IMG_0712 (2)This year’s Harmony Day Festival was held on the Alice Springs Town Council lawns on Saturday 31 May. It was a time of sharing of traditions through dance, singing, wearing traditional costumes and the telling of stories. There was also a range of ethnic food stalls where the delicious food proved to be popular; as well as other stalls celebrating cultural diversity with henna painting, hair braiding, face painting and a balloonist available for families to participate in and enjoy. Both CAAMA and 8CCC were broadcasting at the Harmony Day Festival and the live to air broadcasts encouraged families to come down to enjoy the free event.

Jen Standish-White was there with her recorder and caught up with some of the Catalina - Hungary (2)splendidly attired singers, dancers and audience at this colourful, multicultural event.

First up was Catalina  ( Right) wearing her modern take on traditional Hungarian dress. Catalina described her outfit which had a full, flared black skirt; her blouse was embellished with embroidery of flower motifs and she had an embroidered sash and wore black long boots. Catalina’s headdress worn by married woman was of black velvet with gold embroidery and she had adorned the triangular headdress worn in celebrations with the red, white and green colours of the Hungarian flag.

Debbie Cook spoke of her traditional Muslin dress from the southern part of the Philippines. Where for social functions, the woman ‘dress up’ embellishing their silk tunics and wrap skirts with beading and pearls and an ornamented sash around the waist or an alternative would be to wear the sash across one shoulder to one’s hip.

Deng Gatluak and his friend Cooke stood tall and proud in their colourful costumes from South Sudan which Deng spoke of how they are worn on special occasions to show that they are from Africa. Their outfits with a Nigerian influence of long embroidered tunics and trousers worn with an embroidered Fez style cap were striking with Deng in lime green and Cooke in deep rich maroon with gold and white embroidery.

Zimbabwean ChoirFlora Mpova from Bulawayo and Patience Mwarra from Harare, Zimbabwe described their outfits explaining that while the colours held no specific significance, the style and type of materials were important. They both wore elaborate head gear as under African custom women always cover their heads and their long skirts  symbolizes a mother, or any woman older enough to be a mother, showing a sense of dignity.

Flora and Patience then sang their moving rendition of ‘Si hamba’ a Shona song meaning ‘Wherever we are walking we walk with Jesus Christ who is our Saviour’.

Then there was Ming Lai in her stunning lime green modernized Malaysian outfit, traditionally a Cabaya, which she had made in Bali, with cut out work and embroidery on the top but replaced with pants instead of a sarong,  as Ming recounted because she is ‘such a rebel’.

Fijian GroupAnd finally, Jen caught up with a very out of breath Moses Linguvatu (bottom left) who had just come off the stage having performed an energetic and vibrant cultural dance with the Fijian Dance Group. Moses spoke of how beautiful it was to come together in harmony. He described the tradition of painting one half of the face black on whichever side the sun rose so that they enemy would be unable to catch them as they could only then see the black side of the face. Usually the dancers would have been wearing leaf skirts, not the fabric ones’ they were wearing for dancing. Moses then explained that the necklace he was wearing represented ‘nature’ as Fijians wear shells to acknowledge the beauty of their nation of Fiji.

Jen Standish-White talks traditional costumes with Debbie Cook, Deng Gatluak, Flora Mpovo, Patience Mwarra, Ming Lai and Moses Linguvatu at the Harmony Day Festival in Alice Springs.

Broadcast: Tuesday 24 June 2014 at 12 noon on 8CCC Community Radio 102.1FM

Producer and Presenter: Jen Standish-White