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Our national festival: "la diada de Cataluña"

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Written by Susanna Arús Translated by Jamie Broadway

What better way to start than with the introduction of our national festival, la Diada de Cataluña, (the national day of Catalonia). Sunday 11th September 2011 was a day that enjoyed good weather and temperatures that would have been more in keeping with a day in August, and it was also this day that the Diada returned to unite the best of our region in order to showcase and celebrate Catalan identity. Two of the first events of the celebration unfolded in Parc de la Ciutadella and the Paseo Lluís Companys (the Arco de Triunfo). An enormous “estelada” (the independent flag of Catalonia) was hung from the Arco de Triunfo and it majestically dominated the avenue which was already inundated with white marquees. And once again, Òmnium Cultural had returned to organise to great success a programme packed full of activities.

No-one enjoyed the Diada as much as the children did. There was a variety of workshops catering for all different tastes : sporting activities, handicrafts, face-painting and even concerts aimed at just the youngsters. All the symbols of Catalan culture were present at the festival. Throughout the course of the day, spectators were treated to little exhibits of castells (human towers) and traditional Catalan dancing in the middle of the avenue. And just as one would have predicted, there were representatives from all different backgrounds : teenagers, children, families, grandparents… And there was even a group of motorcyclists that paraded up the Paseo Lluís Companys beeping their horns to the rhythm of the chant, “In-inde-Independencia ! ”.

The Diada is not just a day of festivities, but it is also the reclaiming of a culture, of a language and of an identity. It is for this reason that amongst the sea of white marquees, talks and debates about the pressing issues of the Catalan nation were organised. The Paseo Lluís Companys leads into Parc de la Ciutadella, where a Catalan book fair was held. Walking between the little wooden book stands you were able to find a wind range of Catalan literature from today and from yesteryear. Due to the sun and dust from the park, little refuges in the shade were set up ; havens where you could listen to readings from fragments of Catalan narrative and poetry.

The day was drawing to an end and the last events of the Diada began. A protest, armed with a sea of flags and placards with the motto “We are a nation, we want self-determination” travelled across the centre of Barcelona, moving in the direction towards the Arco del Triunfo. Music from “grallers” (traditional Catalan musicians) and the proclamations of the protesters accompanied the march. Everyone ended up reuniting in the Paseo Lluís Companys where just minutes afterwards they were treated to a concert from the groups Quart Primero, La Troba Kung-fú and Obrint Pas that concluded the day in rhythms of pop/rock and Catalan rumba. The fantastic Toni Albà livened up the intervals between the groups, making the spectators roar with laughter with his impersonations of the ex-president Aznar, the King of Spain and the Pope.

Once again la Diada de Cataluña was and still is a festive and relaxed way to demand and proclaim the independency of the Catalan people.