YUBA CITY: Thousands of people of all races joined in the celebration of the 19th annual International Punjabi American Festival here on Sunday.
The Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, the venue of this so-called Punjabi mela, was turned into a mini-Punjab as crowds listened to top-notch Punjabi singers and savored delicious Punjabi delicacies on a bright, sunny day.
The highlight of the day-long festival was the honoring of California Assemblyman Dan Logue for moving Resolution ACR20 in the California State Assembly for introduction of Sikhism in higher education curriculum and Congressman John Garamendi for his support to the community.
“The honor is to say our very big thank-you to Mr Logue and Mr Garamendi for always supporting us,’’ one of the organizers told newseastwest.com.
Sponsored by the Punjabi American Heritage Society (PAHS) of Yuba City, the festival celebrates Punjabi roots of the local community and promotes awareness about its traditions and culture among other communities.
Kicking off at 11 am, the festival continued till 7.30 pm as top stars from the Punjabi entertainment industry regaled the audiences.
Singer Feroz Khan, who belted out his hit numbers, kept the audience spell-bound as did Rupinder Handa with her emotional songs. Both the singers were honoured for their services to Punjabi music.
The attraction of the day-celebration were Diljit Dosanjh and Neeru Bajwa, the leading stars of Jatt and Juliet even as solo artists and bhangra and gidha teams kept the audiences rivetted with their thrilling performances.
Among them were upcoming local Punjabi singer Babu Gurpal, four young girls with big smiles, and Kunjan Punjab Dian girls bhangra with Bhavkaran standing on Amarpreet’s shoulders. In between, the mixed audience was treated to a Mexican-American performance.
On the occasion, the organizers also honoured members of Seva, a young group that has taken up the initiative to serve those in need. They were given $1,000 to promote their cause.
Established about a year ago, the group feeds the homeless once a week in Sacramento and once a month in San Francisco. Apart from serving 13,000 meals so far, Seva also provides clothes to the homeless.
Also honoured was young volleyball player Sumeet Kaur Gill who plays in the Junior National Championship and has earned full athletic scholarship from the University of Oregon to play volleyball with them from 2015-2019.
The PAHS also announced five scholarship for school students for the year.
Interestingly, women and kids made up more than 70 percent of the crowds that came to the Punjabi mela. And they came from all racial groups.
Even as the show stopped as 7.30 pm, the crowds were still pouring into the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds.
“Our festival is getting bigger and bigger every year. The gathering was bigger this year than the one we had last year. The Punjabi festival has come a long,’’ said Dr Jasbir Kang, one of the organizers of the annual festival.
Indeed, Yuba City, where Punjabis and other Indian groups numbering about 15,000, make up about one-fourth of the population, is a Punjab away from Punjab.
One of the first places in North America where the early Punjabi immigrants settled, the city boasts four gurdwaras, one Punjabi mosque, one Punjabi church and a Hindu temple established by a Sikh family.
The city – called Punjab-da-Pind – is also famous for its annual Nagar Kirtan each year to mark the installation of the Guru Granth as the holy scripture of the Sikhs.