GUNA MAJHI AND DEVI GHIMIRE:
Bhutanese Community in Australia Inc(BCA) from Albury, Wodonga and Melbourne participated in a number of functions to celebrate the Cultural Diversity Week and Harmony Day on 21st March 2010. Victoria is the only State in Australia which celebrates and promotes the rich cultural values and traditions on Harmony Day by organising hundreds of activities across the state. The mega event on the Cultural Diversity week and Harmony Day is annual Premier’s Gala Dinner. The event was hosted by Victorian Premier Hon John Brumby. Among the VIP guests, Opposition Leader of Victoria, Mr. Ted Baillieu, other ministers, politicians, and senior government and non government representatives, and the community leaders from across the state attended the function.
Both Premier and the opposition leader said that one thing they both agree on is the rich cultural diversity in Victoria. Both leaders reaffirmed their support to Multiculturalism through Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) and community engagements, and said Victoria leads the nation in the promotion of cultural diversity.
The function hosted dinner sittings for up to 1500 guests. The dinner was held in the Crown Casino in Melbourne CBD which is one of the few venues in the world that hosts major events of national and international significance.
The BCA was offered a slot to perform Bhutanese dance in this year’s Premier’s Gala Dinner by the Chairman of Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), Mr. George Lekakis in the Bhutanese Community consultation in Albury in April 2009.
The dancers had been preparing Dzongkha and Nepali dances for months under the supervision of Tanka Maya Sharma Luital. Six dancers from Melbourne have performed in Dzongkha and four dancers from Albury and Wodonga in Nepali in one fusion dance. The BCA has received some funding and has bought the complete set of Bhutanese costumes from Bhutan in January 2010. Nepali costumes were provided by Nepalese community in Victoria, Sydney and Queensland.
“This is a very rare opportunity for a small community like ours to come on such stage and perform confidently”, said the Parsu Sharma Luital, President of BCA. He further said, “The Premier said to me personally, how beautiful the performance was and he was very delighted to see the professional presentation from such a new and small community which adds richness to Victoria’s already rich cultural diversity”.
The Premier said, “The week is centered around the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, celebrated globally on 21 March, which affirms our belief in the right for all Victorians to live without fear of racial and religious discrimination”.
The Opposition Leader has come to the BCA table to thank the community for wonderful performance and commended on the wonderful contribution. Bhutanese delegations of 22 people have opportunity to interact with senior members and ministers among others and expose the existence of BCA to wider Australian communities.
In the series of events to celebrate the Cultural Diversity week and Harmony Day, on the 15th of March 2010, BCA performed in the Victoria Police function hosted by Commander Ashley Dickinson of the Victoria Police in Collingwood Town Hall. The BCA artists and members had an opportunity interact with the Chief Police Commissioner Simon Overland. Many other refugee communities and senior government officials were present at the function. ”Victoria is one of the leading state in Australia in promoting Multiculturalism where people from more than 200 countries live, speak 248 different languages, and practice 129 faiths,” said Mr Overland.
BCA members were invited to participate and perform in the Harmony Day function on 19th March 2010 in Migrant Resource Centre North West at Broadmeadows. The function was supported by the Hume City Council. More than 100 Bhutanese attended the function along with hundreds of other community members living in the area.
The BCA was presented with the Harmony Day Award 2010 by Chairperson of the MRC for actively contributing and promoting Bhutanese community to the wider Australian community. The award was received by the BCA president Parsu Sharma Luital on behalf of the Bhutanese Community.
In the last leg of the hectic week, the BCA artists have travelled to perform in the annual Yackandandah folk festival next morning, after a late night performance in Melbourne on Saturday 20th March. Difference to this performance was, along with the professional cultural dancers, The New Life Band(NLB) initiated by BCA members has thrilled the crowd with the traditional Nepali Folk song”Sinduli Gadi” by Guna with Guitar, supported by Tara Dahal on the sound of traditional Madal.
Yackandandah is a remote Victorian country town which is more than 300 km from Melbourne. Bhutanese community living in Albury and Wodonga has travelled to Yackandandah to greet and cheer up their fellow dancers and singers. This was a very rare opportunity given to Bhutanese community at par with the international artists performing in the same stage such as, Big Low-Netherlands, Emily Smith-Scotland, WhiteTop Mountaineers-USA, The Beez-Germany, Ann Vriend-Canada and many others.
The local media in Melbourne, Albury and Wodonga has extensively covered the event in their local news papers.
In a separate function,” The Bhutanese Kitchen in Wodonga has raised $1913.00 by selling traditional Bhutanese food. Four members (Tara Gautam, Phurba Sherpa, Krishna Chauwan, and Ms. Ganga Basnet) from Albury and Wodonga were trained on food handling course by the service providers. The event was supported by Bhutanese community volunteers, Wodonga city Council and Gate Way Health.
“More than the money raised, the social capital we have gained and promotion of our culture from such different plat forms has exposed the Bhutanese community to the bigger audience, and we cannot put any cost to this”, said Parsu, BCA President.
(More photos of the functions will be uploaded soon)