'Happy and proud': Hundreds ring in Assyrian New Year in Australia

Hundreds of people have celebrated the Assyrian New Year in Sydney's west with live musical performances and traditional dance.

Assyrians around the world have ushered in their New Year.

And for many Assyrians who recently arrived in Australia from war-torn Syria and Iraq, this was a special occasion to celebrate their national holiday freely in their new homeland.

More than 40,000 Assyrians call Australia home, most living in Fairfield in Sydney's west.

There are an estimated 40,000 Assyrians in Australia.
Source: SBS

Hermiz Shahen of the Assyrian Universal Alliance told SBS News that the event is "something that brings you back to your history, to your culture (which) is why people love this day".

Dating back more than 6,000 years, the festival marks the start of spring in the Middle East.

As Christians, Assyrians have faced persecution from Islamic State in their Muslim-majority homelands of Iraq and Syria. Many have fled the violence and resettled in Australia.

The Bathyoon family migrated to Sydney nine months ago after their home in Iraq was attacked by Islamic State.

Mariana Bathyoon said she was "happy and proud" to celebrate her first Assyrian New Year in Australia.

The event was also an opportunity for cross-cultural understanding, with Australian politicians and many leaders from different faiths and cultures taking part in Monday's celebrations.

David David of the Assyrian Australian National Federation said "we call it the Assyrian New Year festival, but it is open for everyone".

"Today we have invited actually the Jewish community, the Greek community, the Armenian, the Italian, the Chinese," he said.

Published 2 April 2018 at 7:47pm, updated 2 April 2018 at 8:01pm
By Lydia Feng, Nick Baker