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Assyrian New Year Festival to Usher in Year 6769
By Chris Boulous
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More than 20,000 people are expected at this year's Assyrian New Year Festival on Sunday, March 31 at Fairfield Showground.

The festival has grown in recent years with the increase in newly arrived refugees from Syria and Iraq with organisers tipping last year's record crowd of 15,000 to be eclipsed.

Hosted by The Assyrian Australian National Federation together with The Assyrian Universal Alliance, the festival is held on the first day of spring which is the vernal equinox. On this day, the sun and the moon are in perfect balance with each other. 2019 marks year 6769 on the Assyrian calendar.

"Many new arrivals will be keen to attend this festival and enjoy the freedom and liberty in one of the most peaceful, tolerant and beautiful countries in the world, Australia," Assyrian Universal Alliance deputy secretary general Hermiz Shahen said.

"The Assyrian New Year Festival was the most prodigious celebration in ancient Assyria, including Babylon, Sumer and Akkad.

"In Assyria, the New Year was celebrated by a traditional festival called the Akitu Festival, which served many purposes, such as, establishing harmony with nature, which was indispensable to a fruitful social life."

The official opening of this year's festival is at 1.30pm with a variety of music, entertainment, food and games planned.

One of the highlights will be a a dramatic art piece by a collaboration of Assyrian youth groups that simulate the arrival of the King and Queen of Assyria from the remote past to bless the festivities.

For the sixth consecutive year, an art exhibition is being organised by the Assyrian youth that will display Assyrian customs during succeeding periods of history. The festival will culminate with a fireworks display at 9pm.

The event will be attended by representatives from the three tiers of government as well as special guests from overseas.

Multiculturalism Minister Ray Williams Williams, who recently announced the festival will receive $80,000 over the next four years to support the event - said the festivities were a "special occasion " for Assyrians from war-torn Syria and Iraq to celebrate their national holiday freely in their new homeland.

Assyrian New Year Festival, Sunday, March 31 at Fairfield Showground, 10am to 10pm. The festival will be live streamed on the Alliance's Facebook page.

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