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Eid Mela in Stockton, California
Ras H. Siddiqui Fremont, USA

March 2002 - Eid was celebrated with a “Eid Milan” party via a colorful gathering (Mela) of Pakistanis, Pakistani-Americans and their non-Muslim friends from the local community at the Scottish Rite Temple in the California Central Valley town of Stockton on Saturday, March 2, 2002. This event was the end product of the efforts of the Pakistani-American Association of San Joaquin County, an area encompassing Stockton and Lodi amongst other towns. This area is mainly agricultural and is especially known for grape and cherry production. It is this for this reason and that many people from the land that now forms Pakistan, finding both the weather and the terrain compatible with the Punjab and parts of the Frontier Province, came and settled here. And like Sacramento, there has been a continuous presence of Muslim people who speak either Punjabi or Pashto for almost a century.It was great to see the more traditional aspect of the Pakistani presence in this part of the world as the community went all out to participate in this Eid Milan. It would be difficult to estimate the number of people that attended but at times it seemed like the men, women and children were too numerous for the size of the hall. And it was a good occasion for some candidates for the primary elections to be held in California next week  to do some last minute campaigning. Rick Sealy who was running for the Sheriff’s position spoke first and was followed by Melodie Blowers running for County Supervisor from District 2. Both of them will be remembered by Pakistani-American voters next week (The current San Joaquin county Treasurer and Tax Collector happens to be Shabbir Khan, a Pakistani-American so this is an active community). Also making his presence known here was Dr. Sukhmander (Suki) Singh who is running for U.S. Congress. We thank Suki for being here with us and hope to see him do well against incumbent Gary Condit.
After the speeches, dinner was served because when there is a Pakistani celebration, food gets a great deal of attention, this time via catering from the Chandni Restaurant in Newark. It was after dinner that the formal program started with Tilawat from the Holy Quran by a young lady with a translation into English by a community senior.
San Francisco Bay Area radio personality, Annie Akhtar was the mistress of ceremony. Recognizing the efforts of the Pakistani-American Association, Annie stressed the need to hold gatherings like these so that our children here can remain in touch with our culture (except that Annie did that in superb Urdu which I cannot duplicate here). The Children’s program was next introduced where individual boys and girls competed for prizes either by showing their talents via traditional dances or through song or speech. Two boys sang “Jeeway Pakistan” and the girls fashions sense shined with their traditional Pakistani dresses. The parents of these youngsters need to be congratulated for encouraging them while they put on this show.
Asian American Mishi also presented a few dance numbers. It is interesting how this young lady has picked up on our art form. And speaking of Asian, I really got a kick out of the presence of the Chinese family sitting next to me. They were originally from Karachi and spoke in Urdu with each other throughout the evening.   The Association President Mrs. Farkhanda Chaudhry and Annie next gave recognition awards to Syed Sarwat of the Chandni Restaurant and Super Travel. Also recognized was Tariq Din of Prudential California Realty along with a number of other sponsors.
 Last  but not least was the exciting performance of vocalist and musician Hanif Noormohammed from the Los Angeles area. Hanif has been coming to Northern California for about a decade now and him and his band are a welcome sight.
He started off by Ataullah Isakelvi’s “Kameez Teri Kaali”, “Shawa Shawa”, “Maula”
and many other numbers and was still going strong when I left.  All in all this Eid Milan was very successful. The only problem was that the Association has to look for a larger facility to do this program next year because this venue was too small. Otherwise Mr. & Mrs. Ashraf Chaudhry, Saiyed S. Ali, Shakeel Ahmed, Tahir Sheikh, Shabbir Khan, Tariq Din, Mohammed Ahmed, Waqar Rizvi and Shaiq Chisty of the Pakistani-American Association of San Joaquin County, deserve our thanks for organizing this Eid Milan. They along with community senior Mr. Shakoor Khan proved once again that the Pakistan-Americans of Stockton always make their guests from out of town feel welcome.

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