Cultural Diversity Week: Premier’s Gala Dinner 2015

By: Anah Epifanidis - Tobin Brothers Funerals
Monday, March 16, 2015

What is it about the word 'Gala' in front of an event that makes the heart skip a beat? In my mind’s eye GALA stands for Glamour-Achievements-Lovely things-Adventure! So when asked to represent Tobin Brothers Funerals at the Premier’s Gala Dinner, launching multi-cultural week, my heart did indeed skip a beat and as I  was still basking in the glory of last year’s event, from the whirling dervish dancers to indigenous smoke dancing, one could only wonder what this year would bring!

The Crown Palladium was bustling with people when we arrived with many donning their national dress. After ceremonial pleasantries we were transported into the many wonderful and varied worlds of colour and dance.

I was moved that the evening began with the sounding  of The Last Post  as a reminder of those who gave their lives in defence of  our country.

The mood then swiftly shifted to something much more up tempo and we were treated to an array of musical melodies such as modern jazz and dancing delights from countries such as Italy, Greece, Latin America, Albania, the Polynesian Islands, Africa and Iran.

Performances began with beating of African drums and dancing soon followed by the Nuholani Polynesian Dancers swaying their grass skirts so joyously. Mauritian dancers graced the stage with their Sega dance (Sega is danced without their feet ever leaving the ground and instead, the rest of the body moves). With its rhythmic, lively music and colourful Creole lyrics, the Sega is regarded nationally as a dance that expresses freedom and 'joie de vivre'.

The Greek Cretan band treated us to Mediterranean folk music and the Albanian dance group all in national costume with a range of ages showing even the youth of today are still living and breathing their native culture.

Breath taking was the only way to describe the Tanzian acrobatic band. I am still in awe of their somersaults whilst balancing a spinning bowl, the energy they have is astounding! But my favourite for the night were the whirling Persian dancers. Dressed in white ethereal gowns and long flowing hair you could not help but be entranced as they whirled and twirled around the dance floor round and round and round. When they finished I didn’t know whether to run up and hug them or ask for their hairdresser’s phone number! Definitely an enchanting cultural experience.

Banter on the night also expressed our colourful cultural ethnicity with leader of the opposition Matthew Guy greeting everyone in a variety of different languages.

How lucky we are to live in Melbourne where cultural diversity is not only accepted but celebrated. How lucky are we to live in a city whose varied cultural expressions make up the rich tapestry of our own lives. If we only lived in Paris we may only be exposed to French culture. If we only lived in Zimbabwe we may only be exposed to African culture. In Melbourne our lives can be marked with salsa dancing one night,  fine dining Italian the next , Thai curries in front of the TV and finishing with Friday take away fish and chips. Now that’s culture!

Tobin Brothers Funerals has long understood the importance of cultural heritage in a person’s identity. At a time of loss the cultural heritage of family is often sought out as a ritual and practice that people can be reassured of. Tobin Brothers actively employs representatives with many and varied cultural backgrounds to best support the cultural needs of the community. Therefore it was with great pride that Tobin Brothers representatives of Asian, Dutch, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Spanish and Sri-Lankan backgrounds were able to be a part of these cultural celebrations and promote this service to the community. Viva la culture.

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