The Hindi and Punjabi languages have officially become two of the most commonly spoken languages, after English, in Australia and the community has been out in force to celebrate.
More than a thousand people took to the streets of central Perth to celebrate Indian Independence Day last Sunday.
The Indian national holiday recognises the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Indian population and the use of Indian languages have significantly grown in Australia, with a 55 per cent increase in Hindi and an 80 per cent increase in Punjabi over the last 5 years.
The parade on Sunday was the third Independence Day celebration in Perth. Organised by the Indian Society WA, it featured more than 45 different groups from India’s diverse communities.
ISWA secretary Deepak Sharma says he is incredibly proud of the work the organisation is doing to support and develop Indian culture in WA.
“It was so vibrant and colourful, such a wonderful and memorable event,” he says.
More than 1000 participants paraded through the CBD before ending with a ceremony in the Supreme Court Gardens.
“There was representation from every state in India. India is very multicultural with different traditions, different cultures, different languages, and different religions and we were all there to embrace it,” Mr Sharma says.
Whilst there are many languages spoken in India, Hindi has become a ‘blanket language’, meaning most Indians can speak or understand it.
Community leader Hameed Mohammad says Hindi is a ‘blanket language’, commonly spoken between people from different cultures and regions of India, along with each region’s mother tongue.
“We need to enrich and supplement Indian languages such as Hindi within Australia, which can be done by teaching them in school settings or providing tutorials,” he says.
Mr Mohammad says Indian Independence Day has become very important to the local community.
“We won’t forget our culture. Culture is key,” he says.
“We have a significant majority of Indians in Western Australia and even though we are all from different places in the country, we always remember our Independence Day.”
Perth city councillor Sandy Anghie, Multicultural Interests Minister Tony Buti, Liberal Party leader Libby Mettam, Perth Mayor Basil Zempilas, and the Consulate General of India attended the event.
Sandy Anghie says the India Day Parade was an insight into the multiculturalism of Perth, which needs to be celebrated more.
“There were amazing traditional Indian dresses with music and singing. It’s events like this that really bring our city to colour and life,” she says.
“It was just beautiful. It really gave a glimpse into the rich traditions of India that we are lucky enough to experience here.”