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Devotional music not only soothes the soul, but opens up portals to spirituality at All Faiths Music Festival.
The Sufi Whirling was simply breath-taking. In an anti-clockwise rotation, to capture the blessings from God, this physically active form of mediation was remarkable to watch.
The amount of patience and determination needed to ensure that the rotations are continuous suggests that music does help to strengthen one’s mind.
The Sufi dervishes were participating in the third successive All Faiths Music Festival.
The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia and PNG, in collaboration with the Whitehorse Interfaith Network (WIN), helped bring together an outstanding array of performances from diverse cultures on 16 August.
Fostering harmony, peace and love is the goal of these organisations. In a world where conflict arises over religious ideologies, territorial borders and political might, interfaith networks and associations are trying to bridge the divide and promote unity through cultural acceptance and appreciation.
Organisations that took part in the festival include: Veda Group of Melbourne, Brahma Kumaris Australia, In2Worship Gospel Choir, Sufi Group, Sathya Sai Organisation, Sikh Group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Victoria, Hare Krishna, Eckankar and the Sri Lankan Buddhist Group.
The All Faiths Music Festival unfolded with the lighting of the lamps (diyas) by representatives of the organisations and dignitaries.
Notable attendees included: Cr Andrew Davenport, representing the Mayor of the City of Whitehorse; Anna Burke, Federal MP for Chisholm; Ross Alatsas, Acting Chairperson for the Victorian Multicultural Commission; Mayor Paul McLeish, City of Manningham; and, Leading Senior Const. Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Victoria Police Eastern Region Multicultural Liaison Officer.
Adults and children participated in the performances and it was gratifying to see the audience appreciating the song and dance from different cultures.
Having the youth being encouraged to contribute to the performances will remind them of the importance of their cultural traditions in their identity.
Witnessing such a range of song and dance routines is something that one would never have seen all in one go. The various organisations that took part need to be commended for publicising the work of the cultures that make up Victoria.
Expressing and showcasing traditional acts through a music festival at the centrally-located Box Hill Town Hall, shows that active members of society are taking steps to transform cultural barriers.
“These events are not about tolerance. They are about crossing boundaries and promoting diversity as society’s greatest strengths,” said Anna Burke MP. Mayor Paul McLeish reinforced the idea that “we are all Australians living in this great country”. Victoria continues to embrace people from around the world.
Mr Davenport cited council surveys which identified that 33% of Whitehorse residents are from diverse faiths and 27% of Whitehorse residents do not speak English as a first language.
Ross Alatsas noted that Australians share over 230 languages spanned across 120 different faiths. He also cited a recent survey by the VMC that found that 85-90% of Australians felt that multiculturalism was strong and positive in Victoria.
Special mentions go to Dilnaz Billimoria (WIN) and Ravi Seth (Sathya Sai International) for making the All Faiths Music Festival a memorable one.
Thanks to these stalwarts and the volunteers, the assembled gathering got an informative peek into different cultures and traditions.