In this MultiConnexions blog, we delve deeper into the harvest/new year festival and look at the opportunity for marketers targeting products and services to a rapidly growing Indian diaspora in Australia .
Vaisakhi (pronounced Vay Sa Key, and sometimes spelled Baisakhi) is observed predominantly in North India (especially Punjab) on April 13 or 14 every year. The festival holds special significance for Sikhs for a number of reasons.
It is a time to celebrate a good agricultural year and pray for an abundant harvest in the next season. It also marks the start of the Punjabi New Year. And last, but not least, Vaisakhi marks the establishment of the Khalsa – the collective body of baptised Sikhs.
In 1699 Vaisakhi took on a special meaning for the Sikh community when the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, invited his disciples to join him in Anandpur Sahib. During this gathering the Khalsa Panth or ‘Order of the Pure Ones’ was established as a community of committed Sikhs.
Sikhs in Australia – a small but rapidly growing community
Sikhism is a small but growing religion in Australia, that can trace its origins in the nation to the 1830s.
The number of Sikhs in Australia has grown from just 12,000 in 1996 to become one of the largest subgroups of Indian Australians with 125,000 faithful (according to the 2016 Census). The last 10 years alone has seen growth of over 500 per cent.
Sikhism is now the fifth largest religion in Australia (after Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism).
Vaisakhi in Australia
The day typically begins with families dressing in new, traditional, brightly coloured clothes and attending special prayers at the Temple (Gurdwara).
Families often prepare traditional foods including makke di roti (a flat bread made from corn flour), sarson ka saag (a curry made from mustard greens), aloo poori (a potato gravy with puffed crisps), gajar ka halwa (a sweet carrot pudding) and lassi (a yoghurt drink).
Image Credit: Elise Bauer & Simply Recipes
Many people dance to the beat of dhol to celebrate prosperity.
Image Credit: l2f1 on Flickr
The number and size of Vaisakhi celebrations around the country is growing, along with the rapidly growing Sikh community.
This year, there are notable events in Castle Hill, Epping, Turramurra and Blacktown, NSW as well as Rocklea, QLD, Federation Square, Dandenong and Cranbourne, VIC and Stirling and South Perth, WA among many others. These events typically feature traditional food and market stalls, turban tying, Sikh exhibitions, Gatka (Sikh martial arts) and musical performances.
The food industry and retailers have an opportunity to woo the Sikh community at this time, given that the festival and food go hand-in-hand. Many brands also seek to leverage Vaisakhi to talk to the Australian Sikh community, as the general mood among the community is very positive.
Cultural and religious holidays and festivals are an ideal time to communicate with and develop a true connection with multicultural communities. However, it is critical and crucial to look beyond stereotyping. Underlying cultural and religious nuances need to be given due consideration. With deep-rooted cultural insights, relationship marketing during festivals can result in significant dividends.