More than 150 people from Taree to Coffs Harbour gathered to celebrate the traditional Indian festival Onam at St Paul's College auditorium in Kempsey.
Special guests included Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan and Kempsey Shire Councillor Sue McGinn (representing Mayor Liz Campbell) with a letter of support from Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams.
Onam is an annual festival celebrated by the Malayalee people of Kerala, India. Originally a harvest festival, it is the state festival of Kerala.
The Kempsey celebrations featured traditional dances, songs and music, performed by both adults and children. It also included a range of games for all age groups.
Guests were treated to the traditional Onam Sadhya, which in Malayalam means 'banquet', comprising a multi-course vegetarian meal that features 24 dishes served on a banana leaf; and were served drinks from an especially constructed traditional Malayalees Tea Shop.
Coordinator Abin Mathew said that as a harvest festival, it took on special significance this year "as we continue to pray for rain for our local farmers".
"Farming isn't easy, and the drought makes it even tougher," Abin said. "With so many Australians we continue to pray for rain to break this drought and bring new life to our rivers and dams.
"Back in Kerala we have experienced many natural disasters, more recently floods and landslides.
"They are times when our families and the community come together to really support and help each other. We see this same community spirit here in the beautiful Macleay Valley and have been touched to hear the stories and witness the strong community spirit."
Abin said most people from Kerala who now call the Mid North Coast home, work in the health and aged care sector.
"I take this opportunity to thank our governments for the great health facilities we enjoy here. We love working in these sectors and we especially love living here."
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