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Vaisakhi Mela - Speech by the Hon. Mark Coure MP

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Dharug people of the Eora nation.

It is a great pleasure to join you today for a great outdoor celebration of Vaisakhi.

Hosted by the Panjabi Sangeet Centre, we can all enjoy some bhangra, a tug of war, and traditional games here in Blacktown. Unfortunately, the Premier was unable to be here tonight but, I am here representing him and the NSW Government.

Vaisakhi is a time of joy across the Punjab as farmers gather the first spring harvest and celebrate the New Year. Here, it also marks one of the most important times in the calendar for our state’s 32,000 Sikhs.

As you all know, Vaisakhi commemorates the year 1699, when the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, brought Sikhs together as a collective faith. He founded Khalsa Panth, or the order of the Pure Ones. This built a core community of committed followers, dedicated to the universal truths of the Sikh religion and community

Among the many values of the Sikh community are generosity, family, and a deepening sense of community. These values are shared by many people across New South Wales and they bind us all together to help make our state such a vibrant place to live.

I am sure we would all agree that the past two years have been incredibly tough. However, your values have been to the forefront during the height of the COVID pandemic.

Particularly when Sikhs opened their gurdwara to feed the most vulnerable in our society, including international students and asylum seekers. Your generosity of spirit sustained thousands of people across Sydney and New South Wales. When disaster strikes, you are always among the first responders.

Vaisakhi is a great opportunity to thank you - the Sikh community - for your continued contribution to our great multicultural state. To secure new opportunities for all who call NSW home, we are committed to harnessing the cultural diversity of the wonderful people who live here.

We want your language skills, your business and professional skills and your cultural understandings to make Sydney a truly international city. Punjabi is now the fastest-growing language in Australia, so it’s no surprise that Sikhism is also the fastest-growing religion, having grown by more than 500 per cent in the past 10 years.

Punjabi language classes are flourishing in six locations around Sydney, enabling younger generations of Australians to learn more about their rich history and culture. Now in New South Wales, Punjabi is being taught in kindergarten through to year 10 and the HSC, as of this year. Fantastic!

Learning a second language helps us understand the way other cultures do business, which allows us to be more competitive globally. More people speaking a second language also makes us a more attractive tourist destination. This is especially important now international borders have reopened.

Thanks to you all and the partnership between community and government, we have worked to emerge as even stronger as a society.

I want to thank you for your generosity and making a positive impact on our great multicultural story.

I wish you all a very happy Vaisakhi, and now let’s enjoy the dancing!