August 14 is Pakistan’s Independence Day and is a special day for all Pakistanis around the world.This day is celebrated in Pakistan by putting up the national flag on houses, singing patriotic songs, holding special assemblies in schools and driving through bright buildings shining from the strings of lights wrapped all around them.
I can’t listen to my childhood national songs without feeling a lump in my throat. Like all parents, my wish is to pass on this love to my children so that they celebrate their roots in their own unique capacities as Pakistani-Canadians. I’m very lucky to have some mommy-friends who share the same aspirations. Sharing memories and pictures of how we celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in Calgary in 2015.
We decided to have an age-appropriate celebration at a friend’s house. She had decorated her house with beautiful Pakistan flag jhandiyan (buntings) meticulously hand-cut because she couldn’t find them in the market. We did a special craft for the children where they made the Pakistan flag. There was Urdu story time and ofcourse lots and lots of national songs. All the food had a Pakistan theme. All the children wore green and there was great excitement to celebrate Pakistan’s birthday.
We are lucky to live in a city that has a huge active Pakistani community. There was a flag hoisting ceremony planned at the City Hall for Pakistan’s Independence Day. What joy to listen to the National Anthem “Pak Sar Zameen” and “Dil Dil Pakistan” right there in the heart of downtown. The cake was appropriately the flag of both Canada and Pakistan. This celebration was more for us the mommies, as the children were too young to understand the significance of this event. To realize how lucky they are to be born in a country that celebrates the roots of all its children and appreciates diversity.
As parents we are all trying to set down our own traditions. Traditions, that will anchor our children’s childhood. Memories that they will look back to lovingly. And values that they will hold close to their heart as they set on their own path in life. That’s our hope as we pile them in and out of the car in the scorching heat, sing along with them and tell them stories we were told ourselves many years ago.
Like all parents, we also doubt ourselves and wonder if it’s worth it, if it will make a difference, will they remember? For me that question was answered on the night of Aug 14, after a fun but tiring day. As I cleared the kitchen I heard my daughter humming in her room. I tiptoed upstairs to hear a beautiful rendition of “Jeway Jeway Pakistan..” (long live Pakistan) that she was singing to herself. With tears in my eyes and warmth in my heart, I just sat on the stairs, appreciating one of the most beautiful moments in my life. My work was done, at least for that one day.