'Desi Fiesta' Commemorating Australia Day and Indian Republic Day

The Federation of Indian Origin Multi-Faith Organisations Inc (FIMO) and Musuem India hosted its annual festival commemorating Australia Day and Indian Republic Day. ‘Desi Fiesta’ was held on the 5th of February, 2017 at ‘Settler’s Square’, Little India, Dandenong. The event was funded by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Amani Lawyers; and was supported by the Confederation of Indian Associations Australia, Federation of Indian Music and Dance Victoria, and Federation of Indian Associations Victoria. In attendance were Dandenong Mayor Cr Jim Memeti, Hon. Bruce Atkinson MP representing the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Indian Consular General Manika Jain and City of Casey Councillor Damien Rosario. Several organisational heads and representatives were in attendance from organisations such as Jewish Community Council Victoria, Glen Eira Interfaith Network, Casey Multi-Faith Network, Chinese Museum, Cultural Historical Association of Mauritians and Rodrigans, Federation of South Sudanese Association, Southern Migrant Refugee Centre, Sant Nirankari Mission, Ayyappan Seva Sangam, Global Organisation for Divinity, Vaishnav Sangh of Melbourne, Hare Krishna, UMMA Mosque and Community Centre, Sivathondan Nilayam, Liberal Catholic Church, Caro Centre, Art of Vinyasa Yoga and Dance Studio, Indo-Ceylon Spices,  Amani Lawyers and Migration Agents, Libas Indian Clothing Store, Shalimar’s Indian Café, Gokunte Charity, Niki’s Henna Designs, Nirmit, Baba Entertainment, Hindu Society Victoria, Vakrathunda Vinayagar Temple, BAPS, Navaratna Arts, AMMA Australia, Carnatic Music Circle, Victorian Refugee Women’s Coalition, Bikaner’s Indian Restaurant, OZ Migration Agents, Imperial College, Friends of the Children’s Foundation and Tandoori Junction.

Subbu Sangameswaran (G.O.D, FIMO Treasurer), Federation of South Sudanese Association Victoria, Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer), Bilal Amani (Owner Amani Lawyers and Migration Agents) and Brian Oates (Chairperson Southern Migrant Refugee Centre)

The evening begun with Nagar Sangeet (town music) procession down Little India by the Global Organisation for Divinity, which sought to spread auspiciousness and blessings to the newly announced Indian precinct. The welcome address was offered by FIMO President Paramjit Jaswal, followed by speeches by Dr Dinesh Parekh (Museum India), Mayor Cr Jim Memeti, Hon Bruce Atkinson MP and Indian Consular General Manika Jain and Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer). Dr Dinesh Parekh informed the community of Museum India’s bleak future due to lack of government support and requested the government to prioritise funding the museum and warned the museum may cease operation in the near future. Several stalls were available for the community to which many faith organisations and Little India traders had contributed. Performances for the evening included a vocal rendition of Vande Mataram and the Indian National song by Hari Vrndavn Sivanesan, Australian national anthem and Bharatanatyam performance by Art of Vinyasa, Rajasthani folk dance by Vaishnav Sangh, Sufi and Punjabi folk music by Surinder Sagar and Hari Naam Kirtan by Hare KrishnaThe Master of Ceremonies was Abinaya Srinivasan.

Global Organisation for Divinity Nagar Sangeet Procession

The main highlights of the festival were the launch of Mr Dya Singh’s book ‘Sikhing Success and Happiness’, FIMO Community Service Honours and Course Completion certificates given to those that had completed the Spiritual Care Volunteer Training through FIMO.

In ‘Sikhing Success and Happines’ Dya Singh has attempted to explore, within his background life philosophy, Sikhism, pointers in self-improvement, progress in life and the pursuit of happiness. 

Upendra Shah (President Vaishnav Sangh of Melbourne, FIMO Vice President), Chinese Museum, Paramjit Jaswal (FIMO President), Subbu Sangameswaran (FIMO Treasurer, G.O.D), Cr and Deputy Mayor Damien Rosario (Rivergum Ward City of Casey), Bruce Atkinson MP (Eastern Metropolitan Region), Manika Jain (Indian Consular General), Mayor Cr Jim Memeti (City of Greater Dandenong), Dya Singh, Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer), Karan Gandok (Tandoor Junction, FIMO Board Member), Dr Dinesh Parekh (Artistic Director Museum India). Vasan Srinivasan (FIMO Trustee, CIAA Chair), Chinese Museum

As a peak body, FIMO established the Community Service Honours awards system this year to acknowledge a number of people that work tirelessly for the betterment of the Indian community and have worked closely with FIMO. Dr Dinesh Parekh and James Waterson from the Victorian Multicultural Liaison Unit were selected for the honours.

Dr Dinesh Parekh (Museum India), Paramjit Jaswal (FIMO President) and Vasan Srinivasan (FIMO Trustee, CIAA Chair)

Dr Dinesh Parekh was acknowledged for working closely with FIMO on a number of events by developing exhibits – namely the Nepal Prayer to Actions fundraiser where he put together an exquisite multi-faith exhibit, which still draws crowds today; he has engaged a number of individuals in his work and provided his lifelong artistic collections for the benefit of the Indian community at Museum India (the only known Indian Museum outside of India), which has helped build awareness of Indian culture and history in the community. Dr Parekh’s contribution to the community has been immeasurable.


James Waterson from Victoria Police’s Multicultural Liaison Unit was selected for his engagement with FIMO since 2015, in this time he has contributed to the Interfaith Guide project; supported FIMO initiatives such as the ‘Feed the Needy’ project, Interfaith Issues Forum, Emergency First Response training; and has helped increase FIMO’s outreach potential by providing opportunities for FIMO to engage with the Multicultural Liaison unit to bring better outcomes for Women and Youth. James’ interaction with the community has been positive and empowering.

Nand Dureja and Suria Naidoo were acknowledged for their commitment and passion in serving the community and completing their Spiritual Care Volunteer training. This training was delivered by facilitators Gabbi Sar-Shalom and Bhakta Dasa who were trained to facilitate by Spiritual Health Victoria.

Suria Naidoo, Nand Dureja and Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer)

The event concluded with an Indian dinner served for all attendees prepared by the Tandoori Junction.

This year’s festival engaged many youth and various cultural communities. Crowds stayed on despite a weather change mid-way through the event, which brought heavy showers. This is a testament to the success of FIMO and Museum India’s work in the community and in the Indian precinct.


Mayor Cr Jim Memeti (City of Greater Dandenong) and Upendra Shah (President The Vaishnav Sangh of Melbourne, FIMO Vice President)

Community standing for the National anthems

Pam Mamounis (Casey Multi-Faith Network), Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer) and Naureen Choudhry (Casey Multi-Faith Network)


Revati Ilanko | Executive Officer