Group of lady dancers at Pakistan Cultural Festival in Roseville

Cultural celebration of food, fashion, & dance

Roseville, Calif.- Saturday June 8, 2024, was another exciting day in the City of Roseville as the annual Pakistan Cultural Festival was held here once again at the Vernon Street Town Square, bringing with it an array of colors, cuisine and music to the delight of hundreds of visitors.

This festival is our one free and open to the public opportunity in Placer County to see the Red, White and Blue of America harmoniously blend in with the Green and White colors of Pakistan. An American Pakistani effort would be the best description of this festival. The Pakistani community has been here in this region for over a hundred years, ever since “British Indians” mainly from the Punjab came to California for the first time and settled here.

‘Purely cultural’

Right off the (Cricket) bat here, a fact that needs mention is that the festival held here for the third year running, is purely cultural, and there is no religious or international political dimension to it. This is a rule that the local organizers strictly adhere to and instead of those elements, there is plenty of family fun, great food, shopping (ethnic products) and plenty of music and dance to enjoy. Pakistan itself is a country of sub-cultures with overlapping ethnicities with both Afghanistan and India. But the one fact that many may not be aware of is that in Pakistan live the largest number of the ethnic Baloch, Pashtun, Punjabi and Sindhi people, more than anywhere else in the world. Pakistan is currently also the world’s 5th largest country in terms of population.

But now to the festival. As we reached the venue at around 11:30 AM we caught first half event emcee Asif Haq on stage welcoming everyone and thanking them for attending. He said that the organizers were very happy with the turnout. He also acknowledged the great effort that went into putting this program together by Pakistani community members residing in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville and the Greater Sacramento region. Asif also added that the organizers are not professional event planners and have put in a lot of their effort pro bono.

On the reason why this festival was taking place, Haq said that we are doing this because of our love for Pakistani culture and the intent is to introduce that culture to our local friends and neighbors and the wider area community. He hoped that this festival would enrich America, which is a melting pot of many world cultures and lead to better understanding and community fellowship among all of us. Asif thanked the City of Roseville, event sponsors, some key individuals, and the area media for helping to get the word out on this festival. He also shared the program schedule for the afternoon.

Chief Guest, Roseville Mayor Bruce Houdesheldt

Chief Guest, Roseville Mayor Bruce Houdesheldt

The Chief Guest Mayor Bruce Houdesheldt congratulated the group for holding their third Pakistan Cultural Festival in Roseville and thanked them for choosing Vernon Town Square as the venue once again. He said that this is consistent with the city’s strategic plan in attracting and connecting cultures in our city. Through food and through music the connections become possible, he said. He added that he learnt new things here already, that K2, the second highest mountain in the world is in Pakistan and that Punjab is in both Pakistan and in India and that the largest irrigation system in the world is in the Punjab.

The mayor also thanked the organizers for the invitation and thanked mother nature for the wonderful weather. The mayor also appreciated the Pakistani community for its contributions to science and technology in the area and to our society and culture. On a side note, we have to thank Bruce for having the right dance moves to Pakistani folk music and even inspiring some of us to join in!

Food, fashion, & dance

It would not be possible to describe all that the festival had to offer in this short article, but food and fashion dominated. One attendee told us that it was the smell of barbeque that drew him here as he was walking by. Others said that it was high energy music. And several people mentioned that it was the ethnic dances presented by the Pakistani ladies on stage here that absolutely floored them and changed their perceptions about the country.

musician perform at Pakistan Cultural Festival

To conclude, this cultural festival was about Pakistan, the country and its people, but the target audience was not necessarily Pakistanis. It is possibly the only such annual event in this entire region, which is meant for the non-Pakistani mainstream community, for them to come visit and enjoy and discover who Pakistanis are and what they contribute to local society.

The organizers hope to continue this festival next year for those that missed the opportunity to participate this time around. Till then we leave our readers here with the Sindhi saying “Ho Jamalo” which when paired with its music can become a divine dancing opportunity!

Ras Siddiqui

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