Kashmiri Pandits Celebrate Shivratri in Melbourne

Melbourne: Members of the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Association (KPCA) celebrated the festival of Shivratri on
Sunday, March 13 at Mount Martha’s Community House – a beautiful venue overlooking the bay.
Shivratri is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus worldwide, but has a special importance for
Kashmiri Pandits because in the Shaivism tradition followed by most of them , Shiva is regarded as
the supreme God among the Grand Trinity of Hindu Deities.

Those present at the celebrations in Mount Martha included Mr Vasan Srinivasan and Mrs Krishna
Arora of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV), Mr Rakesh Kawra, Vice Consul of
the Indian Consulate General, and Sister Margaret Carmel McFaull, OAM – a prominent member of
the local community.

In her welcome address, Anjali Tikoo, the current President of KPCA, said that while those kashmiri
Pandits who had made Melbourne their adopted home, had integrated well into the multicultural
society to which they now belonged, they had not forgotten how important it was for them to
remain connected with their kashmiri roots.

The celebration began with community prayers in praise of Lord Shiva, followed by a sumptuous
feast of at least a dozen dishes, all cooked in the traditional Kashmiri style.

There are several legends surrounding the festival of Shivratri and several ways in which it is
celebrated. Four beautiful children took turns narrating how the festival was celebrated in Kashmir,
highlighting the traditions and rituals which were uniquely Kashmiri. All present were visibly moved
by the involvement of children, all of whom were born after the community had been forced out of
Kashmir.

This was followed by devotional music, and a “Ruf” dance – the most famous dance form in
Kashmir, which is normally a welcoming song for the spring season but is performed on other happy
occasions as well.

And then the final and the liveliest part of the programme: a quiz focussing on the history and
culture of Kashmir.

- Matter supplied

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