Celebrations held earlier this month to observe Pakistan’s 70 years of independence were munificently attended by the Sheffield, British Pakistani Communities….A special report by Iffat Yasmin for Asian Lite News
The Pakistan Muslim Centre Sheffield organised a series of events which witnessed over 2,000 people coming together to mark the special occasion.
Over 2,000 people dressed primarily in green and white, marking the Pakistani national colours attended celebrations that took place in the Pakistan Muslim Centre Car Park.
The week long celebrations commenced with a number of sports tournaments compromising of badminton and cricket matches. There were also Poetry seminars and the celebrations then concluded with two superlative events.
Sunday the 13th of August Celebrations witnessed not only a ground breaking attendance but for the first time in the history of Britain the British Pakistani community of Sheffield were provided with an opportunity to observe a flag hoisting ceremony that coincided with the celebrations in Pakistan.
At 8pm local time and 12am Pakistan time, the community of Sheffield raised the British and Pakistani flag with a back drop of British and Pakistani national anthem.
Supporting the community during this heart rending procession and witnessing the dark sky being coloured from the sight of the fireworks were various dignitaries including Deputy Lieutenant, Colonel Nick Williams, Civic Mayor and Mayoress of Doncaster, Councillor George Derx and Mrs Pauline Derx, The Lord Mayor Of Bradford. Abid Hussain. The Mayor of Rotherham, Councillor Eve Rose Keenan, together with her Consort, Mr. Pat Keenan and various other representatives
Also present and observing the children’s performances in the open air were various individuals who experienced firsthand the torment of partition and independence. Mr Asad Ali Syed, who recently appeared on the BBC documentary ‘My family, partition and me’ was just one of those individuals who was clearly being overwhelmed with emotion as he witnessed the third and some fourth generation of British Pakistani children perform on stage.
Hafeas Rehman, Secretary to Pakistan Muslim Centre said “Watching these British Pakistani children sway left to right all dressed in green and white and waiving the Pakistani Flag reminds me of the movement of the sea; this sea of green we are witnessing today on the PMC’s stage is the face of Pakistan’s Positive future. I’m so honoured that this centre is providing a platform of opportunities to people of all walks of life to develop themselves, to develop their parents homeland and to most importantly contribute to their own birth country Britain “ .
The celebrations then transformed into a festival where the PMC cark park on the 14th August was set to host a family fun day with food, clothes and information stalls.
A boxing ring set up for the children together with a centre stage, face painting amongst other activities, the day was set for communities to enjoy a day of culture and live entertainment.
Guests were also welcomed with Halva Puree (a traditional delicacy, soft semolina and chapatti, puff pastry based breakfast) making the celebrations a highly sensational experience for all communities.
“Since their inception The Pakistan Independence Celebrations have been integral to the fabric of our existence here at the Pakistan Muslim Centre. Pakistan Muslim Centre has never felt prouder, with over three thousand attending a week of celebrations, these festivities have really proven to be a phenomenal achievement for South Yorkshire”.
I have International TV Anchors questioning if these events were really taking place in England. As one of the largest community centres in the region it was important we held an official and inclusive event. The attendance of people from all walks of life, attending in their thousands not hundreds certainly corroborates the importance this centre continues to play” Said Chairman Muhammad Ali.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the week long celebrations was when the former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Denise Fox and chairman Muhammad Ali released two doves as a sign of peace, love and friendship between the two countries.
Witnessing the latter, Stephen Dziklewicz a Sheffield resident commented “This is what community strength is about – building future partnerships, I’m so pleased Muhammad Ali and PMC decided to bring the communities of Sheffield together “
As the crowd of people created the impression of a flowing sea of green and the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy joined the community of Sheffield by dancing to the Dhol beats of the international artist Aki Khan, anyone passing by the PMC would have been forgiven for mistaking the 14th August celebrations for the Sheffield Tramline festival.