Celebrating Sri Lanka
Throughout much of the summer, NARA Park in Acton is a bastion of Americana, with beach swimming, bounce houses, hamburger vendors, tribute bands, and even Fourth of July fireworks.
But this Saturday, NARA Park reflects the region’s multiculturalism as it welcomes the Sri Lankan community along with the general public to the fourth annual Sri Lankan Day, a celebration of food, music, art, and tradition sponsored by the Sri Lankan Association of New England (SLANE).
Shihara Shafeque of Southborough attended her first SLANE event, a New Year’s celebration, two years ago. Having moved to the United States from her native Sri Lanka to attend Northeastern and then staying for a job at Genzyme, she was surprised to discover that there was such a large Sri Lankan presence in the Boston suburbs — and that so many of them had been here for decades.
“Many of the people I met at that first event had moved here 40 years ago,” she said. This year she is at the helm of the annual Sri Lankan Day, which is expected to draw dozens of vendors offering traditional food, crafts, clothing, tea, spices and more. There will even be a booth devoted to Buddhism and the practice of meditation.
Shafeque looks forward to the chance to taste a wide variety of culinary treats from her homeland.
“Many people assume Sri Lankan food is the same as that from India,” she said. In fact, the cuisine of Sri Lanka reflects the nation’s successive phases of colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, along with Muslim influences. Guests who arrive at Sri Lankan Day with an appetite might choose Portuguese pastries, British savories filled with potatoes and mutton, Indian Biryani, or drinks made of sweetened milk.
And the entertainment will remind Sri Lankans like Shafeque of home also, with traditional music and dancing. Children can practice crafts while inhaling the scents of teas and spices, and to Shafeque, this is one of the hallmarks of the event: the chance for American-raised children to be exposed to their Sri Lankan heritage.
“When you grow up here, you can forget that we have our own unique culture,” she said. “Our traditions will fade away if we don’t pass them on. This is a good reminder for young and old alike of what it means to have Sri Lankan ancestry.”
The fourth annual Sri Lankan Day takes place this Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. at NARA Park, 25 Ledge Rock Way, Acton. Admission is free; proceeds from the vendor stalls will go to a number of local charities.
DOMINICAN SCENES: “¡Domincanos!,” an exhibit of recent works by Westborough photographer Ian Tink, is on display through Oct. 21 at the Westboro Gallery, 8 West Main St., Westborough. The show consists of hundreds of images of Dominicans both in the Dominican Republic and in the Boston area, with a focus on everyday life including families and relationships, work, leisure, tourism, and the famous carnivals in Santiago and La Vega. Gallery hours are Sundays 12-3 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and Fridays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call 508-870-0110 or go to www.westborogallery.com.
VISIT WONDERLAND: Enter Stage Left Theater presents “Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” a production featuring summer workshop participants from grades 1 to 8, at the Hopkinton Middle School, 88 Hayden Rowe St., Friday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for HCA Stage Door members and seniors, and are available at the door or at www.enterstagelefttheater.org.
ROCK FOR A CAUSE: Plugged-In, a nonprofit youth rock band program based in Needham, presents “Rainbow Rock Alliance: A Benefit Concert for the West Suburban Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth” Friday evening from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Powers Hall, 1471 Highland Ave., Needham. All five summer session student bands will perform along with Santi and Sons, a classic rock band led by one of the program’s instructors. Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 seniors, and $5 students. For more information, go to www.pluggedinband.org
SHAKESPEARE OUTSIDE: The Gazebo Players of Medfield, a theater troupe made up of a predominantly local cast, kicks off its second decade of free Shakespeare in the Park performances with the tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra” this Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Gazebo, 468 Main St., Medfield. In case of rain, the performances will be at the Montrose School (29 North St.). Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic to outdoor performances. Light refreshments will be available. For more information, go to www.gazeboplayers.com.
FUSION SOUNDS: Scottish fiddle, Cuban and Brazilian rhythms, jazz harmony, and improvisation come together when Neil Pearlman and his fusion band Alba’s Edge perform Saturday evening in Arlington. In addition to the musical performances, the show will feature Scottish Highland dancers from the Victoria Major and Cathie Peitzsch Gibbs schools of Scottish Dance in a choreography that melds tradition with modern artistry. A traditional music session will follow the performance. 7 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church, 74 Pleasant St, Arlington. Tickets are $15 general admission, and $12 students and children. For tickets or more information, call 781-648-4819 or go to www.neilpearlman.com.
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