Seattle Celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr with Unprecedented Fervor and Festivity
By Owais Jafrey
Glimpses of the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations organized by the Pakistan Association of Greater Seattle
Washington State Governor Christine O. Gregoire extended warm greetings, and Eid Mubarak on a “memorable evening of celebration and fellowship” to the attendees of Eid Dinner at Bellevue’s Westin sponsored by the Pakistan Association of Greater Seattle. In her heart warming message she said: “…I applaud each of you for your wonderful example of faith and generosity. Together, we can renew hope for a brighter and more prosperous future for us all. Tonight’s event also reminds us that diversity is one of Washington’s greatest strengths. I count it a privilege to have a vibrant Pakistani American and broader Muslim community contributing to the social, artistic, and economic vitality of our state. Thank your for helping to make the great state of Washington what it is today.”
Following Maghrib prayers, MC Mr. Asad Faizi set the evening into motion and invited Sahibzadah Ahmed R. Rizvi, who reciting from the Holy Qur’an, “Read! In the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, Who taught by [means of] the pen, Who taught man what he did not know” highlighted the evening’s theme of “Knowledge and Education”.
Association’s president, Mr. Mumtaz Malik welcoming the guests expressed his profound thanks to the State Governor for her message. Amid great applause, he welcomed Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressman Mr. Jay Inslee, and the metropolitan King County Council’s Chair, Mr. Dow Constantine, as these three were the evening’s chief guests. The hall reverberated with cheers, when Mr. Malik announced the Pakistan Cricket Team’s victory over India in the ICC match.
The Association’s mission is to bring the Pakistani community together and enhance Pakistan’s image and ideology in keeping with the Father of the Nation, Quid-i-Azam’s motto of Unity, Faith and Discipline, said Mr. Malik. Emphasizing the theme of Education, he said that the Association has been championing the cause of education in Pakistan since its very inception. Working with the US-based nonprofit organization HDF, the Association has been able to establish a girls’ school in the region which was devastated by the 2005 earthquake. This is an ongoing project, he added. He eulogized the congressional leaders for their contribution towards environment and jobs in Washington and their continuous support for the people of Pakistan. “On a personal note, I would like to thank Senator Cantwell and Congressman Inslee for their effort in creating fair and competitive environment with Airbus”, he added.
Mr. Rizwan Samad while introducing Senator Maria Cantwell threw light on her accomplishments on the domestic and foreign fronts. He complimented her for sponsoring the ROZ (Reconstruction of Opportunity Zone) bill for the economic betterment of Pakistan’s NWFP and Baluchistan provinces. “The dark days of Bush administration are behind us [laughter] and we look forward to an era where Muslims will enjoy their civil and constitutional rights and will be treated equally as Americans under President Obama’s administration and political leaders like Cantwell”, added Mr. Samad. He presented her a plaque in recognition of the ROZ bill and her continuous support for the people of Pakistan.
Senator Cantwell, who flew from Washington, DC to attend the Eid dinner, thanked Mr Rizwan Samad, “a political leader in the making” (laughter), and said: “I am honored to receive this award and I will do everything in my power to help Pakistan and her people in their quest for better future.” She said that she was the first in her family to go to college, and hence she knew the importance of education. Recalling her visit to Pakistan, she said: “We have here all the opportunities in the world, now it is time for the US to export the opportunities to all over the world.” She also mentioned Boeing and thanked Mr. Mumtaz Malik for building a great airplane “the dream liner” right here in Washington (cheers and laughter). “Eid Mubarak to you all”, she concluded.
Attorney at Law Mr. Khalil Khan introduced Congressman Jay Inslee and lauded his support for the Muslim community. Mr. Inslee said that he was honored to celebrate Eid with the Pakistani community. He greeted the audience with Eid Mubarak and congratulated the gathering on Pakistan’s cricket victory (thunderous applause). “In Seattle, the richness of diversity comes from communities like yours for which I am thankful”, said the congressman. He complimented The Citizens’ Foundation for spearheading the cause of education in Pakistan. He said he would help any way that the under-privileged kids can get education. He commended Pakistan government for standing up to violence and terrorism. “Not only moral, but I have personal interest in the Muslim community”, he concluded.
Mr. Asad Faizi, who kept quoting from the inspirational poetry of poet/philosopher Iqbal with regards to acquisition of knowledge, mentioned that The Citizens’ Foundation had raised $2, 40, 000.00 to support educational projects in Pakistan. He introduced Mr. Dow Constantine; the King County Council’s Chairman as a great friend of Pakistani community and highlighted his accomplishments, especially in transportation and safety beside other areas.
Mr. Dow, who considered himself to be fortunate in witnessing 20,000 Muslims performing Eid prayers at Qwest Field arena earlier in the day, said that he was amazed to see the power and joy and the spirit of the festival. He admired the Pakistani community in its fight for justice and equal opportunity and for enriching King County by its cultural and economic contributions. “ King County is so rich in diversity that before coming to Eid dinner, I had attended three ethnic events, and I am looking forward to the great food,” added Mr. Dow.
Anushe Nasr’s slide show “ Pakistan - People & Places” ran on big TV screens while the dinner aroma filled the air. It was a feast with 14 sumptuous spicy dishes and deserts catered by Garam Masala, city’s famous restaurant. Association’s Asif Nasr, Kamran Salahuddin, and Munir Rizvi, visited each table greeting Eid Mubarak and exchanging pleasantries with guests. Children were entertained in the adjoining hall by a magician while enjoying pizza treats.
Dinner was followed by family games, and questions and answers from Pakistan’s culture and history and presentation of awards to the winners. Mr. Rizwan Nasr, amid applause was recognized for bringing out the Association’s official colorful organ Pakbaan.
Excitement rose high when the living legend Munni Begum came to the stage. She with her drummer enthralled the audience with her hit lyrics and ghazals like Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi, Tumhar-e-shahr ka mausam barha suhana lagey, Awargi mein had se guzar jana chahiyey, Ek baar muskrat do and many others. As $ bills kept showering the stage, she transported her audience into ecstasy by her last performance of the evening “Laal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bala Jhoole Laalan O Laal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bala.” This memorable evening came to a close at past midnight.