Celebrations held earlier this month to observe Pakistan’s 70 years of independence marked the first time Sheffield witnessed the flag of Pakistan hoisted in a ceremony marking the occasion.
In what has become one of the largest multicultural gatherings in Sheffield, people dressed primarily in green and white reflecting the colours of the Pakistani flag.
The Pakistan Muslim Centre Sheffield organised a series of events, which witnessed over 3,000 people coming together to mark the special occasion.
On Sunday the 13th of August commencing the celebrations witnessed a historically significant flag-hoisting ceremony. At 8pm local time and 12am Pakistan time, the community of Sheffield, for the first time, raised the British and Pakistani flags together with a backdrop of British and Pakistani national anthems.
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. They were joined by Councillor George Derx and Mrs Pauline Derx, 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 first-hand 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 forth 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 car 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,” commented Chairman Muhammad Ali.
“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.
“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.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the Independence Day 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.
Byline: Iffat Yasmin