Fiji Day 10th October celebrates Fiji's independence in 1970, a former colony of Britain, still part of the Commonwealth but now a republic after the coup of 1987. Long story there! Anyway we have a special day each year, often with rugby matches, lovo food, Island night dancing in Melbourne. However this year Peceli and I were at Dandenong with our Indo-Fijian friends for the 10th International Consultation of Hindi Fellowships which was mainly Fiji Indian people. There was lots of talking, five church services, superb meals, and a dinner and concert at a hall in Wantirna. Here are a few photos including one of a shy girl dressed up, Padre Caleb, Sidal, Mavis, meke dancers. In the spirit of Fiji day there was a lovely interaction between the two cultural groups - singing or reciting in one another's languages. However the final song of 'Isa Lei' was the worst rendition I have ever heard as some basses upstaged everyone! I missed some of the best possible shots - an eight year old girl dancing Bollywood style on the stage while her two year old sister played with a ball, laughing all the time and nearly tripping over her beautiful long skirt as she ran across the hall. Way to go!
Some highlights of the weekend were:
*meeting Rev Mahesh Giri and Lalita and discovering how gracious, intelligent and warm they are. Lalita is also a gifted singer. They live and work in Seattle,
*meeting older friends - padres and their wives - one cannot see, one cannot hear, but they are still focussed on life and have gifts to share,
*meeting Rev Waisake and Mere who live in Navua and have been called to ministry based at the Timothy Memorial church and are now spending a few days im Geelong with us,
*meeting with middle-aged women who were raised in the Dilkusha orphanage many years ago and I remember them as young girls, and also Miss Gwen Davey, once the Dilkusha mother to them all, came to the final service at the weekend. Though has trouble walking, she is as alert as ever.
*singing bhajans and realizing I can still sing some of them and even read the script, though one bhajan music group played so fast we just couldn't catch up!
*the Moderator of the Uniting Church, Rev Alistair McCrae, and Moderator of Victoria, Mrs Isabel Thomas Dobson gave fine clear addresses at two of the worship services.
*tributes to the memory of Rev Dr Doug Fullerton, and a segment to honour 50 years since ordination of both Edward and Danny and I realized if they hadn't gone to Adelaide to study in the 50s I would never have gone to Fiji for that Methodist Workcamp in December 1961-January 1962. Long story.
*the food, glorious food at each meal so that the buttons on my blue dress nearly popped!
The few moments of disquiet I don't have to discuss here - I'm not good at sitting for a long time listening to speakers and prayers - I'd rather be arguing and discussing topics around a small table and I was sorry there wasm't more time for small group, face to face yarning and telling stories. The bhajan tunes and words are still in my head as we wind down after the lovely weekend in Dandenong.