Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach recently hosted Master Satnam Singh Khurana, head Master of the Indian Sikh religion for three days and decided to show the leader a warm welcome by commissioning an original artwork by local Indigenous artist Christine Slaab, to bring the two cultures together.
The idea sprang from the Sofitel’s commitment to Indigenous communities, with the luxury hotel group the first in Australia to sign a contract with local company Yaru Water who provide water from the traditional lands in Bundjalung country for all hotel rooms.
In the interests of further promoting Indigenous culture, General Manager of the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach, Amery Burleigh, arranged a special hand-over ceremony of the artwork so that both communities could meet and discuss their traditions and beliefs.
When Christine explained the story behind her artwork, the Sikh master realized their two cultures shared very similar beliefs. The red brown of the painting represented the earth and the white lines the three rivers of living water flowing from Yaru – all leading to the one big living source for all: the ocean.
Master Satnam then explained that the Sikh religion has an historic tale of five rivers that flow through Punjabi to one great source – the ocean – which brings life to all. This was seen to be a true celebration of two cultures meeting and understanding each other, with both coming together in mutual respect for the land.
“It was a great honour to show our support of the Indigenous community to this important visitor and to see how the two cultures were so similar,” said Amery Burleigh. “It was a very moving ceremony that showed two very different cultures sharing a similar vision on the importance of water, earth and how important protecting the environment is to us all.
“With guests from all around the world, hotels can play a great role in celebrating diversity, increasing awareness of our local cultures and building bridges across communities and this initiative was a great example of that.”
Sofitel hotels nationally are proud suppliers of Yaru Water, with 50% of the proceeds in the business being used to “close the gap’ on disadvantage to Indigenous communities by providing training for future Indigenous leaders.