“We are one, we are many and from all the lands on earth we come”.
The familiar words from the song originally written by Bruce Woodley of the Seekers and Dobe Newton of the Bushwackers, give Dr Sunita Dhindsa, from the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT (FINACT) goosebumps every time she hears them.
And on April 11, they’ll ring out across Glebe Park as the 29 member organisations in the Federation come together for a long delayed Harmony Day celebration.
Dr Dhindsa, who is FINACT’s president, says the event is “an opportunity to connect us all together from within the Indian diaspora. We are networking not only with community leaders – diplomats and politicians – but also with people from other faiths, backgrounds and organisations”.
There’s a particular focus on the nations of the Indian subcontinent and the intention for the day is to break down silos and create networks that foster cohesion and inclusion in the community among invited guests.
Inevitably there will be food.
“You can’t function without that,” Dr Dhindsa laughs, but the program for the day is simple – a couple of songs together, information about the many organisations in the local community and a chance to make connections.
“This event won’t be too big or elaborate – it’s really all about harmony and love for each other,” Dr Dhindsa said.
“The day’s theme is Everyone Belongs.”
Previous events were cancelled due to COVID restrictions but FINACT, which represents around 15,000 people around the region as an umbrella organisation, was keen to bring the community together as soon as it became practical to do so.
The community also includes residents who have migrated from other countries like Fiji, Singapore, Mauritius, Malaysia, South Africa, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
FINACT is a not-for-profit community organisation with the motto of ‘Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration’, and is run by volunteers.
It works closely with the federal and the ACT government on welfare, social and economic matters for all Australians, with a particular focus on the Indian diaspora.
Each year FINACT presents an annual AusIndia Fair in March in association with the High Commission of India and the ACT Government. It’s the biggest event in the ACT dedicated to Australia and India and promotes a holistic India showcasing the connections between Australia and India.
But during the pandemic, managing an event with many thousands of attendees became impossible and Dr Dhindsa said the smaller event was the more manageable option for the extended community.
“We are all one, that’s the key message,” Dr Dhindsa said.
“This will be our first public event after a very long time and we are so excited about it.”
FINACT’S Harmony Day Celebrations will be held in Glebe Park on Sunday 11 April from noon, by invitation to community groups within the FINACT umbrella.