Sydney – Sunday 30 October 6772-2022
The Assyrian National Council - Australia (ANCA) held its first Assyrian Music and Cultural Festival, at Fairfield Showground, the aim was to bring the Assyrian community together to cherish and embrace their own culture as it is currently at risk of extinction due to persecution in various countries of origin.
The celebration ceremonies began at 2:00pm by a blessing prayer given by Reverend Fr Ramen Youkhanis of the Assyrian Church of the East. The attendees were then greeted and acknowledged by the Master of the Ceremony, Miss Breteil Tigers David.
Then Mr. Hermiz Shahen Chairman of the Assyrian National Council in Australia, gave his speech, thanking representatives of local, State and Federal Governments for attending the festival and their continued support to the Assyrian National Council. He also welcomed representatives of the Greek, South Asian and Assyrian communities.
Mr. Shahen talked about the occasion, saying: “Our Ancestors, the ancient Assyrians (The Cradle of Civilization) left behind a great and rich legacy including Musical instruments and vocal music, that enriched and shaped the Assyrian Culture. In ancient Assyria, music was part of the day-to-day life, playing in military, religious, banquet, work, and mythical events. It is our obligation to keep this culture alive, to express our national identity with pride, to maintain our deep roots in history, and determination to be free from all forms of oppression, extermination, and marginalization that we have been exposed to in our own homeland throughout our long history. Thus, it can be said that this event is a protest as much as it is a celebration of our rights as the descendants of a powerful and rich empire which saw the birth of many things that we take for granted today”.
He continued by saying: It was believed that the first Assyrians arrived in Australia was in the 1950s. However, records in the Australian Archive suggest that an Assyrian arrived in Australia in the late 19th century from Assyria. By 1965, there were around five Assyrian families and a few individuals living in the Sydney suburbs of Randwick.
Currently, our Fairfield City represents one of the largest continuous overseas settlements of Assyrians in Australia to become part of more than 300 different cultures that have contributed to forming the melting pot that we know modern Australian society to be today. Mr Shahen concluded by thanking major sponsors; Fairfield Forum Pharmacy and Multicultural Australia, for their support to organise such important events.
Mr. David David, Vice President of the Assyrian National Council, welcomed the attendees, in a speech in which he praised the importance of holding such important cultural activities for Assyrians. He thanked all volunteers and sponsors including Multicultural NSW for continued support.
Then came the speech of representatives of the Australian government, including the Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy; Mr Steve Kamper MP, Shadow Minister for Multiculturism, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Shadow Minister for Property; Ms Dai Le MP, Member for Fowler; Deputy Mayor, Fairfield City Council, Councillor Reni Barkho.
In their speeches, all the speakers praised the role of the Assyrian National Council -Australia for organising such important and wonderful festival.
Other guests included Councillor Carmen Lazar OAM; Councillor George Barcha; Councillor Nathan Hagarty from Liverpool council; Dr Chaw & Mr Ei Nu, representing the Australian Southeast Asian Network, from Myanmar Community and representatives of the Assyrian and Pontic Greeks community.
The conclusion of the official opening program saw many awards presented to Assyrian well known singers, Musicians, Lyrics writing and sponsor who contributed to the financial support for this celebration.
The 2022 Music Awards was presented by the Hon Chris Bowen MP to Mr Enwina Shimon, Mr Manuel Simon, Mr Rennie Daniel, Mr Eshaya Nano and Mr Johnny Brikha, in recognition of their artistic excellence and outstanding success in promoting the Assyrian music and culture.
The Lyric writers Awards was presented by Ms Dai Le MP, to Mr Shimon Barkho and Mr Yousip Minashi, in recognition of their significant contribution and passion, in promoting the Assyrian music and culture and for being a model of creativity through songs writing.
The Folkloric Dancing Award was presented by Mr Steve Kamper MP, to Mr Gewargis Younan (GAGO), and Mr Youkhana Khamis, in recognition of their significant contributions, passion, for the Assyrian folkloric dancing, and for being a driving force behind keeping the Assyrian traditions alive.
The festival was a great opportunity for many business, Youth and Charitable organisations to promote their products and aims. The Assyrian Cultural & Social Youth Association Inc. organised a wonderful exhibit featuring traditional articles of clothing from the collection of Garments of Assyria. The Assyrian Khabur Social Association were presenting their Charitable products, Mr Jacob Merazez , a formar headteacher of Assyrian language school was promoting Assyrian books . All the above have helped define the festival’s identity as a supporter of activist causes, rather than a commercial.
The festival continued with continuous Assyrian songs entertained by about 13 Assyrian singers accompanied by nonstop dancing by the audience
The festival ended at 10:00 at night, with unprecedented joy , energy and loud cheers of the crowd.