Joint South Asian Eid Event Features Sudhir Narain’s Ghazal Performance
By Ras H. Siddiqui San Francisco, CA
In a joint effort by San Francisco Bay Area Indians and Pakistanis, a late Eid event was held at the India Community Center facilities in Milpitas, California on Saturday, September 7th to the delight of approximately 300 people present. Eid-ul-Fitr or the end of Ramzaan actually fell on August 8th this year in most of the US, but it appears that the mood for celebration continues and the logistics of holding a special follow-up fell into place rather belatedly, bringing the local Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association (AMUAA), the India Community Center (ICC) and the Pakistani American Culture Center (PACC) to jointly lift our spirits by inviting Ghazal singer Sudhir Narain all the way from Agra, India to perform here. The evening was special as the cuisine was Mughlai and the décor inspired by many flickering flames, enticing people from the Indian and Pakistani community (including some from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Fiji) to take a trip down memory lane of bygone Eids in their respective homelands. Event emcee’s Sabahat Rafiq and Kamal Ahmed set the tone of what may well have technically been a “Basi” (old/aged) Eid but still one fresh in terms of the tradition of bringing all south-Asians together at this event. Brief backgrounds of the AMUAA, ICC and the PACC the hosting organizations were also presented. Cultural preservation is indeed a tall order, as passing some of its values on to the next generation continues to be a challenge. An official Eid greeting from President Obama was included here at this event along with an explanation of the background of its religious aspects (for the non- Muslims in the audience). Local inter-faith luminary Iftekhar Hai took the podium to explain the importance and need for mutual respect and understanding between all faiths, and that our adopted country (U.S.) honors pluralism a recipe which continually contributes to its success. A short segment devoted to kids in the community brought some children to the stage to be recognized for their first Roza (fast) and others to show their best of Eid attire. The only thing missing was the Savaiin (sweet vermicelli) dessert to make things complete here! The entertainment segment featured Sudhir Narain accompanied by Surjeet Singh on tabla and Dhiren Singh playing keyboards. The Ghazal genre has lost two of its giants with the passing of Ustad Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh Sahib. Sudhir Narain is cut from the same cloth although unlike the two masters he was not born in the state of Rajasthan. Sudhir started off with a call for spiritual unity with a divine number. But the legacy of Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hassan dominated most of his amazing three hour non-stop performance as the organizers and listeners in the audience wanted little else. As a plus any night of Ghazal entertainment which starts off with the Urdu poetry of Ghalib and ends with Faiz Ahmed Faiz along with works of Ahmed Faraz and Bahadur Shah Zafar (and more) thrown in cannot be anything but mesmerizing, especially with Sudhir Narain singing. To conclude kudos to the three organizations who put this event together. Talat Hasan of the ICC, Shaheer and Nihal Khan of AMUAA and Asghar Aboobaker of the PACC along with their respective teams made sure here that the positive spirit of Eid continues to bring people together and overcomes boundaries.