Crossroads Bellevue is already known for embracing a wide spectrum of clientele, as well asa plethora of international cuisine – but this weekend the community gathering spot took the celebration of diversity to the next level, with the 22nd annual Cultural Crossroads event.
Organized by the Ethnic Heritage Council, the free celebration once again featured a selection of the area’s best ethnic entertainment, an international bazaar, and exhibits from all around the world.
On Saturday afternoon, a Sangeet Moksha (“devotional song”) group performed classical Indian songs and Ragas on the Market Stage. An offshoot of Seattle-based meditation center Sahaja Meditation, the 8-person musical group is led by Pramod Shete, and has been performing at the Cultural Crossroads event for the past five years.
Vera Tatarnikova has been volunteering at Sahaja for 12 years. She said it helps here clear her mind, and has become a great activity for her family to do together.
“My husband and my 5-year-old meditate too,” she said. “It’s great for children’s attention. It helps them clear their minds.”
Tatarnikova said the performance at Cultural Crossroads is a great opportunity to share spiritual music with the community and to inform them about the classes offered on the Eastside. In addition to their location in Northgate, Sahaja Meditation currently offers free classes at Crossroads on Thursdays in the Community Room.
Yuri Frumkin has been playing clarinet most of his life, but started playing with Sangeet Moksha approximately three years ago.
“It’s spiritual music,” he said. “When you listen to it, it just makes you happy.”
Although Sangeet Moshka originated in India, it is played throughout the world.”This music is not bound to one religion,” said Shete, who has been studying meditation and playing spiritual music for more than 20 years.
Rather, the songs are rooted in several different countries and traditions, including the Muslim and Hindu faiths. The music, which incorporates singing and chanting, alongside instruments such as drums and sitar, varies in tempo, but maintains a fluid, calming effect.
“You can feel it when you play,” Frumkin said.
Also present was the Kabuki Academy of Tacoma. Founded by Mary Mariko Ohno, the academy has been performing Japanese dance and Shamisen music at Cultural Crossroads since its inception.
Dressed in traditional Japanese performance attire, Ohno and her students performed on the dance stage outside of Pier 1 Imports on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to live performances, this year’s celebration includes a number of vendors selling goods from the likes of Russia, Peru and Africa, as well as activities for children.
Cultural Crossroads continues tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Crossroads Bellevue. For more information, and for a complete schedule of events, go to the Ethnic Heritage Council website.