In 2022, Integreat Queensland hosted the Flourish Festival in Biloela with special guests the Murugappan family attending the multicultural festival after only being released from community detention in Perth a few days earlier.
Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa, had long been the faces at the center of the country’s asylum seeker policy. But after a community-driven campaign that started when the family were removed from their home in Biloela in 2018, the family were welcomed back to the community officially at the Flourish Festival.
Now a year on, Priya and Nades are working and volunteering in the community and their children are happily attending school.
“Kopika and Tharnicaa have settled in well and are enjoying school,” Priya said. “They are happy.”
Welcomed by the traditional owners of the land, the Gangula people, with a smoking ceremony at the festival, the family celebrated the multicultural event by wearing traditional Sri Lankan dress.
In 2023, the family are planning to be more involved in the popular festival by not only wearing their traditional dress but will also contribute to cultural dance and by celebrating the tastes of Sri Lanka and India, by cooking traditional food.
“We have been welcomed back into the community and we are celebrating by honoring our cultural traditions through dress, dance, and food,” Priya said.
“The girls and I have been busy making our traditional dresses and they’re looking forward to dancing at the festival.”
Priya’s dream is to bring Sri Lankin food to Australia and Biloela. After partaking in a micro-food business training course facilitated by Integreat Queensland earlier this year, Priya is planning on starting a small mobile food business with her first outing and taste of working a small business at this year’s Flourish Festival.
“I will be cooking my own family food from Sri Lanka and India,” she said. “It is exciting to do this as I have never done it before and I’m looking forward to serving the Biloela community and thanking them for their support.”
The Flourish Festival in Biloela is being held on June 18 from 10am to 6pm at the Biloela Civic Centre.
Picture: Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa being welcomed home by the Gangula people with a smoking ceremony, at the Flourish Festival in 2022.