Last time we were among a mere 100 odd visitors that had our own seats to view a few international acts and some fireworks and this year the Stupa was swamped with thousands of people. There were over 40 various performances in the afternoon, at least a dozen vegetarian food vans (tofu to die for people), merchandise vendors and of course, the precious Jade Buddha which has returned to the Stupa and created a most auspicious and important reason for Buddhists to make the pilgrimage to Bendigo this weekend.
Because the event has ballooned to epic proportions it was a lot more difficult to see everything and this time there was more than one stage operating with different attractions happening at one time, kind of like a Buddhist Big Day Out, which did mean that you didn't get to see every performance like we did last time. Also forget seating, there was nowhere to sit unless you wanted to perch on a rock (which I happily did) and if you are a short arse like me you often couldn't see the action that was going on even if you wanted to, but it was still so much fun and definitely worth the trip to Bendigo.
Chinese lions, drumming, various international dancers, hoop twirlers, a puppet theatre, live music and instrumental performers, singers, acrobats, didgeridoo performances, Tibetan chanting and let's not forget the spectacular sound and light extravaganza that always makes me feel like I am five years old again as I ooh and ahh in amazement as the fireworks go zipping across the sky overhead.
The food vans this year were super impressive as well, with a massive array of extremely tasty and also healthy vegan delights. I had a particularly good shawarma with beetroot and hummus, but the curries, felafel, rotis and other Indian fried delights also looked delicious and I don't think that anyone was struggling to find something delicious to eat. Again, it was the line up that seemed to be the biggest obstacle, but as long as you kept your cool and stayed the course, you got fed. Like all festival events, you have to expect crowds and queues and you have to make your peace with it, after all it was the Festival of Peace and Light; you can't go around abusing people and being a dick at an event like that.
I think that the Festival of Peace and Light showcases Victoria's broad Buddhist diversity and the communities genuine interest in other cultures and religious practises. I know without a shadow of doubt that I will be returning next year, and I really look forward to watching the festival grow and expand each year. Next time I will be more prepared for a more grand experience than I was this time and I cannot wait to see what the organisers are going to bring to fold in 2019, so exciting!
Release Dates: 1992 and 2011
Running Time: 96 mins and 102 mins
I think that it would be unfair to call these movies, or even documentaries, because they are neither of those things. They are a collection of short pieces of film and photography mapping the human condition, life on planet earth and spirituality from all over the globe.
There are no spoken words, only sounds and music, and sometimes there is no sound at all. We often have no idea where on earth things are being shot because the emphasis is on the experience - the what, not the where.
The impact is beautiful, tragic, touching, breathtaking, disturbing and enchanting all at once, utterly unmissable cinema and a must see for everyone. Utterly superb, see the world as you have never seen it before.
FINAL SAY: Two experiences not two movies.
4.5 Chilli Peppers