FOSA Celebrates Eid and Diwali Jointly
By A.H. Cemendtaur


Pictures Above: Glimpses of the FOSA

Identity. What a funny concept! Human beings coated with shades of persuasion. Gender, ethnicity, faith, language, culture, values: except for the first two all being adopted identities, if that...for in most cases they are thrust upon people when they grow up in a certain group. Take a child from one group, right after birth, to a different community and the child would grow up to hold dear a set of completely different identities. And then such pride, vanity in those secondhand, borrowed ideas! Funny indeed!
Last century when the colonial masters decided to leave South Asia, it was pretty much given that the days of kings and despots were over and that the affairs of emerging South Asian state(s) would be decided by the populace. Enter democracy, the will of the people. And then came the mistrust. In voting for a person what identity would people most relate to; would it be simply a person’s ideals and track record, or would it be the religious, linguistic, cultural, or regional affiliation of that person. In contriving countries, South Asia, like most places in the Old World, could be fractured along a myriad of fault lines. Ultimately the pie was cut along religious boundaries.
The region has never come out of that trauma. The legacy of that religion-based identity recognition asserts itself in the politics of South Asia every single day, and some days more bloodily than others.
On November 11, Friends of South Asia (FOSA, www.friendsofsouthasia.org), a group of Bay Area Indian and Pakistani activists, in their annual tradition to make bridges between religious communities held a joint celebration of Eid and Diwali.
FOSA invited individuals from other peace groups and like-minded organizations. Over forty-five people attended the program held at Union City Library Community Room. This correspondent did not get to meet everyone but the organizers informed that a number of Bay Are groups including AID, ASHA, Maitri, and Bay Area Tamil Manram had their representatives in attendance.
Dinner was followed by a series of presentations. Ramkumar Sridharan who was also the event manager emceed the program. Navanee Sundaramoorthy from AID (Association for India’s Development) talked about AID’s involvement in recent earthquake relief efforts.
Saqib Mausoof who visited earthquake affected areas right after the disaster in 2005 gave a presentation on relief efforts in Pakistan. The third presentation was from Anu Mandavilli, FOSA's president, who spoke on California textbook controversy. Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) concluded the program informing the audience about FOSA's history and its current programs.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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