Children’s book celebrates Indian hawker-farmer Siva Singh’s contributions to local Australian community

"A Benalla Story" is authored by Alice Crichton, Parminder Singh, and Punarji Gunaratne with beautiful illustrations by Swarangi Bhave.

The Benalla Migrants Association Inc. recently hosted a book launch ceremony for “A Benalla Story,” a bilingual children’s book that beautifully illustrates the contributions of Siva Singh to the multicultural migrant community.

Image: Book “A Benalla Story” (Source: CGI Melbourne – X)

“A Benalla Story” is authored by Alice Crichton, Parminder Singh, and Punarji Gunaratne with beautiful illustrations by Swarangi Bhave.

Image: Children reading “A Benalla Story” (Source: Benalla Library – Facebook)

The book launch event was graced by the Consul General of India, who attended the ceremony and took part in the celebrations.

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The book launch was a significant event, highlighting the importance of recognising the historical contributions of Indian migrants like Siva Singh. His story, vividly brought to life through the book’s illustrations and narrative, serves as an educational resource for children, showcasing the rich multicultural heritage of Australia.

Image: The plaque commemorates farmer and hawker Siva Singh (Photo: John Howship / Source: www.monumentaustralia.org.au)

Siva Singh, who arrived in Victoria in 1896, worked as a hawker in the Benalla region, selling groceries and goods to local farms. By 1915, he owned 422 acres of land, including a 320-acre farm in Benalla Shire. The first confirmed reading of an Akhand Path took place on 16 December 1920 at Siva Singh`s farm at Benalla.

Despite being struck off the electoral roll in 1915 due to the racist White Australia Policy (WAP), Siva Singh contested this decision, taking his case to the High Court of Australia to fight for the rights of Indian migrants. Although he initially lost, he was reinstated on the electoral roll in 1925.

Image: Book release – “A Benalla Story” (Source: Benalla Library – Facebook)

During the event, the Consul General interacted with the Mayor, local councillors, and community members of Benalla, further strengthening the ties between the Indian community and the broader Benalla population.

Image: Management committee members of Benalla Migrants Association Inc. (Source: Website)

Benalla, located approximately 200 kilometers north of Melbourne, Victoria, and one hour south of Albury via the Hume Highway, is part of the Benalla Rural City. This region includes several rural villages such as Baddaginnie, Devenish, Goorambat, Swanpool, Tatong, Thoona, and Winton.

The Benalla Migrants Association Inc., a not-for-profit organisation, plays a crucial role in uniting and supporting the migrant community while promoting cultural diversity within society.

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This gathering provided a platform for meaningful dialogue and community engagement, celebrating the shared history and diverse cultural fabric of the region.

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