“Festival of Praise: A Global Celebration Unfolds”

Hundreds of people from around the world gathered in Suva on March 28, 1998, on the eve of the finale of the World Festival of Praise.

An article in The Fiji Times the next day quoted festival secretary Mikaele Mudreilagi, who noted that although attendance at the march was not as high as the inaugural festival in 1997, it was nevertheless a success from a spiritual perspective.

Minister for Youth Jonetani Kaukimoce addressed the crowd gathered at Sukuna Park, where attendees enjoyed three hours of singing, dancing, and devotional speeches.

Kaukimoce stated that the government supported the festival for its positive impact, especially regarding youth involvement.

Regarding the participation of children, particularly during school terms, Mr. Mudreilagi explained that children only participated after school hours, from 6 to 8:30 PM, after which they were sent home. He added that during the day, children did not come to the festival, and acknowledged that there would be some opposition to any beneficial event.

Mr. Mudreilagi highlighted the economic benefits of the festival, stating that the event contributed positively to the nation’s economy, increased visitor arrivals, and benefited the transport and accommodation sectors.

In 1997, the festival generated around $25,000 from gate takings, registration fees, and program sales, but still faced a loss due to expenses related to facility hire, transport costs, sound equipment, lighting, and stage facilities.

For the current year, the organizers aimed to break even, with hopes of having some funds left over to prepare for the next festival, which was planned to be an ongoing event.

The next Festival of Praise was scheduled from December 26, 1999, to January 2, 2000, to capitalize on the interest associated with the new millennium.

Mr. Mudreilagi revealed that plans were not finalized yet, but there were two options for the following year: either a smaller celebration in December or a large celebration in March followed by a smaller one in December.

The scaling down of the December celebration was attributed to the fact that overseas visitors had already booked for other events unrelated to the Festival of Praise. With Christians also wanting to attend, there were concerns about a shortage of hotel rooms and potential transportation limitations.

International awareness of the festival had been encouraging, marked by an increase in the number of participating countries, but logistical challenges were anticipated in accommodating all visitors.

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