Sacramento Celebrates Pakistan Independence Day
By Ras H. Siddiqui

(Pictures above): Glimpses of the Independence Day celebrations in Sacramento. Consul General N.M. Jadmani is also seen with fellow Pakistanis

Sacramento, CA: The Pakistani-American Association of Greater Sacramento revived the celebration of the Independence Day of Pakistan with a colorful gathering of over a thousand people at the Elks Lodge in California’s Capital City on Saturday, August 27, 2005. After a long hiatus of close to nine years, the Pakistani community in Sacramento decided to step up and take on the cancellation of the Lodi community’s similar annual gathering and actually improve on it so that the identity of the “home country” can be passed on to our future generation.
For those that may not be aware of the fact, the Pakistanis in California’s Central Valley (especially Lodi, Sacramento, Stockton, Yuba City and Live Oak) have been living here for almost a century, long before India’s Partition and the birth of Pakistan 58 years ago.
The oldest continually functioning Muslim mosque in this part of the world is located on “V” Street right here in Sacramento. The people that are here are predominantly of Punjabi- and Pashtu-speaking stock (and the combination Hindko speakers). Former Lyallalpur (present-day Faisalabad) and the area around Attock in Pakistan are where the majority here originates from, along with a sprinkling of Urdu speakers, Kashmiris and Sindhis (this writer has met just one ethnic Baluch in this area to this day). But as was witnessed here in Sacramento, they have not forgotten where they came from even though some of the people here are the sixth generation removed from South Asia.

Janice Miller Mechi Akbar Rizwan Shah Rap group Dream Sound

The program started off with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Munir Choudhry. Following that, speakers including Dr. Khawaja Ashraf, Pak Association President Salim Khan, Ali, Mr. Asghar Choudhry and Pakistan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Noor Muhammad Jadmani made their remarks but not before four generations of Pakistani Americans came to the stage to sing Pakistan’s National Anthem and impressed everyone present.
The speeches focused on the past, the present and the all important future of Pakistan and of Pakistanis in this area. It was a pleasure to see Ali Asghar Choudhry after a long time back here in Sacramento where his oratory once again stole the day. Our thanks to Jadmani Sahib for gracing the occasion as Pakistan’s official representative at this program and we hope to see him here again in future.
Food, fun and entertainment brings out the best in our community. Dressed in their finest, our kids and women are bright and colorful ambassadors of Pakistan in the United States. And once you add music and the Bhangra beat our young men capture the front of the stage and sometimes even get carried away with their dancing enthusiasm. So once again the entertainment segment captured everyone’s attention.
To start things on a high energy and bright note Mechi Yang, an Asian American who has adopted South Asian (Pakistani and Indian) dance as a serious pursuit, captured our attention. Following Mechi the up and coming Woodland, California based “Dream Sound” Band played a couple of numbers. Their “In My Dreams” Punjabi Rock Album is about to be released soon. They were followed by the Rap Segment in which Zaki Syed and Rizwan Shah presented some interesting thoughts that fascinated the kids, illuminated the youth present and confused the older generation. Akbar on keyboards played a couple of tunes too but the wait was for the main star of the entertainment segment and she made quite a musical entrance.

A group of youngsters Show of respect for the Pakistan flag A section of the gathering Jubilant kids

A great deal has been written about Janice Miller in this publication already. This writer has been reporting on her performance ever since she first performed for us in the San Francisco Bay area over ten years ago. Back from a trip to Pakistan she appeared very upbeat about her singing experience there in front of General Musharraf. Janice has made a career out of singing the songs of Madame Noor Jehan and Lata and more recently Shazia Manzoor. She started off with two Punjabi numbers out of which “Aa Ja Sohnya” was very well done. But not forgetting the purpose of the occasion the “Sohni Dharti” that she presented next was superb (wish its original singer Shahnaz Begum could have heard it). “Pakistan is the place to be,” said Janice. “If you are not there, you are missing out,” she said before singing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya.”
By that time the front of the stage was taken over by dancing children as Janice presented “Neher Walay Pul Tey Bula Kay,” Noor Jahan’s most popular Punjabi song ever. And by the time “Mera Long Gawacha” was sung, the front of the stage was quite a site to see for dance enthusiasts. This writer had to leave the program at that point. The fact the Janice Miller had everyone under her musical spell at that time was a great note to exit on.
In closing it was great to witness the revival of Pakistan’s Independence Day spirit in Sacramento after such a long time. With age it appears that egos have subsided and outsiders are now resigned to the fact that what some were trying to accomplish almost a decade ago was something that is valuable today. It’s just too bad that it took so long to get here from there. But with that and “better late than never” it is time close here and to congratulate the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Sacramento for making all of us in this area proud of our heritage. Pakistan Zindabad!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.