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Tanderrum - a meeting of five clans

Smoke. Fire. Water. Earth. Dance. Song.

Kulin Tanderrum (ceremony) is the meeting of the five clans of the Kulin Nation: Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, Taungurung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung, and your invitation to join them on this land.

Until recently the tradition of Tanderrum (Kulin meaning for ceremony) had not been practiced in Melbourne since its founding in 1835, but in the past four years it has become an integral moment marking the start of each year’s Melbourne Festival.

This powerful ceremony opens Melbourne Festival with a celebration of the ground we stand on and of the people whose ancestors walked it before our time. Elders from the five clans of the Eastern Kulin: Wurrundjeri, Boonwurrung, Taunwurrung, Wadawurrung and the Dja Dja Wurrung invite the people of Melbourne into their Tanderrum to celebrate and share their cultural heritage.

These are the first words spoken before the 18 days of stories and sensations that will follow: part opening ceremony, part welcome to country, Tanderrum is a communal rite connecting the eldest custodians of the country with its more recent arrivals. With sand, leaves and bark a space is made, and it’s a space to be shared.

The culmination of months of workshops between members of the five clans culminates in this poignant exchange of story, song and dance.

The Kulin nations are the five language groups that traditionally lived in the Port Phillip region. These language groups were connected through shared moieties – the Bunjil (wedge tailed eagle) and Waa (crow).

Within each language group, members of the community identified with one or the other of these moieties. It was their moiety that determined the pattern for marriage between individuals, clans and tribes.

Community members had to find spouses from another language group of the opposite moiety, either within or outside their own wurrung (language group).

Through Tanderrum, Melbourne Festival and its visitors acknowledge the lore of creator spirit Bunjil and pay their respects to the vibrant and living culture of this land.

When local and international artists pass through the smoke, they agree to follow the lore of the land and pay their respect to its custodians before receiving permission to perform song and dance on this land. This is the lore of Bunjil that has existed for over 50,000 years.

Join us in The Square for this breath taking ceremony.

Wednesday 5 October | 6.30pm – 7.30pm | The Square


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