Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 9 (IANS): Malayalis settled in Melbourne donated blood as part of a two-week programme to strengthen ties between Indian and Australia ahead of Kerala's Onam festival, organisers said Monday.
The programme, organised jointly by the Malayalee Association of Victoria and the Indian Student Magazine, was inaugurated Sunday and a total 33 Malayalis donated blood.
Thiruvallam Bhasi, the editor of the magazine, told IANS over telephone from Melbourne that the programme will end on Thiru Onam day Aug 22.
"The first batch of 33 people donated blood yesterday at the Mount Waverly Red Cross Centre. In the next two weeks, another 68 Keralites would be donating blood. All the 101 people who donate blood would be honoured at our Onam celebrations to be held at the Springwell Town Hall in Melbourne Aug 22, the first day of the traditional Kerala harvest festival," said Bhasi.
One of the main reason behind the blood donation drive is to heal the wounds caused in the past one year when several Indian's came under attack in Australia.
"We just decided to do our bit to soothen the relations through the Gandhian model and it has been well received by several sections of Melbourne society," Bhasi said.
As part of the Onam celebrations, Kerala ruling front legislator and former bureaucrat K.J. Alphonse Kannanthanam and popular comedian Mammu Koya will be the chief guests at various cultural events to be held in Melbourne.