CANBERRA: The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government once again hosted the National Multicultural Festival (NMF), which is an annual event where people from diverse ethnicities and nationalities participate to present their unique culture and traditions.
The Tibetan presence at the festival held from 17 to 19 February 2017 attracted many visitors, both at the Tibet Cultural Centre’s information stall as well as the ACT Tibetan community’s stall which sold fresh delicious momos.
The Tibet Cultural Centre Ltd (TCC) is an undertaking of the Tibet Information Office (TIO), and various Tibetan associations based in Australia participated in the Festival. This year, the TCC invited Venerable Ngawang Tsundu from Dee Why, Sydney to demonstrate the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the impermanence of life, through the construction of a sand mandala. TCC also presented traditional Tibetan Buddhist thoughts and rituals through Tibetan arts and artefacts such as Tibetan appliqués (Thangka), prayer flags, altars and much more.
Brochures about the various activities and events conducted by the TCC and TIO, along with the addresses of Tibet- related websites were also distributed. Information about Tibetan culture, religion, books authored by and about His Holiness the Dalai Lama was also provided to stall visitors. Most notably, the Blue Book Project, an initiative that enables non-Tibetans to support Tibetan communities in exile was introduced to the visitors.
The ACT Tibetan Community Inc. has been participating in the Festival since 2005, introducing Tibetan food, arts and culture to the Australian population. This year, they performed the very popular Yak dance which is always loved by children and elders alike. The ACT Minister for Multicultural affairs, Rachel Stephen-Smith was especially glad she made it to the performance and tweeted about it. The Tibetan community also introduced the diversity within Tibet by performing dances from the three provinces of Tibet as well as a dance from the Kongpo region of Tibet. The Tibetan community takes special care to ensure their culture and traditions are kept alive, especially among the younger generation of Tibetans born in Australia, through Tibetan language and arts classes. This year, the young Tibetans of the community showcased what they had learned by performing a Tibetan song and the group of mostly 5-6-year-olds led the Tibetan contingent for the NMF parade all by themselves. The always popular momo stall had thousands of visitors including MLAs and celebrity chefs, who always look forward to traditional freshly steamed Tibetan momos which are only sold annually in Canberra.
The National Multicultural Festival began in 1996 and has since evolved into the biggest occasion in Canberra’s event landscape. In the very beginnings of the Festival, it was a one-day event, eventually moving to a 2-week Festival. Over the course of the last 21 years, it has developed into the 3-day Festival it is now, which allows Canberrans, national and international visitors alike to congregate in Canberra over one weekend for what is one of the biggest celebrations of cultural diversity across Australia.
-Report filed by Office of Tibet, Canberra-