BY PARIS O'ROURKE
At a time when Australia is divided by cultural and racial tensions, members of West Footscray’s community came together at the Festival of Colours to celebrate a multicultural society.
Event MC Helen Rodd said after the Christchurch mosque massacre, the festival – which marked the end of Cultural Diversity Week on Sunday – had a positive message.
“Our message was about respecting the diversity in our community and seeing it from a positive perspective rather than from fear,” Ms Rodd said.
“It is really important for communities to actively remember and protect diversity and come together in communal shows of solidarity.”
The event ‘Festival of Colours’ originated from the ancient Hindu spring festival of Holi.
Barkly St includes many traders of Hindu origin.
“The chosen name emphasises the spectrum of colours as representing the diversity of ethnicities, religions, ages and sexual orientation within the community,” she said.
Events at the festival included Dance Habit, Jeongsin Taekwondo club and the Ousmane Sonko African Drumming.
Ms Rodd said it was a deliberate decision to have a lot of the funding go towards free activities, including a jumping castle, face painting, silent disco and roller-skating. These ran alongside local traders selling produce and exhibiting their craft skills.
Volunteer Hannah Veljanovska, 22, sold donated toys for the Maribyrnong Toy Library, and said she believed West Footscray was becoming more gentrified.
“The local Indian community has been here for years and still play a large part in the festival and community spirit,” she said.
“I think this is a good festival as it is a fusion of the old and the new.”
The main road and Barkly St were closed to make space for more than 5000 people who attended the event.
The neighbourhood house board of governance is yet to evaluate the community benefits of the festival, but Ms Rodd said the festival was a success and would continue.