Yesterday I attended the Tamejavi Festival with my friend Samina and her two children Maya and Cyrus. According to the Tamejavi website, "Tamejavi is a word meaning 'cultural market' whose origin is in the concept of 'plaza' or place of exchange. It is derived from the Hmong and Lao TAj laj Puam, the Spanish MErcado, and the Mixtec nunJAVI." Each year, this educational event creates an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of the many immigrants who have made their homes in the Central Valley.
I blogged about the food we ate there on Cakeypal's Savory Morsels, so here I'll blog about the children's dance performances. The program began with a group of Persian dancers. I enjoyed witnessing the cultural pride they displayed as they shimmied and twirled . . . it was also fun to see parents and grandparents beaming with pride. Another group performed traditional dance moves to more contemporary Hmong pop music. These little ones were so cute with their synchronized moves and shy smiles. Although the M.C. commented on his own "Asian bling-bling," the girls' outfits were also charming.
Two young couples danced a Oaxacan number and then all the performers gathered on stage. After brief comments from Fresno City Councilmember, Blong Xiong, the group sang "This Land Is Your Land" led by the Mujeres Valiantes. The Woody Guthrie song took on new meaning for me in this context; it celebrated the immigrants whose descendants make up much of the American population. The Mujeres Valiantes sang another number on their own, "Brown Eyed Children."
While we wandered around Radio Park looking at art and waiting in line for the Time Tunnel, Armenian and Filipino dancers took the stage. I walked towards my car to the tunes of those displaced by the Dust Bowl. The crowd yesterday was fairly sparse--I hope that this event continues to grow. It is a unique Fresno celebration which represents and honors the rich traditions of the Central Valley.