Viva Victoria!

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A multicultural festival in the heart of Melbourne celebrates our diverse heritage

A celebration of all things multicultural, Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival took place at Federation Square in March as part of the State’s Cultural Diversity Week celebrations. Curated by the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), this year’s program had something for everyone.

There were Ukrainian dancers, Latin dancers and Bhutanese dancers performing alongside a classical Persian ensemble, an Indonesian indie pop band and a gypsy group from Eastern Europe, transforming Fed Square into a global destination and multicultural hub.

“We all have a part to play in keeping our diverse community strong and harmonious, and coming along to Viva is a way to do that, and to share that experience with friends and family,” said VMC Chairman Chin Tan.

“Almost half of us in Victoria were born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. We are proud of this cultural diversity, and the Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival and Cultural Diversity Week give us the chance to celebrate our multicultural State,” Tan continued.

With musical acts, dancers, and roving performers, a slice of almost every nation was represented, including India!

In their stunning, colourful costumes, Punjabi dance and drums brought the crowd alive as the Melbourne Bhangra Regiment strutted their stuff.

Local arts and craft retailers Om Art Gallery showcased their traditional camel leather shoes, handmade in Rajasthan, while Omkara Designs presented their hand-embroidered textiles sourced from India’s tribal communities. Cotton clothing in fabulous colours and prints was displayed by local Melbourne outlet Radha Rani.

A free event open to the public, people were encouraged to take part in various workshops and activities. According to the VMC, Victorians collectively speak over 260 languages and dialects. Free language school workshops were held throughout the day so people could try learning how to speak with their friends and neighbours in their native tongue.

Along the Yarra River Terrace, foodies were able to sample delights from across the globe,
all the way from Belgium to the West Indies.

Indian street food pop-up Autorickshaw had those with desi tastebuds covered serving everything from bhel puri and aloo tikki chaat through to butter chicken on saffron rice. The pop-catering venture has been busy of late also serving the masses at the MCG cheering on the Men in Blue at the Indian cricket matches.

On the note of sport, various players from across the football codes delighted fans of AFL and football throughout the day as they showed off their skills conducting sporting clinics and activities.

Colorfest Film Festival was screening pictures at different intervals, allowing film lovers to watch movies about diaspora and migrant experiences

Each short film showcased the success, challenges and nuances of migrant communities in Australia with a focus on social inclusion and identity.

Now in its seventh year, the Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival is held as part of Cultural Diversity Week, held this year from 14-22 March, to celebrate Victoria’s cultural, linguistic and religious variety. It is held annually to make a stand against racism and coincide with UN International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.

As part of spreading the message of harmony, festival goers were encouraged to wear an orange ribbon as a personal pledge to not commit, condone or remain silent about any form of racial or religious discrimination.

Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival was another fantastic opportunity for all Victorians, to create a global village and come together to share their culture, faith and language.