The park as cultural center

Creek and Cotton at the Himalayan Fair
Creek and Cotton at the Himalayan Fair
Prayer Flags add color to the park
Prayer Flags add color to the park

This weekend Live Oak Park in Berkeley transformed itself into a small part of the Himalayas for the annual Himalayan Fair.  The redwoods were draped with colorful prayer flags, the smell of exotic spices wafted down the creek, and the music of the sub-continent hung in the air. The grassy green was transformed into a colorful bazar where Tibetan prayer bowls jostled with cotton scarves for space.

As one lady who passed me said, “I love this festival, it reminds me of Berkeley in the 60’s.”

It reminded me of the week I spent in India last year. True, Delhi and Jaipur had a greater press of humanity and the colors and smells were more intense. But it’s the closest you can get without the long plane ride over the poles.  Our boys sat happily munching Tibetan momo’s and then jigged along to the Indian dancers. This is what urban parks are all about — giving people spaces to come and enjoy the outdoors,  community, and just occasionally the taste and smell of a distant land. And for the Tibetan community in the Bay Area its one of their biggest fundraisers of the year — thousands of delicious momo’s get made fresh and eaten by the hungry visitors!

What other cultural festivals do you enjoy that take place in parks?

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