Over 30 individual events and activities were offered, including a baby blessing ceremony, children’s games and activities, international vegetarian food fair and cooking demonstrations, Dharma talks, and a twilight offering ceremony.
Community members from all faiths and walks of life were encouraged to explore the theme for this year’s event, ‘Future and Hope’. It is through hope for the Earth and its people, that there will be a brighter future.
Mindfulness is strong on the agenda this year. The public was invited to participate in a large-scale mindfulness colouring project, and experience three ways into everyday mindfulness practices. Mindfulness colouring can reduce anxiety and eliminate stress and is often seen as a method to calm the mind and improve concentration.
‘The Sacred Garden and The Little Prince’ is an intricate artwork that is five metres long and was hand-drawn in Melbourne over the course of three months in early 2016. Meanwhile, the tri-part Journey to Mindfulness gave participants the chance to get hands on with tea ceremonies, calligraphy and incense ceremonies.
The festival’s pinnacle events were a World Peace Blessing Ceremony and a multifaith concert, held on Saturday afternoon and evening. The Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne opened the ceremony with a traditional lion and dragon dance, and representatives of many of Victoria’s cultural communities will appear in traditional costume. Cultural performers, including the dynamic Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir and North Indian Classical dance performers Kathak Medley, graced the stage at the ‘Moving in Harmony’ multifaith concert.
2016 marks the annual festival’s 21st anniversary. It celebrates Buddha’s birthday, and the diversity of a multicultural and multifaith society. It promotes inclusiveness, cultural awareness, cultural understanding; and enhances community spirit and social harmony.
Guests of honour and speakers included: Matthew Guy, Leader of the Opposition; Ron Gauci, CEO of Federation Square; Councillor Jackie Watts; Tsebin Tchen, Commissioner to the Victorian Multicultural Commission; Hong Lim, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Asia Engagement; Alan Wong, President of Buddha’s Light International Association of Victoria and; Venerable Man Ko, Head Abbess of Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Australia and New Zealand.