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When one day is not enough to celebrate the harmony amongst us
Hamony Day has been celebrated in Australia since 1999. Since then, more than 25,000 Harmony Day events have been held by a wide range of community, sporting and cultural organisations. These are supported by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Events include sporting activities, food festivals, dance or music performances, or simply bringing people together to talk and share stories.
Harmony Day celebrates the fact that Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world – approximately one in four of Australia’s population was born overseas and around 44 per cent were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Australians identify with more than 270 ancestries, speak over 260 languages and practice a wide range of religions.
In Western Australia we don’t just have Harmony Day, we have Harmony Week! We are the only state in the country to do so. Because I am involved with the Sri Chinmoy Oneness Home Peace Run, I am fortunate to go along with the Peace Torch to a number of Harmony Week events.
Mirrabooka Harmony Day was the first and took place on 18 March. Heavily supported by the Office of Multicultural Interests and by the Mirrabooka Square Shopping Centre, the event is always a great one. Organised with great community spirit by groups such as the Edmund Rice Foundation, the whole event is a joyous celebration of what brings people together.
School choirs and politicians like Labor MLA Janine Freeman and local councillors always attend and show their support. Service groups display their material and promote their causes on their stands with kids’ activities keeping everyone busy.
This year was the first time I went to a City of Gosnells-organised Harmony Day event. Held on the Saturday at the Walter Padbury Reserve, the Little Scribblers Festival targets kids and was combined with many Harmony Day activities.
Animal petting zoos, bouncy castles, face painting, camel rides and badge making were just a few of the free activities on offer. Coupled with African drumming, Bollywood dancing and a koala (rarely cited in WA), everyone was thoroughly entertained.
If that wasn’t enough I also went to Tomato Lake on the Sunday joining in with the Belmont Harmony Day celebrations. I have attended this event for the past seven or so years and every year more and more people seem to come. The balloon twisters had a queue a mile long, as did the local kiosk. I was busy pressing out badges that the children had made, pressing so many I actually gave myself a wrist injury and elbow blister!
Mayor Phil Marks invited everyone to walk around Tomato Lake with the torch and the professional musicians played us world music all afternoon.
Harmony Week is a special time in Perth. It celebrates all that unites as a community, something that in today’s multicultural world needs to be celebrated all year round. If you can, get along to something next year.