Sacramento Celebrates Pakistan Independence Day & Eid together
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Sacramento celebrated both Eid and the 65th Independence Day of Pakistan on August 24th with a great deal of fanfare as close to 1000 people gathered at the parking lot of SHAZ Restaurant to take part in the festivities. The greater Sacramento area can claim to have some of the oldest American families of Pakistani descent residing in the US as people from what is now Pakistan had settled in this part of California around 100 years ago. But the greatest influx has been during the past 30 years when the agricultural economy took a back seat to jobs in state government, small business, engineering and medicine.

It was a pleasure to see the vibrancy, colors, and not to forget, the great food that Pakistanis bring to large occasions like this one. The Eid celebrations certainly drew added attention to the clothing of our women and children and quite a vigorous environment had emerged long before the formal evening program began. The emcees for the show were local luminaries Naeem Syed and Rana Akram accompanied by Mah Noor from ARY TV.

First young Faraz recited from the Holy Book and Rameen translated the verses. This was followed by the singing of the American national anthem (great job once again by Hawwa Munir) followed by the Pak Sar Zameen of Pakistan, to celebrate the dual heritage of American Pakistanis. Two people sang Naats starting with Zainab followed by Abdul Bari. Javed Iqbal next surprised everyone with a fine performance of Sohni Dharti and local talents Maqsood Sahib with his poetry, Abrar’s musical tribute to peace and Zaki Syed’s Rap performance closed the local talent segment. Zaki is a rising star in the Sacramento Rap scene and is only getting better and better.

Interspersed within all of these performances were quiz questions, a kids dress show and the evening was not without its comedy! “What is the capital of California?” asked Naeem Syed. One person answered “Faisalabad” which is a very local joke since a large segment of Sacramento Pakistanis originate from that one city in Pakistan.

The main musical segment of the evening was opened by Zaheer Abbas. Zaheer has a strong gifted voice which has won him recent recognition. In spite of battling personal tragedy, he sang his heart out at this venue starting out with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Wohi Khuda Hai”. He also sang other hits from Fakhir, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Arif Lohar (who rocked this event last year).

Next Faisal Lucky brought some serious “Bhangra” music to the show and got some members of the audience to dance too. They say that you can take a Punjabi out of Punjab but you just can’t take Punjab out of a Punjabi. Some local Indian origin guests showed their dancing talents too and a couple of young ladies on stage certainly added a Bollywood flavor to the evening.

Show organizer Sohail Shahzad next thanked all sponsors of the event and awards of recognition were handed out to them with the assistance of Jawad Ahmad, the star singing attraction of the day. And Jawad certainly gave a commanding performance starting with his signature Bin Teray Kiya Jeena and following up with a Woh Kendi Hai medley which incorporated Ballay Ballay, Latthay Di Chadar and a host of other songs including lines from Ko Ko Korina, Dekha Na Tha, etc. He also sang Dholna, a song that he dedicated to the Pakistani expatriate community along with Mast Qalandar which had both the young and quite old in the audience dancing. Jawad slowed down the pace with a nice reminder of why we were here as he sang the Pakistani national anthem with audience participation. This scribe left the venue on that note but it seemed that Jawad was going to continue. An interesting side story of interest here is that Jawad Ahmad also happens to be a Mechanical Engineer!

In conclusion, once again the Pakistani community in Sacramento showed its affection for both its country of origin and for America, its new homeland. At this venue the green and white of the Pakistani flag flew along with the stars and stripes. Everyone that helped to put together this event deserves credit for a job well done.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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