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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Oct 19 (IANS) From Scottish Highland dances to Marinera, the national dance of Peru; Spanish Flamenco to Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam, Sydneysiders enjoyed a feast of diverse performing arts at the annual World Culture Concert (WCC), an initiative of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia.

The riveting performances from 14 countries over four hours Thursday enthralled an audience of 800 people at the Sydney Town Hall.

Bhavan Australia President Gambhir Watts said: "Bhavan's ideal is 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (The whole world is but one family). With a view to put Bhavan's ideal into practice, we launched the WCC in 2004."

Sydney is a rich mosaic of migrants from about 200 countries and WCC showcases the cultural diversity of these communities.
"Each year, we provide a platform to about a dozen countries to demonstrate their traditional and folk culture. Through WCC, we hope to enhance mutual understanding between people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and at the same time encourage the artists to nurture their cultural heritage," says Watts.

This year, for the first time, a special segment for school students was incorporated in the WCC. Watts says: "The inclusion of schools across the state of New South Wales has helped us tremendously in spreading the message of peace and harmony."

The other main attractions were a Russian Opera and songs by indigenous singer and former Australian Idol Casey Donovan.

The WCC has become an important event in Sydney's cultural calendar.

"It takes the audience on a journey of traditions, costumes and cultures of different countries without leaving the shores of multicultural Sydney," adds Watts.

A celebration of the ethnic vibrancy of Australia, in the past years WCC has included performers of ethnic backgrounds from Chile, Turkey, Sudan, Portugal, Poland, Argentina, Uruguay, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia, besides India.

Bhavan Australia, which was established in August 2004, has been instrumental in making Holi a mainstream Australian event.

Since inception, it has grown manifold, starting an Institute for Indian Arts, Culture and Education, where the growing number of migrants can attend regular classes on different Indian languages and learn various dance forms and musical instruments.

Recently, it established Bhavan's Gandhi Institute of Computer Education & Information Technology, which provides subsidised computer training education to those in need.

Watts says: "There are many people here who cannot afford basic computer education and thus remain unemployed or under-employed. We felt the need to fill this gap and give the underprivileged a chance to be part of the skilled Australian workforce."

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