Cultural organizations share heritage at farmers market

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(From left to right) Dr. Waqar Mahmud, Dr. Jamal Mohammed, Maria Ansari, Dr. Nabiha Gill, Dr. Huma Siddiqui, Dr. Khurram Siddiqui and Zakir Akbar at the Carmel Farmers Market booth. (Photos by Sam Robinson)

(From left to right) Dr. Waqar Mahmud, Dr. Jamal Mohammed, Maria Ansari, Dr. Nabiha Gill, Dr. Huma Siddiqui, Dr. Khurram Siddiqui and Zakir Akbar at the Carmel Farmers Market booth. (Photos by Sam Robinson)

By Sam Robinson

Two local cultural organizations brought the big wide world closer to home at the Carmel armers Market on June 27.

The Pakistani American Friendship Association and the Indianapolis Russian School shared food, facts and stories about their home countries with market attendees. The Mayor’s Advisory Commission on human relations invited the groups to the market.

“This is a good way to show our culture,” said Dr. Huma Siddiqui, the president of PAFA. PAFA describes itself as a non-religious, non-political organization that seeks to promote relations between Americans and Pakistanis.

The PAFA booth had clothing, toys and trinkets made in Pakistan. They gave free samples of Samosas, a baked pastry with a vegetable filling.

They displayed prominently a picture of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist that survived a Taliban attack on her way to school. She’s now a voice for universal education.

“Do you know about Malala?” Dr. Khurram Siddiqui asked a young girl who passed the booth. “She’s our hero.”

The Indianapolis Russian School, which holds classes at University High School, had clothing, toys and trinkets from Russia. Center co-founder Katya Klauz said she wants people to know that there’s more to Russia than Vladimir Putin.

“We’re trying to improve the whole image of Russia,” Klauz said. “We’re trying to be very inclusive.”

The Indianapolis Russian School started teaching Ukrainian courses due to the Russian annexation of Crimea in early 2014. She said in her experience people want to learn more about Russian culture.

“We had 1,200 people come to our Russian festival,” she said. “All the food we made was gone before it ended.”

“We don’t want to lose our history,” said Natalia Rekhter, a co-founder of the school. “We like U.S. culture, but we also want our kids to be proud of Russian culture.”


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