Bhutanese Organisation of Australia hosted a grand multicultural festival on November 3, 2012 at Glenroy College, Melbourne, Victoria. This event, Celebrating Multicultural Victoria in Harmony, was first of its kind in Australia, which was celebrated in conjunction with the Dashain-Tihar celebration, popular annual festivals in Hindu calendar.
This program was organised in partnership with different ethnic communities including Karen-Burmese, Assyrian and Chaldean, Burundian and others from African, Italian, Greeks, Kurdish, Indian, Nepalese, Chinese and Vietnamese communities living in Victoria. The organisors aim to host the festival was to introduce Bhutanese community to the world community of Victoria, to the government agencies, other facilitating agencies and also to promote cultural harmony among various ethnic groups.
The program started with Puja and recitals by Hindu and Buddhist priests followed by offering Tika and blessings to the guests and the community participants at the festival. The young people were entertained by the Balloon Man and having their face painted. The outdoor activities featured a number of performances from different communities amongst which Burundi drumming, Chinese dragon and lion dance were captivating and drew a huge crowd. The outdoor program also saw events such as Taekwondo demonstrations, Duesi Bhailo, cock fight, Chandi Nach. Some of the other attractions included Soccer clinic by Melbourne Heart Football Club and AFL Flying Squad.
The official indoor programs began with Bhutanese and Australian national anthem followed by Mangal Dhoon and a displayby Pancha Kanya. Parsuran Sharma Luitel, president of Bhutanese Organisation in Australia officially welcomed the guests and communities members to the program. In his speech he said,”we are proud to host and showcase cultural display and performances from different parts of the world. We extend sincere appreciation to the Government of Australia for choosing to resettle Bhutanese refugees in this great country”. This is our commitment and contribution to multicultural fabric of Australian society while maintaining the Bhutanese origin, identity and promoting unity” he added. With permission from the chief guest Mr Luitel also read out the speech by MP Maria Vamvakinou at the Federal parliament about Bhutanese community, their difficult journey as refugees and successful integration and contribution to Australian society.
The guests were honoured on the stage with Khadas. The chief guests opened the program by lighting Panas, a special lamp. Mr Tanka Nath Acharya from BOA addressed the audience and highlighted the achievements of Bhutanese community and issues facing new and emerging communities.
The chief guest of the festival was Ms Maria Vamvakinou Mp, Member for Calwell representing Federal Minister of Sports and Multicultural Affairs Ms Kate Lundy. In her speech the Mp acknowledged Bhutanese Community’s successful settlement in Australia, stating, “ I am particularly proud of your achievements in Australia, settling quickly, and demonstrating a strong will to contribute to Australian society”. Highlighting Bhutanese community’s contribution in the recovery following the aftermath of Victorian bushfires in 2009, the statement further read,” Generous of heart, following the Black Saturday Victorian bushfires in February 2009, the small Bhutanese community across southern Australia raised money to assist those in need and generously offered to assist families to re-establish their gardens”. Highlight
Also present was Mr Andrew Elsbury MP, Member for Western Metropolitian Region representing Honourable Nick Kotsaris, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, State of Victoria. Addressing the festival audience, the minister said,” Your vision to create truly multicultural festival is highly commended”. Highlighting the importance of intercultural understanding with different communities, he added,” The Victorian Government is proud to support events such as these, which aim to deepen mutual understanding and respect for the different faiths, cultures and traditions that are an integral part of multicultural Victoria”. Some of the other guest who spoke at the festival included Mr Chin Tan, Chairman, Victorian Multicultural Commission, Mr Chandra Yonzon, Consulate General of Victoria, Mr Sam Afra from Ethnic Community Council of Australia and Mr Hilary Buchumi, Burundi Community.
Some of the multicultural performances included Karen Don dance, Dzongkha dance, Assyrian/Chaldean traditional dance and Tamang dance. The most popuar among the dances were Bollyhood dance, Greek dance and Veitnamese fan dance. The program also shocased traditional Bhutanese/Nepalese Bajrayogini dance, Balan and Sangeni
The sponsors were presented with memento of appreciation by the chief guests. High achievers and volunteers form the community were also acknowledged by awarding certificate of appreciations. A dozen senior Bhutanese community members were also honoured on stage by the guests for the role in keeping community culture and traditions alive.
The program also had humane touch to the celebration with participation of several charities and humanitarian agencies including blood donation to Red Cross, organ donation to DonateLife Victoria and UNHCR charity donations for African refugees. BOA president, Parsuram Sharma-Luitel said that this was an initiative of the community to contribute back to the Australian society
This event saw attendance of over 600 people from various communities from Melbourne, and community representatives from Albury, Adelaide and Wodonga. One of the guests from Wodonga termed the event very successful and professionally presented. The success of the program was also reflected by participation of diverse communities both old and young alike.
The festival was catered by Nepalese community in Melbourne that served traditional Nepalese cuisine throughout the day. This program was streamed live by MNTV which allowed people from Bhutanese communities across Australia watched the event in the comfort of their home. The event was managed by Solangture.