SGI-USA New York Zone Southeast Asia Festival Opens Gateway to Peace in the Community
"Cultural Activities transcends differences in nationality and social systems. It awakens deep human emotions which then spread outward to touch the hearts and minds of others." So said SGI-USA Filipino Group National Coordinator Maria Feingold at SGI-USA New York Zone's first Southeast Asia Festival on July 29, 2007. More than 650 members and guests filled the New York Culture Center to enjoy 14 performances based on centuries-old traditions from Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and neighboring India, Japan and Korea.
Thai young women presented the Tari Piring or plate dance with dancers balancing a plate in each hand. The Malaysian performers wound long red ribbons through their flowing dance. Indian young men and women performed the Dandia Rass or sword dance that featured the rhythmical striking but complex maneuvering of hand-held sticks. The Philippine men's dance featured rhythms created from striking hollow coconut shells. A skit titled "Where is Peace?" was performed by elementary school children, in which a young girl travels throughout the world and then the universe in search of peace. She ultimately discovers that peace is something that everyone near at hand has to create together.
During the eight months of preparations, the festival organizers were determined to strengthen bonds of friendship and unity among the Southeast Asian Language Group members and the community at large. Attending as special guests at the event were New York's Philippine Department of Tourism Deputy Director Gina Boncan, Malaysian Tourism Board New York Vice President Mohamad Taib Ibrahim, and Roger Alama from the Philippine civic organization the Knights of Rizal. Consul General of the Philippines Cecelia Rebong sent a message congratulating the festival organizers and acknowledging SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's wisdom and actions for the sake of peace.
[Adapted from an article by Bob Taliaferro and Linnea Peery published in the September 7, 2007 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA]