Sydney - April 1, 2023
On Sunday, April 2, 2023, the Assyrian National Council of Australia orchestrated the Assyrian New Year Festival, an esteemed national gathering that drew thousands of attendees to the fairgrounds in Fairfield, Sydney.
The festivities commenced as scheduled at 2:00 PM, with the audience rising in reverence as both the Australian national anthem and the Assyrian national anthem filled the air. Following this, Father Shmuel Shmuel led a congratulatory prayer to inaugurate the celebration, during which he publicly conveyed the message of His Holiness Patriarch Mar Awa III Ruel, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, marking the occasion of the Assyrian New Year.
Miss Melanie AlKhass, representing the Assyrian Youth within the Assyrian National Council, assumed the role of Master of Ceremony, extending a warm welcome to all in attendance.
Mr. Hermiz Shahen, President of the Assyrian National Council - Australia, delivered an address expressing gratitude to the audience and acknowledging the support of local and federal government representatives. Mr. Shahen also extended a warm welcome to attendees from various institutions, including representatives from Greek, Armenian, Italian, Cook Islands, Filipino, and Southeast Asian communities, as well as Assyrian organizations and international guests.
Mr. Shahen expressed heartfelt gratitude to all sponsors and notably recognized Multicultural NSW for their consistent grant support, which has significantly contributed to the expansion of this festival. He also expressed gratitude to the Assyrian Global Network TV channel for broadcasting the event live to audiences in the USA, Europe, and the homeland.
In his speech, Mr. Shahen underscored the profound significance of the Assyrian New Year as a symbol of love, brotherhood, and friendship, reflecting the unity of thousands of Assyrians in attendance. He emphasized the importance of celebrating this day in their second homeland, Australia, which has warmly embraced them, affording them the same freedoms as any other Australian citizen. Furthermore, he underscored the intrinsic value of Australia's diverse cultural mosaic, including the indigenous cultures.
Subsequently, Mr. David David, Vice President of the Assyrian National Council, welcomed attendees in a speech delivered in the Assyrian language, emphasizing the occasion's national holiday status for all Assyrians.
Distinguished representatives from the Australian government graced the event, including The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Federal Member for McMahon, Minister for Climate Change and Energy; Ms Anne Stanley MP, Member for Werriwa, Government Whip, Chair of Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library; Ms Dai Le MP, Federal Member for Fowler; Dr. Hugh McDermott MP, State Member for Prospect; Mayor Frank Carbone, Fairfield City Council; Mr. Joseph La Posta, CEO, Multicultural NSW; Ms Charishma Kaliyanda MP, State Member for Liverpool; Dr. David Saliba MP, State Member for Fairfield; Mr. Nathan Hagarty MP, State Member for Leppington; Mr. Tri Vo MP, State Member for Cabramatta; The Hon. Cr Philip Ruddock, Mayor of Hornsby Shire Council; Councillor Reni Barkho, Deputy Mayor, Fairfield City.
Additional esteemed guests included Inspector Rachael Eagle, representing Detective Superintendent Michael McLean APM, Commander, Fairfield City Police Area Command; Ms. Sussanne Jabur, Multicultural Community Liaison Officer, Fairfield City Police Area Command; Mr. Hasan Sowaid, Regional Director NSW & ACT, Social Cohesion Division, Department of Home Affairs; Ms. Jasmine Ayoub, Community Liaison Officer, Social Cohesion and Multicultural Affairs Division; Mr. Michael Gencher, Head of Community, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; Mrs. Karen Bos, National Director of Christian Faith and Freedom and Advisory to the ANC; Mr. Camil Shalala, Editor-in-Chief, the Middle East Times International magazine; Councillor Carmen Lazar OAM & Mr. Sargon Lazar; Councillor George Barcha; Councillor Michael Mijatovic; Councillor Kevin Lam; Councillor Charbel Saliba; Mrs. Maria Anthony, President, United Pontian Benevolent Brotherhood of NSW; Ms. Margaret Nekeare-Cowan, President of the Cook Islands Community Council NSW & Mr. Catiano Paulo; Mr. Rix Molavin & Ms. Mary Venus, from the Filipino Multicultural Community , representing Mr Sawathey EK, The Australian-Southeast Asian Network.
During their speeches, Members of State, Federal, and Local Government, along with Mr. Joseph La Posta, CEO of Multicultural NSW, lauded the Assyrian National Council's tireless efforts in engaging with the Australian government and pledged their unwavering support for the Assyrian people's quest for their rights in Iraq.
Mr. Hugh McDermott, a member of the New South Wales State Parliament, representing the Labor Party, announced an election promise, pledging a grant of $200,000 to the Assyrian National Council from the state to bolster and expand the Assyrian New Year festival over the next four years, should the Labor party win the State of NSW election. He acknowledged the Assyrian National Council's widespread respect within the community and among politicians from both major parties.
The festival showcased a diverse array of performances, featuring Assyrian folklore dancing, the talented Assyrian artist Narmsen Yaqo, performing alongside over 30 talented youth from various community backgrounds, and artist Danny Asmaro, a guest from Iraq. The event also hosted several other distinguished artists.
As the official opening drew to a close, acknowledgments and appreciation awards were presented to those who had made significant contributions to support this celebration. The 2023 Friends of Assyrians in Australia Shield was also awarded to Mr. Frank Carbone, Mayor of Fairfield, and presented by Ms. Anne Stanley MP, in recognition of his exceptional efforts in advancing the development of Fairfield City. Mayor Carbone had cultivated a strong rapport with the Assyrian community and played a pivotal role in facilitating the construction of the Assyrian Genocide Memorial in Bonnyrigg Park. During his tenure as mayor, he oversaw the successful completion of several significant construction projects within the city.
Following this, the Australian Assyrian Man of the Year 2023 was conferred upon Mr. Anwar Atto, acknowledging his longstanding dedication and substantial contributions to preserving the national culture and heritage within the Assyrian community in Australia. This recognition was bestowed in light of his profound expertise in both ancient and modern Assyrian languages, his years of unwavering commitment to community service, and his authorship of 12 books in the Assyrian language. Notably, Mr. Atto has been instrumental in the education of Assyrian youth in Sydney through his involvement with Assyrian schools. Furthermore, he is a distinguished poet, writer, translator, and a founding member of various Assyrian organizations. The Award was presented by The Hon. Chris Bowen MP.
Mr. Joseph La Posta, CEO of Multicultural NSW, presented the Sponsorship Plaque to the Principal Sponsor, Club Marconi.
At 6:00 PM, the public eagerly anticipated the arrival of the King and Queen of Assyria, accompanied by a retinue of bridesmaids and the royal guard, led by the sword bearer. The royal procession was heralded by a special prayer recited in the ancient Assyrian language, symbolizing the sanctification of the place where the royal couple would preside. A character portraying the mayor of the city of Nineveh, symbolizing the Assyrian masses, actively participated in this theatrical performance. The arrival of the royal procession was met with exuberant cheers, applause, ululations, and the waving of Assyrian flags by the enthusiastic crowd. Mr. Albert Abdel delivered a captivating poem on this momentous occasion, and the Assyrian Folklore Dance Troupe showcased several vibrant folkloric dance performances in celebration of the royal arrival, accompanied by the melodious tunes of Assyrian singer Bassam Slivo. Subsequently, the King and Queen addressed the public, extending their heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of the Assyrian New Year.
The festival culminated at 10:00 PM, marking the end of an eventful day that had commenced at 10:00 AM. The grand finale featured a spectacular fireworks display that illuminated the Fairfield City skyline, synchronized with the sounds of firecrackers choreographed to the Assyrian national anthem, punctuated by resounding cheers from the elated crowd.
In conclusion, we extend our warm wishes to all Assyrian people, irrespective of their sect, for a joyous Eid. We fervently hope that our nation will continue to progress towards the attainment of our rightful aspirations and the realization of our historical rights on our ancestral land.
To watch full coverage of the festival, please follow the link below: