Sunday, September 10, 2000

Fests show off two cultures

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hispanics and Indians, two of the area's fastest-growing ethnic groups, shared their cultures with thousands of Greater Cincinnatians at separate festivals Saturday.

        At Festival Hispano 2000 in Carthage, festivalgoers feasted on foods from a dozen Spanish-speaking countries while filling their ears with salsa, merengue and Latin ballads. In its seventh year, the festival has grown to several thousand people.

[photo] Kiran Dayal (left) and Meena Sondhi look over material at the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati in Clermont County's Union Township on Saturday.
(Tony Jones photos)
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        “We are trying to educate and share with as many people as possible to teach them where we come from, what we eat and what we do,” said Catalina Landivar-Simon, who is in charge of the food at the Hispanic festival, which continues this afternoon, at St. Charles Borromeo Church.

        At the inaugural Mela celebration, the sights and sounds of India were obvious: Women donned their traditional saris and men wore their dhotis. The smells of mouth-watering dishes from India filled the air and dancers moved gracefully on the grounds of the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati in Clermont County's Union Township.

        “We have a lot to learn. There are a lot of wonderful things about India that we can learn and absorb,” said Ed Ritchy of Amelia, who says he is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. “They have wonderful family ties, and we've lost that in our society.”

More Indian immigrants

        Madhu Sharma, chairwoman of religious activities at the Hindu Temple, said there are at least 2,000 Indian families in the Tristate, up from more than 1,400 who settled here between 1985 and 1996, according to Immigration and Naturalization Service data.

        Most are moving to Anderson Township, Blue Ash, Clifton, Indian Hill, Sharonville and West Chester. Some migrate from other parts of the United States; many immigrate from India.

[photo] Karla Knox (left) and Danielle Godale of Paco, a Caribbean dance group, entertain at Festival Hispano.
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        The immigration trend unfolding in Greater Cincinnati mirrors the national immigration pattern. Indians were the third-largest immigrant group to the United States in 1996, after Mexicans and Filipinos, according to the INS.

        Because adopting some American practices is inevitable, many parents try to keep their children in tune with their heritage through events like Saturday's festival, which featured a cultural program.

        “We worship (at the temple), we socialize, we have parties, we do cultural programs and we involve our kids so they feel as if they are in India,” said Mrs. Sharma of Anderson Township, whose family has lived in Cincinnati for 17 years.

Growing number of Hispanics
  What: Hispanic Festival 2000.
  When: 1-10 p.m. today.
  Where: St. Charles Borromeo Church, 115 W. Seymour Ave., Carthage.
  Admission: Free.
  Information: 761-1588.
  Directions: From Interstate 75, take Paddock Road exit and travel west on Paddock, turn right on Seymour Avenue. Travel several blocks to church (look for street closure)

        At the Hispanic festival, Mrs. Landivar-Simon was busy making sure there was enough food to go around. The festival is one way she maintains her culture.

        “I really want to see (the festival) become big,” she said.

        The Oakley woman left Ecuador in 1993 to attend graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned her master's degree in community planning and an MBA.

        She had planned to return home to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, but because of political and economic turmoil back home, she plans to stay.

        Mrs. Landivar-Simon is among a growing number of Hispanics moving to Greater Cincinnati.

        The Tristate has seen a 39 percent increase in Hispanic population between 1990 and 1998, with the number in the eight counties around Cincinnati estimated at almost 13,000 in 1998, according to Census officials. Louis Valencia, president of the Pan American Society of Greater Cincinnati, estimates there are 55,000 Hispanics living in the Tristate.

        Many Hispanics moving here are younger families, and rely on help from the more established Hispanic community to overcome such things as language barriers and obtaining health care. They are coming from countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Peru; some migrate from larger American cities.

        Much of the local Hispanic population is transient or underground because many people are here illegally, said Fernando Poppe, director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Covington. The latest wave of Hispanic immigrants is generally poorer than the Tristate's established Hispanic residents, he said. Newcomers are concentrated in areas such as Hamilton, Fairfield, Lower Price Hill, Springdale, Covington, Florence and Newport.

        “Hispanic people who were already here have opened a lot of doors for us, and we're taking advantage of the opportunities,” said Marta Santiago, 30, who moved here five years ago from Puerto Rico, and now lives in St. Bernard.

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