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Beggars Banquet, Byron Bay December, 2008Image by Harsha Prabhu

Beggars Banquet, Byron Bay, 13th December, 2008
Image: © Harsha Prabhu

Byron’s Beggars Banquet

The Beggars Banquet is a community feast where all residents of the shire are invited to come together to celebrate the joy of sharing and the spirit of abundance.

The day began with a performance of the Ramayana, with gamelan orchestra Samagaha and master puppeteer Asep recounting the story of the great battle between the forces of good and evil.

Nigel Stewart, Arakwal representative, and Pete Jangala sang and danced the creation myths and passed on a message from the elders: please care for country and the people.

A team of volunteers - led by Fr Gary of the Anglican Church, Gwen Gould of the Community Breakfast Crew, Marie Hayes of the Byron Environment Centre and Ian Leggo of St Vincent de Paul - worked away at setting up marquees in Railway Park, collecting donations of food and gifts from all over Byron Shire and preparing a vast array of mouthwatering food in the St Vincent de Paul Centre in Marvel St. A crowd of helpers assembled outside the Centre.

Led by Mandy Nolan, dressed as the Beggar Queen, in all her feral splendour, they formed a joyous procession carrying platters of food through the streets of the Bay to the Banquet in Railway Park.
Mandy reminded us that we are all beggars on the path of love. Even Santa threw his two bits in about the wisdom of doing good deeds, while his helper threw whistles and kisses. And Norma Forest, local identity, tireless volunteer for community causes and member of Grannies 4 Peace, released a “peace missile” (helium balloons with a peace message tied to them) aimed at world leaders.

Local charities, business and individuals outdid each other in providing a veritable feast and the shire’s artistic community offered up a smorgasbord of music, dance and entertainment, keeping the rain away and the hundreds of punters in good cheer.

The theme of caring and sharing was emphasized again through the community dance of Cheze & the Afro-Beats and local poet-shaman Gina led us all in a circle dance back to the heart of things: we may be many but, as a community, we are one. For one special night, Railway Park in the heart of Byron Bay was transformed into a garden of love and delight.

It was all for a good cause: to support a drop-in centre for Byron Bay. Which was what Byron’s 3rd annual Beggars Banquet (an initiative of the Byron Neighbourhood Resource Centre) was all about: community caring for community.

Beggars Banquet Press Release, Byron Bay, 13 December, 2008

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