The Bhutanese Organisation of Australia hosted its annual cultural event with elaborate fanfare and festivities on October 13, 2013 at Bethal Primary School, Meadow Heights, North Melbourne.
The theme of this year’s festival was ‘Hamro Chinari’ meaning ‘our introduction’, highlighting the significance of community’s root culture in their new found home.
This event was celebrated in conjunction with the Hume Festival of Music and Dashian-Tihar festival showcasing cultural programs, with participation form young and old alike-ranging from children as young as four-years-old to Bhutanese seniors of 70 years.
The official program began with Australian & Bhutanese national anthem followed by welcome dance by children. Khem Khanal, Vice President of Bhutanese Organisation in Australia (BOA) officially welcomed the guests and community members to the program.
He said, “This festival has provided an opportunity for young children to learn Bhutanese culture, and dances and some of them, for the first time, performing on the stage. Highlighting the importance of this kind of events, he added, “This exposure and opportunity will encourage them to participate in future programs and develop their leadership skills and build confidence in them.”
As a tradition, the guests were honoured on the stage with Dhaka Topi for men and Dhaka shawl for women. The senior members of the Bhutanese communities were honoured with Khadas by the guests as a mark of respect.
In the keynote address, Mr Chin Tan, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) said that within a span of five years of settlement, the achievement of Bhutanese Organisation has been significant. He further said, “If the community progress in such as way, the next generation of Bhutanese will produce the Prime Minister of Australia”.
“The working of BOA with service providers and local agencies has shown how closely Bhutanese community work in harmony with wider communities” he added. Mr. Tan presented certificate of appreciation to AMES and Hume City Council for their support to the BOA.
In his address Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp from Victoria Police said, the Victoria Police would like to welcome the Bhutanese youths to join Victoria Police. He said, the new community like Bhutanese will immensely benefit from extending their network and friendship with other communities. AC Crisp said Chin Tan is key to promote Multiculturalism in the Victorian community and many of his work go behind the scene to that makes Multiculturalism stronger. AC Crisp presented a certificate of appreciation to the Principal of Bethal Primary School and thanked her for supporting the Bhutanese community when they are new.
Councillor Helen Patsikatheodorou from Hume City Council said, “The way Bhutanese Community have organised themselves so well, this community can be a model to help other new communities”. Extending her commitment to support the community, she asked the community to apply for future funding from council to keep such a vibrant community and culture alive.
Addressing the audience, immediate past president of the BOA, Parsu Sharma-Luital JP highlight said that Bhutanese community has achieved so much in last five years.
He thanked the Australian government for the continued support while the Bhutanese are being resettled in Australia. Many of our community members are working full time and part time jobs; many are enrolled in universities and TAFE, which is very different from other new communities, he said.
He further said that Bhutanese community would like the government agencies to record this success and make more resources available for them to progress into the future. Voicing his concern he added, “Sometimes by being very law abiding community, we fail to attract attention of the government and miss out on funding opportunities. There has not been any unlawful issues arising from Bhutanese communities till date”, he added.
The activities of the day included free face painting, jumping castle for children, musical chair, hit the soccer ball through the tire, Bhutanese traditional cock fight, and plug the sweet race by children. Victoria Police’s Multicultural Liaison Officer was in attendance with a police car to demonstrate their work and to familiarise police with the community.
The cultural performances included, ethnic Nepalese dances, Bollyhood dances, Sangehni, Balan, rap song composed by Bhutanese youth, Bhuwan Dhimal. The traditional dances were choreographed and dancers trained jointly by Tanka Sharma-Luital and Hanisha Sharma-Luital.
Other guests who attended the event included Ramesh Kumar, General Manager AMES, Rachna Muddagouni CEO, Community West, Dalal Samaan and O’Huget from Hume City Council, Micheal Abdalla, Community Liaison Officer, Asia Desk, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, local communities, members from Nepalese communities and media.
This event was well attended by over 350 people from various communities with the community hall packed all through the event. The traditional Bhutanese cuisine was served to all the guests prepared by Bhutanese members.
Priests including Mr Bishnu Bhakta Bhattarai, Mr. Tika Ram Sapkota and Mr Naryan Adhikari aka Padsale Guruji also attended the festival.
The event concluded by presenting the certificate of appreciation and prizes by Dalal Samaan, Community Development Officer from Hume City Council.