Celebrate India a Victorian organization was the vision of 4 key members – Messer TJ Rao, Arun Sharma, Virendra Berera, and late Martand Joshi. The idea was to share the colour and richness of the Indian culture with the wider community of Victoria by celebrating the festival of lights – “Diwali”, the biggest festival of India in the heart of Melbourne. From the onset, Celebrate India was well supported by some very experienced and well known people such as Mr. George Lekakis Chairman of VMC, Mrs. Jaya Sharma Executive Producer of Indian Program, SBS Radio Melbourne, Hon. Hong Lim MP and the first Consul General of India in Melbourne, Mr. Butshikan Singh who gave their time and guidance to make this event a great success.
This vision took firm roots in Melbourne in 2006. The Diwali event of Celebrate India has been a great success right from the very start. Even in its first year, VIPs such as Lord Mayor John So, Chairman of Victorian Multicultural Commission, the Counsel General of India and many Victorian MPs such as Hon. Hong Lim, Nick Kotsiras & Marsha Thompson attended the event. The celebrations concluded with the longest (25 Minutes) and most spectacular fireworks at the Yarra.
The event also created history by adorning and the illumination of the major landmarks and iconic buildings such as the Victorian Parliament, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Town Hall, Federation Square, Royal Exhibition Building, Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral and SBS Radio for the first time ever for this Indian festival.
The Australia India Business Council (Vic) also joined in and organized a Diwali dinner at the RACV Club which was attended by many business and political leaders.
Even in the inaugural year, more than 25,000 people attended the daylong festivity. The success of the event continued in the following years.