Community standing together in solidarity for India
BRISBANE, in a move of solidarity Queensland Indian Community came together for a candlelight Vigil in support of many lives lost and for thousands still suffering as a result of the deadly reemergence of covid 19 in India. Hospitals are full, beds are not available, oxygen is in short supply, and all these paints a grim but true picture. While the immediate supply of oxygen and other medical equipment was the call of the day, coming together and standing together in prayers was equally important, that is exactly what this vigil was aimed at doing. For such a somber event to be successful it needs to be inclusive in nature, and this can be challenging especially when you have less then 72 hours to deliver the event and you are dealing with multiple organizations.
Umesh Chandra OAM was chosen to coordinate and facilitate the event, with GOPIO Queensland, GOPIO Gold Coast, FICQ, AIBC, Gandhi Salt March Limited, Meri Hindi, IMAQ and Brisbane City Council. Despite the short notice the turnout was encouraging, and the media coverage was good, Lord Mayor Adrian Schinner was overly impressed and pledged $10,000-00 donation for the victims via Indian Red Cross, at the next council meeting in the chambers he made a special mention of the event. So, while the primary purpose was not fundraising, the event contributed $10,000-00 towards the relief efforts.
The event began with the tradition welcome to country by Aunty Betty McGrady, indigenous Elder representing Queensland Multicultural Council, this was followed by the delightful rendition of Australian and Indian National Anthem by students of Sargam Music Academy under the tutelage of Mithun and Bondita Chakraborty, this was followed by the welcome address by Umesh Chandra OAM following is the extract from his speech.
“Thank you. It is good to see so many gathered here in the embrace of community.
Something life transforming has happened to us. Ordinary words fail us. Yet it is impossible to remain mute ...so I offer these thoughts of outreach as we assemble together....
This candlelight vigil is, for India as we stand united in solidarity to show our support, a remembrance of others - so many others. Our candles soon to be lit — bright and flaming, yet small and all too extinguishable — will burn this wonderful autumn evening, with many emotions:
There is sadness and grief at the loss we feel - so shocking in its horror, so great in its numbers, and so gripping in its connection to each of us.
This is a time of wanting to be able to reach out, to do something - to relieve the hurt of those afflicted.
There is admiration for the breathtaking courage of men and women caught up in the middle of this terror. The courage of frontline workers and medical staff who did their duty, and in so doing lost their lives.
And now the courage of those who lost friends, loved ones, family, as they struggle through the long, aching and all-consuming moments that have become the present measure of their lives.
For many of us, perhaps most of us, there is the awakened sense of personal vulnerability -
Now we all live in a different place with a different sense of vulnerability, a diminished sense of security and the frightening knowledge of a world pandemic
And while so many innocent lives were lost, that we recognize that the daily dangers of the rest of the world are our dangers also now...
These deaths also are so unsettling, reminding us, as it does, of both our personal and our national insecurity.
There is a sense we all share, not only of the horror and tragedy of the past days, but of something new and frightening - something that may not have touched most of us directly, but that we sense could touch us all. It is new, it is deadly, it is random and it lives in the dark shadows of anonymity.
Today, right now, we can give this personal vow in tribute to those whose lives were so cruelly cut short.
Today we can choose, in the light of what our candles mean, to take another's hand, lift another's burden or simply acknowledge another's worth.
Today we can newly consider that word "love." Not the possession of a single religious belief. Not a cheap nor a shallow emotion debased by commercialism and popular entertainment, but the most risky, profound, yet fragile glue of our common humanity.
Love illuminates the often-hidden paths of who we are. It finds ways for our paths to connect with the paths of others, and it allows us to - live - not alone, but with others.
Even today, that wonderful aim - "hoping to do a little good," can guide us through and beyond the smoke and dangers of today.
This also is a time to call again for moral clarity. A time for us not to be ashamed of our values. A time to understand even more clearly what we believe ... and proudly to affirm, live and act upon those beliefs.”
He also went through the long list of dignitaries present, he thanked all the supporting organizations, After His address Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner spoke and announced the donation of $10,000-00 to Indian Red Cross, the announcement was well received and applauded, Lady Mayoress Nina Schrinner was also in attendance and was acknowledged as the patron of GOPIO Queensland Women’s Council,
After Lord Mayor’s speech, Honorary Counsel for India in Queensland, Mrs. Archana Singh addressed the gathering, she was particularly pleased to see the united front. After her address, the faith representatives lead everyone into prayers, Swami Atmeshananda represented Hindu Faith, Ali Kadri represented Islamic Faith, Parminder Singh represented Sikh faith and community and Pastor John Thomas represented Christian Community. The concluding speech/remarks was by Dr Vikas Mudgill of IMAQ on behalf of the frontline workers who have been braving the situation and assisting everyone in the crisis.
We would like to place on record the assistance of Megan Tolhurst, Julie MacIntosh, Trish Levey and the ground staff of Brisbane city Council for making this happen, we had the City hall Lighted in Indian Colors and the flag of India was displayed on the large screen, Brisbane Indian Times for the poster design and promotion, Australian Indian Radio for the sound, staging and promo, GOPIO Queensland for providing Water, small flags, placards, led tealight candles, ushering VIPS etc. Dev from Narula Photo and Video production and many organizations and individuals who shared and promoted the event on social media platforms. It was so good to see so many people take ownership of the event on social media, lord Mayor was every popular for photographs and selfies. Overall a well-organized and attended function, impressive and respectful gathering in the spirit of unity. On behalf of all supporting organizations my sincere thanks to all attended and supported in any which way.