Community Citizen of the Year: Sweet Melodies celebrates culture and compassion

  • 10 October 2023

In 2011, Sajul Shah found himself missing the Navratri festivities of his hometown in Kenya, and came up with the idea of recreating the lively and energetic atmosphere of the Hindu festival – which celebrates good over evil – in Perth.

Having played in a band since he was nine years old, Sajul led the formation of a seven-piece group called Sweet Melodies, which today is an ensemble of approximately 18 talented musicians and artists. They share a common purpose to entertain, most notably for the Navratri festivities.

“We all practice intensely about 2-3 months before the Navratri event,” said Sajul. “Each of the practices is full of love and mutual respect, lots of banter and laughter, and endless cups of tea. The encouragement and enthusiasm of the public and the garba players motivates us all to keep doing our best. Here, music pulls our heart strings and serves a purpose in bringing the community together.”

people dancing in cultural dress

The Navrang festival is able to maintain the culture and showcase the heritage that Sajul and his team are so proud of. For more than 10 years now, they have been able to bring together music, dancing and food for the wider community to enjoy – not even the Covid-19 pandemic could stop them, with Navrang 2020 reportedly being the largest celebration of Navratri in the world during this time.

Not only does Sweet Melodies bring the community together, the group raises important funds for charities around WA through the festival.

“Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ Inspired by these thoughts, we decided focus our energies to raise money and contribute to helping those less fortunate members of the society. We have supported various charities with an objective of helping with any necessary equipment. Over the years, we have managed to donate over $150,000 to various causes. To ensure that our earnings are correctly and efficiently utilised, we decided to provide charities in kind, be it heart defibrillators for the Heart Foundation or wheelchairs for kids, setting up home equipment for the Leukemia Foundation or epilepsy beds.”

group of people standing around wheelchair

During the weekends of 20th & 21st, and 27th & 28th October, Sweet Melodies will present Navrang 2023 at HBF Arena in Joondalup. Over four nights, the band and dancers promise to captivate audiences, who will be encouraged to dance and sing along while enjoying a culinary feast of different tastes and flavours. This year, Navrang is supporting Dandelions WA, to provide kindness kits and school backpacks to as many children in need as possible – “Together, we can spread joy and kindness like confetti!” said Sajul.

For its commitment to embracing cultural diversity, strengthening the community and supporting various charities, Sweet Melodies received the Active Citizenship Award in the 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards from the City of Joondalup. To give a group or event the opportunity to be recognised by their local council, nominate in the 2024 Awards by 31 October 2023 at

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