Bhutanese show of culture in Melbourne

Published on Oct 25 2010 // Main News
By Indra Adhikari

October 25, 2010: Bhutanese community in Melbourne, presented an awesome cultural program on the occasion of Dasai, one of the greatest Hindu festivals, on Saturday October 23.

The program featured a series of cultural performances in typical Nepali dress and songs. The performances included Sangini, Balan, Deusi, children dance and fashion parade exhibiting diversity of dresses from Bhutan.

“The costume parade was the show case of what ethnicity lives in Bhutan and education to the wider Australian and Nepalese communities,” says BCA chairperson Parsu Luitel. The costumes for the show were collected from Nepalese community in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Victoria.

Traditional Bhutanese and Nepali cuisines were served by Hilmayan Sherpa such as Emadachi, dahi chiura.

The program was inaugurated by Hon George Lekakis, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) by lightening special lamp. Other guest included Mr. John Gibson, President, Refugee Council of Australia; Mr. Sam Afra JP, Chairperson, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV); Mr. Chandra Yonzon, Hon Consulate General of Nepal in Victoria, Geoff Porter, Mayor of Hume City Council, Tony Ryan, Inspector Victoria Police Broadmeadows, representatives from Nepalese and Karen Burmese communities and government and non governmental agencies.

The guests were welcomed with magalacharan arati (special prayers for prosperity and happiness) followed by lamp lightening by priests Durga Guragai and Puspa Acharya, The priests blessed chief guests with tika ceremony, garland and khada. As a matter of tradition the chief guest in return offered tika to other VIPs and senior members of Bhutanese community.

Around 80 Bhutanese from Albury and Wodonga, including artists, some 15 Bhutanese from Tasmania and 300 resettled Bhutanese in Melbourne attended the function.

The Australian Karen Organization’s chief of women department also performed Karen DONE DANCE with the team of 15 people. “This has strengthened the cultural understanding and friendship between Karen and Bhutanese community who share the similarities of spending more than 20 years in the refugee camps,” says Parsu Luitel, chairperson of Bhutanese Community in Australia.

The VMC chairperson praised the BCA for its rapid progress. He said the government always extends support to new community for integration into wider Australian society. He appreciated BCA not only for guiding Bhutanese community but also being example to other sprouting communities in Australia by making tremendous achievements in such a short period of time.

He promised for more support from the government creating opportunities and support to strengthen the community.

The Hon Consulate General of Nepal Chandra Yonzon shared his experienced of settlement in Australia more than 25 years before. He recalled the struggling days of Nepalese for settlement in Melbourne. He said, despite differences in nationality, Bhutanese and Nepalese share same culture and ethnicity.

Devi Ghimire thanked the Australian government for resettlement opportunity and highlighted the achievements of the Bhutanese in short span of time. He said around 50 per cent of the educated people in the community are employed in one or other forms where many have enrolled in the TAFE and University courses.

Chief guest awarded the 10 dancers with certificate of appreciation who had participated in Premier’s Gala Dinner in March 2010. Each dancer was given AU$100 voucher as a ‘thank you’ voucher for their commitment and contribution to the Bhutanese community.

The Bhutanese Kitchen members, and six volunteers also received gift vouchers and appreciation letters while five senior members from Bhutanese community were awarded certificate for their exemplary role model in the community.

As invited by BCA, National Australian Red Cross had a separate stall for voluntary blood donation. “This initiative has brought the awareness to our people of giving to others, particularly thanking Australia and showing our contribution to the Australian community welfare,” adds Luitel.

The morning program ended by vote of thanks from Radha Krishna Guragai, General Secretary of BAC and DJ dance by old and young from the community.

In the second part of the program, the BCA in partnership with Nepalese community of Queensland organised the Lok Dohori Saj to support the Nepal Festival 2010 in Melbourne, scheduled for next month. The famous lok dohori artistes Badri Pangeni, Silla Aley and model-cum-singer Nisha Sunar enthralled the audience with popular Nepali items. BCA had made arrangement for hall, sound system and volunteer support to run the program.

Pangeni expressed happiness that Nepali-speaking Bhutanese have really preserved the Nepali culture in action and deeds.

The following day, BCA made special arrangement for elderly people from Albury and Wodonga along with those in Melbourne to visit Hindu Temple at Carrum Downs, with support from Migrant Resource Center. The excitement was visible among old people as they reached the temple. They started chanting traditional hyms right from the doors of the temple which stunned the priests and other Hindus visiting the temple.

A 91-year-old Ramu Subedi reacted while entering the temple that he has reached back to Nepal. Hari Bhandari said he had never imagined a Hindu temple in Australia and that he has been purified of all his illness for getting chance to visit the temple.

Another senior member Ram Guragai simply cried with emotions and said that he has never believed that there are such great places of worship in Australia.

The 15 Bhutanese from Tasmania had joined the elderly people to the temple.

The function was financially supported by Federal, State and local government, settlement and community organization and Nepalese business community.

Teju Chouhan, who leads Bhutanese community in Albury and Woodunga, expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the program. “It was better than we imagined. Community participation and support from well wishers have encouraged us for better performances in future,” he adds.