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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (17 November) . .

Page.. 4079..


victory of good over evil as well as the beginning of the Hindu new year. Diwali traditions include people cleaning and decorating their homes as well as buying new clothes and gifts for their family and friends. In many regions of India, Diwali is a five-day festival.

Diwali celebrations have been taking place in Canberra for many years and the Diwali Mela celebration has been taking place since 2003. The festival is supported by all the community organisations of Indian cultural background in the ACT. This year's Diwali Mela was held at the Albert Hall and Lennox Gardens. The celebration was expanded this year to include a "celebrate Diwali in the city" event in Garema Place. The celebration in Garema Place allowed even more people in the ACT to try Diwali sweets and join in the celebrations.

The theme of this year's celebration was "unite and celebrate". The celebration was a day-long festival that culminated with grand fireworks. There were many performances from Indian community organisations and individual artists. There were also many food, craft and competition stalls. I very much enjoyed the festivities, including witnessing the hotly contested cooking competition, and I happily sampled the entrants' cooking.

I would like to congratulate all of those involved with Diwali Mela, and particularly chairman Krishan Aggarwal. I would also like to thank Lucky Prasad, Thamotharan Sritharan, Prathibha Nagabhushan, Arun Venkatesha and Surender Sharma, as well as the large number of volunteers who helped out. I encourage all members to attend next year's Diwali celebration and to visit the Diwali Mela website at diwali.wonderwebworks.com.au.

Returned and Services League

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (6.07): There are RSL branches and sub-branches throughout Canberra, including Barton-Capital, Belconnen, Campbell-Russell, City of Canberra, Hellenic, Gungahlin, Peacekeepers, Vietnamese, Woden Valley and Tuggeranong.

The Australian Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, which was the forerunner to the RSL, first sold poppies for Armistice Day in 1921. In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice, which was 11 November 1993, Remembrance Day ceremonies became the focus of national attention. On that day the remains of an unknown Australian soldier exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France was ceremonially entombed at the Australian War Memorial. This ceremony touched a chord across Australia and re-established Remembrance Day as a significant day of commemoration, as it remains today.

This year I was pleased to volunteer for the Tuggeranong RSL sub-branch to sell poppies, which raises funds for the very important programs of the RSL. They run them to support our veterans and their families, to provide wellbeing, care, compensation and the commemoration of serving and ex-serving Defence Force personnel and their dependants. Coming from a military family myself, I am well aware of the work that the RSL do and have done for many years.


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