by Maria Smith
Hiyas Dance Troupe Members: (l-r) Ebony Farquhar, Zen Lapena,
Ludy Dellamas (Director/Choreographer), Doreen Bontemps and Verna Sims
Majestically beautiful “Banga” dancers at the Knox Harmony Festival
The second Knox Multicultural Harmony Festival (MHF) at the Polish “Syrena” House along Stud Road in Rowville on March 29-30 was even bigger and better in terms of the perfectly warm “no cloud in the sky” weather and thousands of satisfied spectators who went through the gates of “Syrena” House that particular weekend.
This multicultural event supported by local traders and businesses showcased a rich array of non-stop entertainment and cultural performances from about 20 ethnic communities in Knox and surrounding areas.
Opening the first day was the Chinese Lion Dance, followed by the Afghan Fashion Show/Parade. Our own Filipino performers led by Joey Santos, the Three Stars and Sun Jazz Band started off the festival on its second day, serenading the crowd with the pop version of “Sa Lumang Simbahan” among other memory-tickling Filipino tunes.
Among the impressive traditional “flamenco”, “hellenic”, folklorean and contemporary dances from all over the world, our own Hiyas Dance Troupe (choreographed by Mrs Ludy Dellamas) likewise impressed the crowd with its own “Banga” (a large earthen jar) and “Aray!” (Ouch!), a ceremonial and enticement (between a man and a woman) dance, respectively.
Promoting social inclusion and cultural awareness on the day was also reflected on a number of colourful souvenir/artifact stalls from a number of ethnic communities creating a vibrant marketplace alive with eye-catching costumes, rhythmic sound and the mouth-watering smell of exotic cuisines sold at very affordable prices.
Unsurprisingly the continued success of the festival was due to the collective effort of a large number of dedicated and committed volunteers who gave their time and effort to promote cultural diversity in all its forms, boiling down to the essence of volunteering.
Moreover, something that must not be overlooked was the constant, ongoing and selfless dedication and passion of the Senior Committee Members Marta Marot (Chairperson); Susan Pai (Secretary); Teresa Koronczewski (Treasurer); Maher Megallaa (Public Relations); Manjit Singh (Events Manager); Michael Migliaccio (Media/Sponsorship) and Ramona Chua (Food Stalls Safety Officer).
Indeed there was no shortage of congratulatory and encouraging words from federal and state MPs, local councilors and leaders of local ethnic communities who attended the MHF officially opened by the new Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Hon. Matthew Guy and the Knox City Mayor Cr Darren Pearce.
(l-r) VSL Mrs Maria Smith, AFCS Chairperson Mrs Cynthia Norton, Knox MHF Main
Organiser Cr Joe Cossari and Mr Joey Santos at the MHF Meeting at Syrena House
Knox City Cr Joe Cossari who gave birth to and has been influential in securing financial backing for the Knox Multicultural Harmony Festival has also been inspired with the unity of spirit and the quality of performances from participating ethnic groups, emphasizing that “understanding of others is the strength of society” no matter where we come from.
In his last few words applauded by thousands who came to the festival, Mr Chin Tan (Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission) encouraged everyone to continue to promote the way of life that celebrates our cultural diversity in a tolerant, socially- inclusive society such as Australia.