Australia has a long history as a multicultural nation, home to people and cultures from all around the world. And the City of Boroondara is no different – a vibrant community of people from all corners of the globe, living and working together in harmony.
With the pointy end of December fast approaching, many of us are preparing for Christmas and New Year festivities. However, for many Australians Christmas is just one of the many celebrations held at this time of the year. Here are some of the other wonderful feasts, festivals and celebrations being held across our vibrant city.
On 8 December, the Buddhist community celebrated Bodhi Day – an important day in the Buddhist calendar that commemorates Buddha attaining enlightenment. The date changes each year in tune with the Asian luna calendar. Those celebrating the day perform acts of kindness towards others, partaking in meditation, or chanting traditional Buddhist verses.
On 12 December, the Tamil and Malayali Hindu community celebrate Karthikai Deepam, which occurs on the full moon day of the Karthikai month, the eighth month of the Tamil Hindu calendar. The day celebrates the birth of the Lord Murugan, the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, and Ganesha’s little brother.
On 21 December, people in the Chinese community celebrate Donghzi, the Chinese winter solstice festival. The festival promotes harmony and positivity and families celebrate by making tangyuan together – a glutinous sticky rice ball that symbolises reunion and togetherness.
On 22 December, the Persian community celebrate Yalda (Shab-e-Yalda in Persian). The festival celebrates the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. To celebrate Yalda, people spend time with family, read poetry by the philosopher Hafaz, and eat red coloured fruits which signify the crimson hues of the early morning dawn.
This year, from 24 December to 1 January, the Jewish community celebrate Hannukah, which commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The festival lasts for eight days and nights with a candle being lit each night on a special candelabra called a Menorah.
On 1 January, members of the Orthodox Christian community celebrate the feast of St Basil. The day celebrates St Basil, considered by many as one of the greatest leaders and thinkers of the Orthodox Christian church. A special cake is baked the night before St Basil’s Day with coin of gold or silver hidden inside.
On 5 January, the Sikh community celebrate the birth of Guru Gobindh Singh. The celebration honours the birth of the founder of the Khalsa who lived from 1666 – 1708 (Khalsa refers to the collective body of all baptised Sikhs).
And on 15 January you can celebrate World Religion Day. The day is observed in over 80 countries and aims to foster interfaith understanding and harmony by emphasising the common elements underlying all religions.
So whatever feast, festival, celebration or commemoration you are enjoying, we hope you all have a safe, wonderful and harmonious time.
Cr Phillip Healey