EXCHANGE student Catherine May may not have attained enlightenment at the Melbourne Buddha Day & Multicultural Festival on the weekend, but she certainly had fun.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary at Federation Square, The Buddha Day and Multicultural Festival certainly made the most of the space. Activities took place inside and outside with vegetarian food stalls lining the pathway towards the Yarra River.
It was the vegetarian Peking duck pancakes that particularly caught my eye down by the river, however more intriguing things were to be found inside The Traditional Chinese Art Hall. There, I was taught the ancient art of calligraphy (through the more basic act of tracing), and I also drastically failed to be taught the wonders of origami (the small boy telling me the crane was a simple structure was definitely misjudging my skill level). Fortunately the friendly volunteers ably assisted me in both these ventures and the hall offered a whole array of other arts activities including jewellery and doll making for a small donation.
Outside the Visitors Centre, everyone was given the chance to write a wish on the Bodhi Tree leaves which were then “planted” into the ground. Over in the BMW Edge a daily tea meditation session was held allowing visitors to discover the intimate experience of offering tea to the Buddha.
Other activities taking place over the two-day festival included regular bathing of the Buddha ceremonies on a stage set up in the middle of Federation Square as well as live performances on the main stage.
Do I feel I learned lots about Buddhist Culture or found spiritual enlightenment? Probably not, but maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. What I can say is that I had an enjoyable time exploring this free event and that everybody involved in the festival was keen to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with you.