This past weekend, the City of Southfield hosted the fourth annual Chaldean Festival in the Southfield municipal center. The Detroit area is home to the largest Arabic speaking population outside of the Middle East. It is estimated that 120,000 Chaldean Americans live in the Metropolitan Detroit area.
Although Chaldean Americans make up the majority of Iraqi immigrants to the United States, they embody less than 10 percent of the total Iraqi population. While most Iraqis, like other Arabic nations, are Muslim, Chaldeans are Roman Catholic and practice one of the 18 to 20 regional rites of the Catholic Church.
Â They also differ from other Iraqis because their native language is not Arabic but a dialect of Aramaic, also referred to as Chaldean, Assyrian, or Syriac. It is reportedly the language spoken by Jesus Christ. Because of their religious and language differences from other Iraqi immigrants, Chaldeans have created their own separate society in America.
The Chaldean migration to the Detroit area began in 1889. The migration increased as members of the community found employment and business opportunities in the area. As they settled, they assisted others in leaving their homeland. Most migrated from the town of Telkaif, which is a Christian town in the northern Iraqi province of Mosul, near the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh. They have long established roots in the Detroit area. Chaldeans have been in the area much longer than most other Middle Eastern immigrants. They want to be distinguished from more recent Muslim immigrants.
This is the fourth year of the festival in Southfield. The festival has really expanded over the years. This yearâ€™s event featured a midway, rides, booths, food, a sound stage, and various vendor booths. The event was really quite impressive this year. Admission to the festival was free. The festival is sponsored annually by the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the city of Southfield.
The purpose of the event is to focus on embracing diversity and share the Chaldean culture with residents of the metro area.