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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 January 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 JANUARY 2018 17 LIFESTYLE All aboard the Multicultural Express: Greek band delights passengers on Melbourne’s trains Five years on the Multicultural Express still runs on Melbourne’s Frankston line STAMATINA HASIOTIS “Welcome to the Multicultural Express!” announced a Greek band as they boarded a Melbourne metro train with a bouzouki, clarinet, lyra and tympanon all in tow. Train passengers on Melbourne’s metro trains were treated to the sights and sounds of a live traditional Greek band in the trains, thanks to the wildly successful multicultural initiative from Metro Trains and the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM). After initially being trialed in London to great success, the Multicultural Express was brought to Melbourne in 2013 in an effort to combat racist and anti-social behaviour after a series of racist attacks on the Frankston train line. In Melbourne there are 10 different ethnic groups playing, from Latin America to Africa as well as three different Greek groups. The groups are formed with some of Melbourne’s best musicians from a few different genres, to give people a true sense of what Greek music is. Nick Papaefthimiou has been involved since it all started in 2013. “The amount of people who walk up and say ‘you’ve made my day’ or ‘you’ve made the trip enjoyable’ and sometimes people that you wouldn’t expect getting into it, get into it quite a bit,” Mr Papaefthimiou told Neos Kosmos. Mr Papaefthimiou, who teaches Greek dance at GCM, put together the musical program, ensuring a diverse repertoire. He said the music is diverse and includes clarinet and lute from mainland Greece. “We’ve had islander music with a lyra and clarino, and we’ve covered Macedonia as well, and rebetika bouzouki so we also did urban Greek music,” he said. Mr Papaefthimiou said the groups take the task very seriously, and try to educate passengers about Greek music and culture in an aim to eliminate any misconceptions and stereotypes about Greeks. “The first and most important thing is to introduce people into a new style of music,” Mr Papaefthimiou said. “What we found is that the youngest generation of Greeks have very little knowledge and understanding of their culture. “So what they think is traditional Greek culture is Nikos Theodorakis and Zorba the Greek and they’re really touristy, stereotypical images which is far from the truth of what is the true essence of Greek culture.” He said it is important for the band to show the many aspects of Greek culture that stray away from the anglicised views of the culture in Australia. Photos from previous Babougera events. Following an age-old tradition, Northern Greece’s Goat-Men kick in the new year The annual Babougera festival, a celebration of wine and fertility, made noise last weekend in Drama Legend has it that, during the Ottoman rule, the village of Kali Vrisi was one of the few within the Greek mainland where people did not pay for the Haraç , the harsh tax imposed to non-Muslims. The reason? No tax collector dared approach the village, for fear of meeting the Babougera, the mythical beasts that lived in the area - or rather, the groups of men, dressed in animal skins, sporting goatheadlike masks, who roamed the streets making noise, banging drums and cowbells. This was not the only time in history when Babougera were called to save the day. According to another legend, Alexander the Great had also employed the services of the cowbell-equipped animalskin-clad men in order to scare the hordes of elephants Persian kings used in their army. Because the custom of men dressing up like goats is as old as time in the area. Believed to have started as a way to celebrate Dionysus, the god of wine, Babougera were the mainstay of fertility festivals, making noise in order to wake up the Earth, during winter. It was one of the many pagan traditions that passed on from the ancient religion to Christianity, and an annual revival is a staple in the calendar of the region, taking place after the blessing of the waters ceremony, during the Holy Epiphany. This year was no exception and last weekend, the Babougera parade brought mirth to the residents and visitors of Kali Vrisi, in a three-day celebration of wine, food, fertility and music which culminated, as always, with the ‘Dionysian Wedding’.
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