation, it is a significant player in the Asian arts cultural scene as it puts on quality performances to make such cultural experiences accessible in the inner city.

The next performance will be the 'Lotus & Phoenix II', on February 23 2008, 7.30pm at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as part of the City of Sydney Chinese New Year Festival. Versatile musicians of the Sydney Sizhu Ensemble led by Tony Wheeler, and Vimala Sarma, will celebrate Chinese New Year in a unique concert featuring Chinese traditional music and classical Indian dances inspired by the symbolism of the lotus and phoenix. The lotus is a symbol of purity and beauty in both Chinese and Indian cultures. 

This show provides an opportunity for Chinese traditional music-lovers to hear Chen Hong Yu, an inspirational vocal artist. The Indian classical dances featured will include pieces by Vimala from the festival in Chennai.

Photo: Caity Burridge: A Nayika Indian dancer at the Redfern Community Centre

Source: South Sydney Herald December 2007