Campbelltown councillor opposes plans for Hindus to hold Diwali Festival at Thorndon Park

Th Punjabi Association of SA has asked Campbelltown Council to use Thorndon Park for theiThe Punjabi Association of SA has asked Campbelltown Council to use Thorndon Park for their Diwali Festival in October. Dancers Amandeep Chugha (male) and Kirandeep Birdi.

A BID by the Hindu community to hold a festival in Thorndon Park should be rejected because the Punjabi association is not from the local area, a Campbelltown councillor says.

Cr Max Amber told a council meeting last week that the Diwali festival organisers should look elsewhere because Thorndon Park was a local park and its pavilion should be reserved for local people.

“I’m going to move that the pavilion is not open for hire other than for local organisations,” Cr Amber said.

“That’s what we have been doing and I see no reason to go to a group outside that wants to hold the festival.

“It’s a lot of wear and tear on the area.”

TELLU US BELOW: What do you think of the festival idea?

The council rejected Cr Amber’s concerns and voted to give the SA Punjabi Association’s October festival in principle support.

The decision was opposed by Cr Amber and Cr Neville Grigg, who said the association had not provided the council with enough information about the event.

Cr Amber said allowing the festival would set a worrying precedent.

“I don’t think we should start letting this place out because it will start happening every Sunday, a bit like a Schützenfest,” he said.

“I know the people of Athlestone are not keen on having these big crowds set up there.

“I don’t think we should hire out this property unless it’s for one of those service clubs or one that is local and this is not.

“It would just make it hard for the locals who wanted to come to the park on the Sunday and have some joy im the afternoon and not be there with stalls and things.”

Cr Jill Whittaker countered Cr Amber’s argument by pointing out the association’s president lived in Rostrevor.

Cr Marijka Ryan told the meeting many residents living in her ward were of Punjabi heritage and it would be unfair to “blankly say no” to the association.

Mayor Simon Brewer said after the meeting the council could grant exclusive use at the park if the request met a certain criteria.

“I believe there are many people of the Hindu faith in our community and I understand the importance of Diwali, so I’m supportive of it,” Mr Brewer said.

SA Punjabi Association president Kuldip Chugha told the East Torrens Messenger Thorndon Park was the “perfect platform” for the Hindu festival, commonly called “the festival of lights’’.

He said all were welcome at the event, which would feature traditional Indian food and music.

“Thorndon Park has got a good open space and more people in the local community can come and enjoy our culture,” Mr Chugha said.

“We previously held it in a hall at Klemzig and it was limited space and this time we are expecting more than 1000 people to attend.”

The council will ask the association for more information about its plans before the matter is discussed again next Tuesday (August 19).