Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: During ItalfestMTL, I will enjoy Italian culture

It’s time to reconnect, rediscover what we share with our neighbors, and have some fun.

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For many of us, a certain joy comes from embracing our roots. It helps us land and feed.

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Before the pandemic, I used to thrive not only at events that showcased my own culture and tradition, but also those that honored others other than mine. I would marvel at the passion with which the organizers organized them, a passion that I also saw reflected in the events in my own communities. I would leave culturally richer, reflecting on the similarities and differences between cultures, and riding high for days.

This summer, I love seeing our city rejuvenate with the festivals and events that we sorely miss. Walking around downtown Montreal with friends recently had me grinning from ear to ear. The fresh air, the sounds and smells of a cool summer night, and the hustle and bustle of the crowds around me filled me with excitement.

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As I have become acquainted with the city’s diverse cultural and religious communities over the years, it never fails to remind me how similar we are. Not a few of us thrive on connection, family, celebrating our heritage, and coming together with others who share our language, food, and traditions. Seeing my friends’ large Italian or Greek families gather around the table to feast on a Sunday dinner would remind me of my large brown family growing up. The food on the table might look different, but the love, laughter, and memories created were the same. There is something universal about wanting safety and security for our family, earning a good living, having a sense of purpose, and being a part of something bigger than ourselves.

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I love taking my children with me to cultural events: to explore new places, people and traditions. I love hearing them tell me about sharing what they learned with a friend who comes from the background in question. This is how we grow our communities. It’s like traveling without getting on a plane. (Okay, that may be stretching things a bit, but I say this as someone who hasn’t done any significant travel in three years.)

I am just as excited when I try pastéis de natas with my Portuguese friends, kourabiedes with my Greek friends, or fresh varenyky (perogies) with my Ukrainian friends. Food brings people together. It’s no different when I share a plate of piping hot samosas and a cup of cardamom-infused chai in return.

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Now that public health measures have been eased, Montrealers are celebrating like never before, and I love it, even considering the fact that COVID is still going around. I admire the photos and videos that friends share of their weekend barbecues with loved ones, family reunions after many years apart, and community events.

Although I’m clearly not Italian, I was excited to hear that ItalfestMTL is coming up. It works from August 5 to 20. I could honestly say that what appeals to me is my longstanding interest in building bridges between communities, something that strengthens our society as a whole. But we’re also talking about pizza, cannolis and cappuccinos, wow!

It’s time to make up for lost time and enjoy Italian culture during ItalfestMTL, formerly known as Italian Week. There is a variety of free programming available throughout the city. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn something.

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There has been enough isolation in the last two years. We have lost so much, from loved ones to time.

It’s time to reconnect, rediscover what we share with our neighbors, and have some fun.

So when these various festivals take place across the city, we should take the opportunity to celebrate each other. So get some friends together, clean out your calendars, and check out their schedule. at italfestmtl.ca. Who knows? It may just be love.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and editor-in-chief of CanadianMomEh.coma lifestyle blog.

FarihaNaqviMohamed.com

twitter.com/canadianmomeh

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