A Spirited Independence Day Celebration in Sacramento

By Zaki Syed

Glimpses of the 60th Independence Day celebrations in Sacramento

Sacramento, CA: It is 4:30 PM at the Mondavi Center in Davis, California, and all is calm and quiet. The Pakistan Independence Day function is scheduled to start in two hours, which means that it is really going to start in three hours, according to an unwritten rule amongst desis. But the event starts at 6:32 PM - ON TIME - as the Center begins to get packed.
As per tradition the event started with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Imam Qasmi. To kick off the event Reaa Ali and Izza Khan sing the American and Pakistani National anthems with a group of kids singing along in the background.
The Pakistani American Association of Sacramento (PAAS) president Bashir Choudry welcomed the audience. He stressed the need to make the Pakistani American Association a platform for the advancement of the community and youth. Afterwards, a video montage produced by WBT-TV for PAAS was shown. This included patriotic songs and pictures and video clips displaying the life in Pakistan.
Ifftikar Wahla spoke on behalf of the Pakistani youth. He talked about the responsibility of the Pakistani American youths and what they can do to better the future of Pakistan and the USA. Following his speech, Arif Mansuri, President and Managing Editor of Pakistan Link, also addressed the gathering. He talked about the importance of the youth and encouraged them to write and get into the media. Mr Mansuri is an accomplished businessman and community activist. He stressed the importance of the media and offered his help to the Pakistani-American community to get into the print media. Last but not the least was the Pakistani Consul General Syed Ibne Abbas who talked about the practical efforts one could make to better Pakistan.
Dream Sounds, a rising band in Sacramento, then performed two of their hit songs for the thrilled audience.
The Davis Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef came up to give a speech and in the middle of his address the fire alarm went off, the security panicked, evacuating the Chancellor and all the performers backstage and the audience. Everyone was asked to wait until the fire department and police arrived. Pakistan Link reporter noticed that Sajjad Ali, the main event singer, was waiting outside with everyone else. No one knows what he was thinking about, but Ali didn’t look too thrilled. After a thorough investigation it was discovered that it was a false alarm and probably was pulled by a couple of kids as a joke. However, they were not able to figure out which kids did it (if they did it). By the time everyone was allowed in again it was 8 o’clock, and true to Pakistani standards, the place was then packed.
The Davis Chancellor finally got his chance to speak and talked about the need for partnerships around the world as well as partnerships with Pakistani universities. Then Davis Mayor Sue Greenwald came up and addressed the gathering saying that Davis is a vibrant community, very multicultural, and that Pakistanis should be proud of their heritage.
It was now time for the music concert. Zaki Syed, an aspiring rapper and student in Sacramento, entertained the audience with a rap about desi dads and how it is like to live with them. Drums were played by Dream Sounds musician/singer/drummer. He did an impromptu rap on the spot given to him by the Chancellor on the “environment”. To finish it off he rapped a song for Pakistan called “Hamara Pakistan, Tumhara Pakistan” and had the crowd screaming “Pakistan Zindabad”. Followed by that performance was Imran and his band Pachaan. They had the crowd going crazy with their bhangra beats and rhythmic style. Clapping and chanting, the crowd was now really charged and making noise. People danced in their seats. In the meantime the kids and the teenagers were coming back and forth from the hall listening a little then going back out to meet up with friends, and show off their clothing. It’s a sight to see especially the ABCDs ( American Born Confused Desis) who were wearing clothing that represents Pakistan, but instead of shalwar kameez, they were wearing green baseball caps backwards, sunglasses, and baggy shirts that say Pakistani pride. It was Pakistan hip hop style and a typical Pakistani-American concert. However, at this time the Mondavi security appears confused: they have never seen such excitement before.
D Ali was next in line to entertain the crowd. His performance electrified the crowd. Rabi Pirzada with her singing added to the audience excitement.

Glimpses of the 60th Independence Day celebrations in Sacramento

Soon the emcee announced that Sajjad Ali the “main event” was about to perform. All the teenagers outside ran into the center with full force, and started Bhangra as Sajjad Ali performed his hit songs “Chief Sahab” and “Babia”. The dancing teenagers started moving towards the center in what looked like a “ chu, chu train”. They started doing a hip hop dance that is sweeping the streets of California and is known as “hyphy”. They came back and Sajjad Ali kept on singing, giving high fives to the crowd as Dream Sound guitarist Anwar played the background music. The crowd was going crazy singing along, and even raising people onto each others’ shoulders and trying to throw them onto the stage. However, time was running out and the show had to come to an end. The organizers thanked everyone and the event was over officially. However, the party was not over as a group of youth found a drummer who played the “dhol” and they Bhangra-danced in the parking lot and yelled, shouted, cheered at cars that drove by.
It was rumored that the event cost about thirty thousand dollars, but if you ask me it was well worth it. It was one day that Pakistani people from all over California could just come and hang out and be Pakistani. The smile on the kids faces, the teenagers jumping up and down, the uncles and aunties clapping at the back, a day they will remember forever. The excitement, high energy level and fun, were proof that you can take the Pakistanis out of Pakistan, but you can’t take the Pakistan out of them. Like I said before it was a Pakistan Independence Day celebration, and Pakistanis celebrated it the Pakistani way. Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad!!!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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