Yesterday, I witnessed the international scope of Padua on a much larger scale at the city's annual Festa dei Popoli. This year was the 24th anniversary of the event, celebrated throughout last week with lectures, music, dance, theater, and a culminating weekend festival in Prato della Valle, Padua's natural outdoor event center.
With just a glance around Prato yesterday's sunny Sunday afternoon, the extent of Padua's international community became clear. The place was packed with food, crafts, and cultural experiences from all over the world. As I wandered around hearing multiple languages spoken, I suddenly felt less like a "straniera" (foreigner).
I had been aware that Padua had large populations of immigrants from Albania, Romania, Morocco, and China, but I was surprised to learn yesterday that there are also substantial communities from Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Peru. This I learned by watching the community parade (reminiscent of an Olympic Games Parade of Nations).
Before the parade, hundreds of people gathered in traditional dress around flags of their countries of origin: Ukraine, Romania, Albania, Moldova, Morocco, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, China, Peru, Philippines, and Italy, among others. Religious leaders representing Baha'i, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, and Catholic provided an interfaith (and translingual) blessing, and the parade took off. The representatives from the Chinese community stole the show with bright red, elaborate, dancing lions.
|Interfaith blessing as communities gather before the parade|
|Dancing lions in the Chinese community|
Of course I realize the challenges for immigrant communities in Italy: the injustices, the prejudices… However, I appreciate that Padua, for 24 years, has celebrated its multiculturalism in the Festa dei Popoli (which means, by the way, Festival of the Peoples).
|Morocco followed by Cameroon|
|The only American nation represented in yesterday's parade, Peru|