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Independence And Eid Mela Day Event Draw Hundreds To Celebrate

Tahir Ali

Greater Worcester Community resolved to do a celebration that encompasses independence day of the ex-patriots. that The timing of the memorable event could not have been better: Pakistan Day on August 14, India Independence the day after, and Eid-al Adha falling on August 21.

Rashid Shaikh himself a change agent had a vision of his own as he told Melanie Petrucci of the Shrewsbury Community Advocate: “We hope this brings the emigrant and local community together to celebrate our combined values and culture.  Let’s meet, greet, enjoy international food, music, fun and happiness,” he said. “Spread love, harmony, and message of unity and peace.  Let’s share culture, values, music and love that strengthen humanity and communities.” The New England event held in Dean Park in Shrewsbury catered to the needs of every age group and culture. There were food stalls, including fresh food cooked on grills and made to order. To the delight of the children, there were ice cream, kulfi, falooda and face-painting stalls. For the ladies there were jewelry and clothing stalls and professionals to paint feminine hands with exotic ‘Mehndi’. The park was filled with live music emitting from the stage and patriotic songs sung by professional singers.  Rizwan Shamsi, who used to lead a professional music band called ‘Live Wires’ in Pakistan.  Dr Zafar N Naqvi, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Harvard Medical School who has a passion for singing, then sang famous songs. 

Retu Sagar, originally from India is a well-known singer and performer in US, Canada, and India, participated as well. Sonal Limbachia also from India joined in to sing a few duets with Rizwan and a few solo performances – all four professionals singers were invited to enthrall the audience with their dazzling performance and melodious voice. Joining them were Rasheed Shaikh’s son Zan, a young entrepreneur and a proud founder and CEO of a marketing company called Bright Vision Digital, was one of the emcees. Both Zan and Haleema proved competent moderators and handled stage matters well. Zan and Haleema started the program by welcoming the attendees on behalf of the Human Bridge Foundation: “We have put together this awesome event for you all. Many people worked very hard to put together this great event for you. So, brace yourself and tighten your seat belt for you are about to embark on a journey filled with fun, music and entertainment.”   Haleema, extending special thanks and praise to the organizers: Rashid Shaikh and Humanity Bridge Foundation, said that their “vision, passion, and dedication made today possible.” Zan added, “Pakistan is a modern, progressive and vibrant nation of 212 million people. Pakistan’s image has suffered by many sad news but with the newly elected visionary leadership of Imran Khan Pakistan has a lot to offer to the world. Let us rebuild the Pakistan brand with national pride, honesty and dedication.”
Tahir Ali, Media Coordinator, sang the Pakistani National Anthem with his team as young Eman, Dr Saud’s daughter, played the tune on her violin.

Tahir Ali, Zan and Hassan Shaikh along with Roy Belfour and the Rotary Club’s group led the US National Anthem. The Mayor of Worcester Joseph Petty also joined in on the stage. The Pakistani and USA flags were both majestically waving in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Rashid Shaikh introduced his team, including the PAGB officials, Rotary Club members. He read out the messages from Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker and introduced Honorable Joseph Petty, the Mayor of Worcester. The Mayor talked highly of the community, referring to them as a valuable, vibrant community that continues to contribute toward the well-being of the City of Worcester, State of Massachusetts and the United States of America. He especially thanked Tahir Ali and Rashid Shaikh for inviting him to participate in the celebration of the Independence Day.  The Mayor presented Rashid Shaikh and Maheen Chaudry the key to the city. The Mayor commended the huge turnout: “This community is truly one of the cornerstones of my city and I look forward to watching them grow and play a larger role in our civic discourse.”

The musical component of the event was also a treat. Jawed Wahid, an MIT graduate and a businessperson, has shown great affinity for music for a long time. Jawed provides the entire sound system. He plays the tracks provided by the singers and plays them in the order as the event unfolds. Sonal Limbachia worked with Jawed in setting hers and others musical tracks. Drs Shujat Ali and Irfan Asghar helped the performers in their set-up, song selections, rehearsals and scheduling.  Rizwan Shamsi sang many film songs and patriotic songs as well. The audience liked the patriotic song, “Yeh watan tumhara hai,” as also his next song, “Shaam se pehlay”.  Dr Zafar Naqvi started off with “Dil dil Pakistan” and Ahmed Rushdi’s hit song from the movie Arman starring Waheed Murad and Zeba: “Ko Ko Korina” that proved a tremendous hit with the crowd. Ritu Saqar sang a few songs from her album “Ishaq da Halla”. A few Punjabi songs she sang with great finesse were liked the most. Other songs sung by Rizwan Shahmsi were Mehdi Hasan’s  “Mujhe tum nazar se girato rahe ho” and “Ek baar chalay ao” plus a duet with Sonal Limbachia “Rang sharbatoon ka”. Rizwan using his Karaoke machine was able to bring back memories when he sang another Mehdi Hasan favorite: “Zindagi mein to sabhi pyar kia karte hain” and Ahmed Rushdi’s “Akele na jaana humme chor kar tum”. Zafar Naqvi sang many old songs and each was duly applauded by the audience. Just to name a few of his renditions that enchanted the listeners:  Hai jazba junoon, Yar daadi ishq atish, Kabhi main sochta hoon, Aitebar bhi aa he jayega, and Zara chehra to dehkao.  

Dr Naqvi sang all his songs with so much passion that not only his voice but also his performance mesmerized the enthralled audience. When Dr Naqvi sings he puts his heart into his performance. On Dr Shujat Ali’s request, Dr Naqvi sang the much acclaimed and celebrated Sabri Brothers’ Qawwali: Tajdare-Haram. Famous singer Atif Aslam has also rendered the same Qawwali in his own style. Dr Naqvi started the Qawwali in the traditional Sabri style and then in the middle switched gears to the Atif Aslam style. This was not an easy task which Dr Naqvi seemed to seamlessly pull off and by his own submission he had to polish his Arabic to do justice to the Qawwali. The performance came from the top drawer. Another request from Dr Shujat Ali was the tarana directed to the children rendered by myself and was just right for the occasion: “Hum Laae Hain Toofan se Kashti Nikaal ke, Is Desh ko rakhna mere BachoN sambhal ke.” – the Desh in this case is USA for the children born here. The vendor management by Homaira Rashid Shaikh and elegant stage decoration by Tabussum and help from the ladies added another dimension to the festivities. The Jewelry and ladies garments stalls by the Sharma family and Singh family was visited the most. The professional photography by Rizwan Shaikh and Atif Rao in part are included in this report.  It was a sunny bright Saturday, a perfect time to spend with your family in a park. The family members scattered all over the park, mostly dressed in the Pakistan green, blended well with the entrancing surroundings. Based upon the 1021 tickets sold, and by available convincing estimates, the crowd could have been well over a 1,000.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time, as is revealed by some of the comments:

Great job, Rashid and team. Nicely organized and executed - Dr Hassan Usmani (past PAGB president).
Congratulation to all involved, a commendable effort. Well done - Khalid Kazi.
Great team work. Excellent - Dr Shujaat Ali.
I started to leave but when I heard the song “Akele Na Jana” on the stage, I turned back - Khalid Sadozai. 
Phenomenal, well knitted team work . A nice event organized after such a long time. Great food and fun-filled afternoon for kids. - Riffat, Afsheen and other ladies .
Thanks for inviting Ritu Sagar to be part of the beautiful event. - Vikram.
We know Jawed Wahid for a long time - He is a regular participant and Sound Engineer for the India Day celebrations - Sonal and Indika

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