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Local Pakistanis Gather To Celebrate National Holiday

On March 22, the Seattle-area Pakistani community gathered to celebrate a day with historic significance in Pakistan.

The date, March 23, commemorates a 1940 meeting of Muslim leaders who pledged to create a separate homeland, a movement that resulted in modern-day Pakistan. It's now a national holiday in Pakistan.

In the Seattle area, it was a day to celebrate Pakistani culture

About 300 Pakistani people gathered at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse, many wearing traditional dress.

Kamran Salahuding, one of the founding remembers of the Pakistan Association of Greater Seattle, organized the event.

"This is one way of staying in touch with our beloved motherland," Salahuding said. "In a way, we are teaching our kids where we have come from — our heritage, our culture. We are transferring that to our kids so that they remember."

The Seattle area is home to nearly 3,000 Pakistanis. They are professors, business owners, students, tourists, and technical workers. Many still feel a strong bond to their home country.

"We live over here, but our hearts are still  in Pakistan," said Javed Ikram, one of the participants.

Many of those who came look forward to this celebration all year.

Zeb Akbar is an engineer at Boeing. "My spirit is quite up," he said. "For me, it was nice to see our community growing."

Getting ready for the event can take weeks of rehearsing.

"There are a lot of preparations that are done, from the grown-ups right down to the children," said Shama Akbar.

Children were a big part of the event. They sang songs and did skits about Pakistani history. They even did a fashion show of traditional dress.

The organizer of the children's show, Kiran Shereyar, said the children’s participation was one of the main purposes of the event. "We really want them to find a way – a more creative way, a more fun way to understand what our culture is,” she said.

One song, in particular held special significance. Its refrain is "Dil dil Pakistan." In English, it translates to "my heart and love is Pakistan."

Naveed Alam is a visiting Pakistani journalist working at KUOW as a fellow of the International Center for  Journalists, a professional cultural exchange program. He is a radio reporter with Equal Access Pakistan.