Silicon Valley South Asians Celebrate Eid together
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Pictures above: Glimpses of the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the India Community Center in Milipitas
Eid-ul-Fitr fell on September 10 th in the United States this year marking the end of Ramadan (known as Ramzan in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan). It is customary on the occasion to celebrate this Muslim holiday with good wishes within the family, community and especially neighbors. And keeping this neighborly spirit in mind during the events that follow this usually very festive day commonly known as “ Eid Milans”, three groups in the San Francisco Bay area got together on Saturday, September 18 th and packed the ICC facility in Milpitas to indulge in a celebration of culture which we know as our shared Tehzeeb in South Asia.
The three “guilty” parties that got everyone together to this almost standing room only event were the local Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association (AMUAA), the India Community Center (ICC) and the Pakistani American Culture Center ( PACC).
And it did turn out to be quite an evening starting with food in the Mughlai tradition followed by short introductions of each organization, a children’s program, and finally Sufi inspired entertainment by Naeem Abbas Rufi who took the gathering through memory lane inspired by the legacy of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
The ICC as the host organization ( http://www.indiacc.org/) was represented by Venky Ganesan, who spoke first. Colorfully dressed for Eid, he highlighted the organization which needs little introduction since it happens to be the largest Indian-American community center in North America (all 40,000 square feet of it). Talking to this scribe Venky said that the ICC has been set up as a place for the Indian community and other South Asians to come together and celebrate their heritage and culture. He said that Eid is about sacrifices and services and that the ICC represents similar sentiments while it serves the community.
Farrukh Shah Khan followed next with an introduction of the PACC ( http://www.pacc-ca.org/) which has been a more recent addition to the Bay Area cultural scene as it has gained recognition while celebrating events like the annual Basant kite festival in Silicon Valley . The PACC also celebrates Pakistan’s Independence Day and music events and welcomes inclusion from other South-Asian communities. PACC is also actively involved in sponsoring a number of events held by other organizations in the area.
It may come as a surprise but the oldest member of this trio is the AMUAA of Northern California ( http://amu_alumni.tripod.com/). Nihal Khan Sahib, dressed in fine Eid Sherwani, introduced the organization which represents its alumni and alma mater with a dedication that few others can match, as it also continues its efforts to educate the disadvantaged children in India. Nihal welcomed everyone and asked that this tradition of sharing our common culture be continued as a tradition from now on. He also thanked Talat and Kamil Hasan for being an important part of incubating the ICC and for the facility in which this event was being held. The next Sir Syed Day International Mushaira event is scheduled for October 30 th so please mark your calendars.
As all three organizations sent their “ Eid Mubarak” greetings, it had to be noted that no Ramadan and Eid gatherings are complete without our children being recognized for their first individual fasts and for dressing up in their finest traditional dresses. A few children were recognized for their first fasts here and thanks to Ms. Shazia, a colorful dress/fashion show was enjoyed by all the guests. The children and members of the audience also participated in singing “Lab Pey Aati Hai Dua” (A Prayer Comes to my lips) written by poet Allama Iqbal.
The last segment was the Sufi inspired song and music (plus a bit of Bollywood and Lollywood) presented by Naeem Abbas Rufi and his instrumental partners. Naeem started off with “Wohi Khuda Hai” and followed up with a medley including “Yeh Zaroori to Nahin”, “Mast Nazron Sey Allah Bachai” and a personal favorite “Sanson Ki Maala”. Punjabi hits of NFAK including “Aa Ja Tenu” and “Saanu Aik Pal Chein Na Aaway” were also very well received. “Ali Maula” and “Gorakh Dhanda” were inspirational and swayed a number of people present. Naeem has a very powerful voice, on occasion a bit overpowering for some of our middle aged ears. But his slower ballads, even without music, were greatly appreciated during the first segment (that this scribe could stay for).
To conclude, the geographical area of southern Asia from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka is culturally unique and represents a significant part of the Muslim world. It encompasses a rich and colorful mosaic of people who share many common traits. An Eid favorite, a simple plate of “savain” or sweet vermicelli can start many conversations and friendships here. And with so much turmoil in the world today, it is great to witness South-Asian neighbors sharing of the Eid spirit along with the peaceful message of the Sufis together, both within and outside the realm of religion. Eid Mubarak!