Brooklyn Boro

Friendship Day celebrates Brooklyn’s ethnic diversity

Festival Showcased Music, Dance And Food from the World’s Regions

August 9, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Aeilushi Mistry performed an Indian Garba Dance at Borough Hall Plaza on Aug. 7 and later danced with spectators to Pakistani and Punjabi melodies. The origins of the word “garba” deal with the womb, fertility and gestation. The garba dance is performed around a clay lantern with a light inside, symbolizing life. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams marched arm-in-arm with Muslim-American veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as scores of New Yorkers from more than 80 countries who bore the flags of 195 nations. Together they kicked off the third annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn last Sunday, Aug. 7.

International Day of Friendship marked the signature event in Adams’ “Embrace Your Hyphen” campaign that encourages Americans to honor their diversity. Adams, along with foreign dignitaries, spoke about the importance of diversity in Brooklyn, with specific comments aimed at rebuking presidential candidate Donald’s Trump’s criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim-American parents of fallen Army Capt. Humayun Khan.

“I call on all Brooklynites to ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ as Americans with distinct heritage,” said Adams. “International Day of Friendship reflects the beauty of a borough where 47 percent of households speak a language other than English at home, more than one-third of residents were born overseas and the sounds of many different languages are the music of our street corners. I invite everyone to stand with me in our diversity as One Brooklyn.”

Cultural performances celebrated all of the world’s regions. Representing Africa were Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, offering a tribute to South Africa; the St. Nicks Alliance, staging their tribute to Sierra Leone; and the Yasser Darwish Egyptian Celebration Company, performing the Tanoura.

Representing the Americas were Brooklyn Children’s Theatre Inc., singing an original song about Brooklyn; the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company, performing a traditional Garifuna dance; The D.R.E.A.M. Ring, showcasing Brooklyn flex dancing, and James Lovell, showcasing Afri-Garifuna jazz.

Representing Asia were Aeilushi Mistry, dancing the Indian Garba; Aziz Peerezada, playing traditional Pakistani folk songs on the tabla; the Dancing Crane Georgian Cultural Center, performing a number of Georgian folk dances; Jenny Luna and Dolunay, sharing traditional Turkish songs; and Rhythm Tolee, showcasing a Punjabi dance.

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Representing the Caribbean were Irka Mateo, who played mestizo music from the Dominican Republic; and Tropical Image Dance Company, a lady-gentleman duo showcasing bachata, mambo and salsa.

Balkan musicians Eva Salina and accompanist sang haunting melodies from the region’s Romany tradition about love, loss and goodbyes.

Representing Oceania, which includes the Hawaiian Islands, was Kaina Quenga, performing and teaching spectators the hula.

Free tastings of international cuisine were available from Brooklyn Born LLC, representing Africa; Debbie’s Sweet Treats and Yankee Doodle Dandy’s, representing the Americas; Desi Food Truck and Kazi Halal, representing Asia; Nio’s Trinidad Roti Truck, representing the Caribbean; and La Bella Torte, representing Europe.

Sponsors for Adams’ third annual International Day of Friendship included Investors Bank, MetroPlus Health Plan, NYC & Company and Target and it was held in partnership with the Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn NAACP, Huang Xiang, Hubert’s Lemonade, New York State Court Officers Association, Resorts World Casino, Subway and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

As with previous years, Adams capped his International Day of Friendship celebration with a mass singing of “We Are the World.”

 

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