New York City’s annual Pakistan Day parade is one of the largest Pakistan day festivals held outside of Pakistan (the one in London is reputedly much larger) and has been held annually for at least 25 years. I have always wanted to attend one of these, but never have. Till now.
As it turns out, Geo TV’s North American channels are to telecast the parade live this year and asked me to come over to assist in the broadcast. The thought of Pakistaniat running amuck on the streets of New York – from 26th to 41st streets on Madison Avenue, with over 10,000 people expected to attend – was too enticing to miss out on. Typically, and not surprisingly, there is lots of good Pakistani food, colorful Pakistanis dresses galore, bhangras good and bad, dhols and music all around, and good-natured chaos and frenzy. What, then, is not to like!
This year’s Pakistan Day celebrations kick off amidst much bad news. But that too has become a pattern in recent years. All the more reason to use this occasion to think about Pakistan, our own Pakistaniat, and what both mean to us and to what we are and are viewed as by the world. Behind all the noise and festivities, that must be the biggest reason for such a celebration. I hope those at the parade will not let sad events dampen their Pakistaniat or their expression of it; but I also hope that we will all also use such an occasion to think about what we can give back to Pakistan, especially to those being displaced by the current rain and flood havoc hitting Pakistan.
Also, it seems like a good opportunity to try out this “Live Tweets” thing. Lets see how that works, I will try to update regularly on Twitter and here is a live feed to all tweets with the hashtag #PakDayParadeNYC. If any readers are at the parade, or wish to add to the Twitter chatter, Tweet away with hashtag #PakDayParadeNYC and it will show up in the window below (I hope!).
Pictures from earlier Pakistan Day parades in New York City: