The India club of South Australia had its birth in 1967 when three Indian Families (the Joshua family, the Mazumdar family and the Nayak family) proposed the idea of the formation of an informal club for social interaction amongst the local Indian community (comprising of only a few families and a handful of postgraduate students). Dr Nayak was made convenor of this club.
A simple constitution was formulated the next year with a view to promoting the knowledge and understanding of Indian culture and to developing a spirit of co-operation, unity and cohesion between Indians residing in South Australia and Australians. This was considered paramount if Australians were to be given the opportunity to become acquainted with the culture, food, the way of life, values and the history of the Indian subcontinent.
This decision having been made, the first step was to try and spread the word, so as to enrol as many members as possible to make this a viable proposition. This initially proved difficult but as it gained momentum, more and more people, both Australians and Indians residing in South Australia, applied for membership; fees were kept to a minimum to make it attractive. It was extremely gratifying to find that Australians were very interested in the newly formed club and at that time formed a sizeable proportion of the total membership.
The next step was to draw up a written constitution which to be used to determine the guidelines along which the Club would operate. Consequently, at the Annual General Meeting held in April 1971, by the democratic process, an Executive Committee was elected, consisting of five members (President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two committee members).
This body was given a mandate to offer cultural, social and other recreational activities to members and to account of receipts and expenditure of monies and duly audited. The term of office was for twelve months during which time the Committee, according to the constitution, would steer the affairs of the club, after which AGM, another executive committee would be duly elected.
From these early beginnings, the Club begun to expand quite rapidly and it was soon realized that club membership had been increasing very fast and hence consideration had to be given to raising the status of the India Club from the club level, to that of an Association. Consequently, this matter was fully discussed at the AGM in 1974 and the consensus was that the simple constitution which had been drawn up earlier was far short of the minimum requirements of an Association. The proposed new constitution would, in the main, enlarge the existing clauses and include new proposals that were felt so necessary to run an Association constitutionally.
A change in name was proposed at the AGM (i.e. Indian Australian Association of South Australia), which was approved by a majority vote. It was also agreed that the Executive Committee would have to be enlarged to include a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Cultural Secretary, Welfare Secretary, Information Secretary and five committee members.
The Association then started functioning more and more vigorously. The monthly newsletters started to come out, containing news and events of interest to members. A weekly get-together (venue. North Adelaide Primary School) was arranged, where members could meet each Sunday afternoon and read Indian newspapers and magazines over a cup of tea. Soon, the members of the Association recognised the need for a permanent building of their own. With the view in mind, the Association embarked upon a number of fund raising project like Indian food fairs, Indian cultural evening, Indian cooking classes and Indian dance and drama during the Adelaide festival of Arts.
The Association has since those years, made considerable progress. At the AGM in 1985; the constitution was rewritten and officially accepted. A youth wing was formed.The Association has since then grown considerably, with a membership of over 250 families. Exhibitions, get-togethers, cultural activities, barbeques, annual dinner dances, annual Mela, sports activities are being organised regularly. These activities have been well supported by members and the community at large. Every executive committee has worked extremely hard over the years to extend the membership of the association and to raise the money through its activities.
In 1989 the Indian Educational Centre Trust was formed for the purpose of procuring a building. The hall at 6 Blarney Avenue, Broadview was purchased through the patronage of the Indian Australian Association and through the generous support of its members and well-wishers.
The annual Indian Food and Cultural Festival — Mela has been a key highlight of the Association's activities in the recent years. The local Indian community and businesses through this festival showcase their talents, share their culinary delights, and the richness of their culture with the wider community. Mela was first held in a small scale in 1992, at the Fullerton Park Community Centre grounds, an initiative of Dr. Jagdish Saraf. In later years it was held at the Ridge Park, Myrtle Bank. As its popularity increased Mela was moved to Bonython Park, Adelaide (2001- 2003). In an effort to lift its profile higher, in 2004 and 2005, Mela was held at the heart of Adelaide CBD, on Elder Park by the River Torrens. In 2005 for the first time it was made a day and night event. This colourful and vibrant festival attracts attendees from a diversity of cultural groups who look forward to it every year. It has won the sponsorship of the State government and the Adelaide City Council, and attracts over six thousand people.
It is evident that the Association has grown from its humble beginning to what it is today mainly due to the efforts and the dedication of its executive committees over the years, and also due to the strong support of its members.