It is not only Sindhi-speaking people who are participating but also Pashto-speaking Sindhis, Urdu-speaking Sindhis, and Punjabi-speaking Sindhis, who live in Sindh are demonstrating their love for Sindh.
By Khalid Hashmani
The Sindhis who live in and around the Washington DC area joined festivities of the annual “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day”. The event was organized by Mrs. Nasreen and Mr. Iqbal Tareen at their residence in McLean suburb on the night between Saturday, November 19 and November 20, 2011. Several local Sindhis joined Tareens in this event to make it a memorable celebration of Sindhi culture, language and identity.
Each year, Sindhis in Sindh (Southern-most province in Pakistan) and all over the world, Sindhis hold festivities that include wearing of Sindhi (called Topi) and Ajrak (a long and wide scarf) displaying traditional patterns mostly in red, blue, and white colors. Both Sindhi Topi and Ajrak are considered symbols of high respect and are give as a gift to foreign guests. They sing Sindhi songs, participate in traditional Sindhi dances that are composite of creations by indigenous Sindhis and influenced by the culture of many migrant communities who came over several centuries including zoroastrians, Arabs, West Africans, and others who migrated from several provinces and countries in South Asia.
The revival of modern “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” started when Sindhis were angered by commentaries of Urdu and English media criticizing President Zardari for wearing Sindhi traditional attire on his state visit to Afghanistan on the occasion of swearing ceremony of Mr. Hamid Karazi as President of Afghanistan in 2009. This year, the “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” is being celebrated on November 19 and November 20. Various Sindhi media outlets, Sindhi organizations, and political parties are sponsoring the events to celebrate Sindhi culture under various titles such as “Sindh Culture Day”, “Sindhi Topi Day” and “Sindhi Unity Day”, or “Pakistan Unity Day”.
Back to the Washington D.C. event, several attendees were asked to share their views and feelings about the “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” on a video that will be shared with Sindhi media. Iqbal Tareen welcomed all guests and congratulated all Sindhis and others who were celebrating Sindhi Culture Day. He said that was proud and thankful that most other political parties and groups in Pakistan including PPP, PML-N, MQM, and ANP are joining the festivities. He said it is a proud moment for all Sindhis and added that this day allows us to renew our pledge to protect Sindhi culture. Zahid Shaikh thanked Iqbal Tareen and talked about history and heritage of Sindh. He said that participating in events such as “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” is one of the effective ways to remain connected. However, he added that “this not sufficient”. We have to be concerned with the falling education standards and the failure of Sindhi political leadership to solve problems. Imtiaz Bhatti said that he was thankful to Tareen for organizing this event and said he was proud of his Sindhi heritage. He added that this event is inclusive of every one who lives in Sindh and/or is connected to Sindh in some manner. He urged that we Sindhis should be make sure that our behavior is truly reflective of tolerance, and respect for every one. Sarfraz Memon said that it is indeed a great moment for him personally. He recalled the days when as a young boy he used was taunted by some street boys for wearing Sindhi attire in some neighborhoods of Karachi. He added that thanks to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto now every one has adapted the Sindhi style Shalwar Khamis (loose trouser and long loose shirt) in Pakistan and some parts of India. He hoped that soon we will see the use of Sindhi language also spread more widely in all parts of Sindh. Khalid Hashmani thanked Tareen and wished Iqbal Tareen a speedy and complete recovery from his recent surgery. He said that the “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” has helped create awareness about Sindhi culture, Sindhi Sufism, and Sindhi identity not only in Pakistan but through out the world. He added that the people who had once wanted to Sindhi culture and Sindhi language to slowly loose it’s prevalence in Sindh are realizing the resolve of Sindhi people is unbreakable and would not to allow that from happening. Faud Qadri said that he is proud and happy to see his 8-year son to participate in a day that celebrates his and his son’s Sindhi heritage. He added that living so far away from our birth-land can fade our connection to it. It is through celebrations such as this that we renew our connection. He said he wanted people in Sindh to know that we Sindhis living overseas are proud of our culture and will do our best to ensure its survival until this universe exists. Faud’s 8-year son Zain Qadri wished his grandfather and grandmother were here to see the fun that we are having today! Tabassum Qadri said she is happy to see Sindhis in the USA celebrating their culture and heritage. Indeed such celebrations bring us all together. She added that Sindhis in Washington D.C. must do more than just celebrations. They live in the capital of the USA, where a lot of decisions are made impacting lives in Pakistan. They can play an important role in ensuring that the people and government know the truth about what’s happening in Sindh and Pakistan. Nasreen Tareen said she to proud to have teamed up with her husband in arranging the “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” get-together. This day has become one of the most important event for Sindhis to show their love for their culture and heritage. It is not only Sindhi-speaking people who are participating but also Pashto-speaking, Urdu-speaking, and Punjabi-speaking, who live in Sindh are demonstrating their love for Sindh. The Sindhis in Sindh and every where have to convert all their energy to bring about positive changes in Sindh.
The “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” has achieved a significant importance for Sindhis. Such days can be celebrated by other communities in living in Pakistan to celebrate their culture and heritage to bring an end end to over-centralization and promote establishment of true federalism in the country.