packistan festival at tempe town toilet this weekend.
East Valley news briefs
Jan. 28, 2006 12:00 AM
Pakistani spring festival floats into Tempe park
TEMPE - The hundreds of kites flying in Tempe Beach Park on Sunday won't just fill the sky with brilliant colors, they'll also fill minds and stomachs with a taste of one of the biggest celebrations in Pakistan: Basant Mela.
The festival traditionally hails the beginning of spring and the harvest. The Valley's Pakistan Information and Cultural Organization is re-creating that springtime festival atmosphere for the fourth year.
There will be Pakistani food, street games and live music, as well as crafts, jewelry and clothing sales.
The free festival is 11 a.m.7 p.m. Information: www .pakistaninformation.org or (480) 515-2030.
Go fly a kite with Pakistanis Hundreds expected at Basant Mela celebration Sunday
Katie Nelson The Arizona Republic Jan. 28, 2006 12:00 AM
The hundreds of kites flying in Tempe Beach Park on Sunday won't just fill the sky with brilliant colors, they'll also fill minds and stomachs with a taste of one of the biggest celebrations in Pakistan, Basant Mela.
Other Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries have similarly huge kite flying festivals, like the one in Afghanistan, depicted in the best-selling novel The Kite Runner. The same director who did Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland is also making a big-budget Hollywood movie based on the book written by Afghani-American Khaled Hosseini.
The Kite Runner describes a man's boyhood memories of the spring day people crowd rooftops and sun decks - any place with a good skyward view - to socialize and watch children fly specially made fighting kites. He recalls how they used abrasive string covered with fine, powdered glass to cut down one another's kites. The story also centers on the children's desire to catch the fallen kites, which turn into treasured prizes.
The Basant Mela festival traditionally hails the beginning of spring and the harvest, according to Christopher Miller, a research librarian at Arizona State University. People of most religions in countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh take part in the festival, although it might trace to Hindi roots.
The Valley's Pakistan Information and Cultural Organization, or PICO, is re-creating that springtime festival atmosphere but on a less intense level: PICO's version of Basant Mela will focus more on flying than fighting because the kite flyers will use less abrasive string.
This weekend, the organization will also sell delicate paper kites made in Pakistan, so lightweight they are easy to fly even without much wind, said Javed Kaif, of Scottsdale, who is one of the organizers. People can also fly kites brought from home.
In addition to focusing eyes on the sky, there will be Pakistani food: shish kebabs, curries, samosas and papri chaat. There will be street games, live music, and crafts, jewelry and clothing to buy.
It's the fourth year the Valley's PICO has held Basant Mela, but the first time the festival has taken place in Tempe. In recent years, the concept has taken off with hundreds coming for the festival from throughout the Valley and surrounding cities and states, Kaif said. This year, the group hopes to capitalize on the popularity of The Kite Runner and draw even more people.
"We want this to be a way to introduce our traditions and culture to our children and to the wider population as well," said Kaif, a father of two who has lived in the United States for the past 25 years.