Popular festival only growing stronger in 10th year
THE DIWALI Festival brings back cherished memories for Rajesh Sharma of family, friends, food and firecrackers.
The 10th iteration of the Ipswich festival of lights will be held next month outside his Indian Mehfil restaurant.
Growing up in the tiny farming village of Bathra, Mr Sharma recalls the joy that came along with Diwali every year.
After venturing together to the city to buy new clothes, family, friends and the wider community gather to eat and celebrate well into the night.
"If you looked up in the sky, there would be firecrackers going off everywhere," he laughed.
"We didn't sleep. It was one of the best days of the year. There's a lot of great memories."
Mr Sharma introduced the festival to Ipswich a decade ago and said he was surprised by how it was embraced by the wider community.
Food from across India, many of it not normally on Mehfil's menu, is served and traditional dancers and live music provide the entertainment.
All profits made on the day are donated to charity.
"With the help of the community it has gotten bigger and better every year," he said.
"It's one night we can focus on the good things as a community we do."
He admitted the festival made him miss his family back home and it was a feeling shared by many of his staff, with workers from his Brisbane restaurants coming out for the occasion.
"On the day we miss our parents and miss our family... this becomes our family," he said.
"We do miss our mums and dads but on that day a celebration like this brings us all together."'
Mr Sharma said he had watched over the past decade as Ipswich's migrant communities had grown, particuarlly in Springfield.
"We are a diverse city now and it's good to be part of that," he said.
"It's not just the Indian community, a lot of other communities have come."
About 250 have booked in already with Mr Sharma expecting between 400-500 on the day.
Bookings are essential for the event to be held on October 20 from 4-9pm.
Phone 32818683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.