For two harmonious and enlightening days, the annual Buddha’s Day & Multicultural Festival will grace Melbourne’s Federation Square. Now in its 22nd year, and with more than 85,000 people anticipated to attend, diverse communities and families will come together to commemorate Buddha’s birthday, and celebrate our multicultural and multifaith society.
Presented by Fo Guang Shan Melbourne and Buddha’s Light International Association of Victoria (BLIAVic), over 30 distinct events and activities can be experienced at the event being held over 20-21 May, featuring entertaining and educational cultural performances and the popular ‘Taste of Asia’ vegetarian food fair. With this year’s theme exploring ‘Consensus and Openness’, visitors are encouraged to wholeheartedly embrace social and community cohesion, harmony, the freedom to be ourselves without discrimination, and world peace.
Federal Opposition Leader the Hon. Bill Shorten MP believes the festival is a wonderful celebration that also honours the rich heritage of Australia’s Chinese community and the dedicated volunteers that share its vision and values. “You teach us that our differences are a strength, not a weakness, and remind us that when a community as diverse as ours comes together in a spirit of solidarity and partnership we are worth so much more than the sum of our parts,” Mr Shorten said.
A highlight of the festival is the auspicious World Peace Blessing Ceremony that will be conducted by Venerable Man Ko, the Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Temples in Australia and New Zealand. The ceremony’s lively opening of Chinese lion and dragon dancing will be performed by the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne, while a ‘Welcome to Country’ will be conducted by Wurundjeri elders, traditional owners of the land.
As mindfulness is key to living a fulfilling life, insightful meditation classes are offered. This includes unique tea meditation performances, a union of tea ceremony and moving meditation, and guided meditations. Led by meditation teachers from across the globe, they cultivate greater self-awareness and a peaceful state of mind to reduce stress.
For new or established families, the momentous baby blessing ceremony is a must. The festival also has an abundance of fun, hands-on children’s games and activities, from face painting to adorable farm animals. Federation Square’s scenic waterfront River Terrace is the ideal setting to savour ‘Taste of Asia’, which showcases an array of healthy international vegetarian cuisine.
Additionally, leading vegetarian chefs demonstrate how to create mouth-watering dishes at the Vegilicious exposition. It includes a vegetable dumpling workshop with Shandong Mama, Dr Kheng Tan discussing the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables, and presentations from Lentil as Anything, Angela’s Kitchen and chef Venh Cay.
In the spirit of inclusiveness, and in collaboration with the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne, the much honoured Interfaith Ceremony sees different religious leaders and faiths come together for universal peace and cultural acknowledgements. Meanwhile, the celebratory ‘Moving in Harmony’ multicultural and multifaith concert unites people from all walks of life through the universal language of music, song and dance.