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Speech by Marc A. Huybrechts, Honorary Consul General of India on occasion of Diwali celebration 2014 in Antwerp

Your Excellency, Mr. Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and Mrs Puri !

Dear Mr Ludo Van Campenhout, Alderman of the City of Antwerp+

Dear Chairman Mr. Mehul Kothari and Board Members of the Antwerp Indian Association

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends of India,

Dear Distinguished Guests

As your Honorary Consul General I would like to start by extending to all of you my sincere best wishes for a happy Diwali !

A sincere “Thank you” to the Leadership of the AIA for again having organised such as spectacular and festive Diwali celebration in line with the great moments of Indian culture and especially thank you for having invited me and having accepted me and my dear daughter Laurence who is with us tonight. Yous see a happy Dad and a happy daughter ! Diwali is indeed a family gathering after all!

As the chairman said, the new board of the Antwerp Indian Association is implementing a renewed policy, indeed under the chairmanship of Mr. Mehul Kothari, the new board is showing great openness by inviting ‘s dignitaries of local Belgian and City authorities for this Diwali Celebration . Unfortunately Madame Cathy Berx, Governor of the Province , The Mayor of the City Mr.Bart de Wever and Mr.Alderman Phillipe Heylen had to be excused on account of their international travels.

I want to congratulate the board for this new approach and this new policy for the years to come.

We can only but welcome this renewed policy which reflects a greater openness to the local Belgian and Antwerp community.

The result of this will be that our Indian culture, carrying so many great values, will be better known within the local Antwerp community.

This year also, the chairman and the board members were present at the Antwerp Memorial celebration on September 7 to honour the liberation of the City at the restored Cromwell tank. With the help of the Antwerp Indian Association, I had the great honour of presenting a wreath of flowers with the Indian colours in memory of all the fallen Indian troops in the fields of Flanders during the first world war.

The Community of Antwerp and the British Legion have rightfully not forgotten that some 10,000 Indian troops gave their life for the liberation of Europe. I thank chairman Mehul and the board for their presence which was very meaningful to all of us.

And finally also a word of thanks for the active support by the Antwerp Indian Association on occasion of the Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 at a Provincial House.And a special word of thanks to the members of my Consular Task Force,Mr. Michel Collen, Mr. Ramesh Metha and specially Mr Hiren Shah!

I received words of appreciation thereafter my Madame Governor and by the first secretary of the Indian embassy, Mr Inbakesar, for the very dignified way in which we ,with the active support of the Antwerp Indian Association, could pay our respects to the Father of the nation.

Tonight we will also extend the awards to the some very worthy members of our community who by their efforts have contributed to the well-being of our community. At this time I already want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to those Indian citizens and friends whose efforts will receive due recognition tonight.

Diwali is known as the "festival of lights", this ancient Indian festival is celebrated in autumn every year..
The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Diwali is celebrated all over the world by Indians of various religious backgrounds, the Hindus , the Jains, the Sikhs , all sharing in the same desire for renewal and for a new beginning.

This “feast of the lights” symbolizes indeed renewal and new commitments.

It always strikes me that the “festival of lights” is symbolized by tiny little flames, and little as these flame may be, yet these tiny flames will make all the difference for us.

The little flame marks the difference between darkness and light,between seeing or being blinded in the dark.

Let us carry that tiny little flame ahead of us and let us be guided by its light in the year to come !

We sincerely hope that this enriching tradition known as “the feast of the lights” will continue to be celebrated in in this beautiful city of Antwerp with full splendor for the years to come!

Enjoy the evening and have a good time!

Marc A. Huybrechts

Hon. Consul General of India

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