When Parminder Sahi and the Punjabi American Association of Manteca worked to organize the city’s first Vaisakhi festival last year they didn’t know what to expect.
More than 400 people ended up attending the cultural celebration that marks the beginning of a new year after the harvest. It featured sports, games and food in addition to bridging the cultural gap.
And if Sahi and the group of organizers have anything to say about it they’ll draw even more people from throughout the region when they host the second annual event on May 5 at Dutra Southeast Park.
“This is historically New Year’s Day in our community and a chance to celebrate a new start after the harvest,” he said. “It’s a chance to promote our culture and provide an opportunity for kids to come out and have fun without getting into trouble.
“Last year it was awesome – it was even bigger than what we thought it was going to be. We’re hoping to draw even more people this time around.”
Free and open to the public, the event will offer a little bit of everything for everyone. It has attractions for kids, adults and seniors in addition to food and refreshments that are being provided free of charge.
Popular games from the Indian subcontinent will be featured.
While the event has great religious undertones – Vaisakhi was celebrated with a parade to Stockton’s 100-year-old Gurdwara (temple or place of worship) last weekend – the sports festival is being pitched as a cultural event to bridge the gap between the ancient culture and non-Punjabis interested in learning more about their Eastern friends.
“I think that people can expect to come out and have a good time,” Sahi said. “It’s a very social event where people come together, and we’re hoping that this is something that grows every year.
“The whole community is invited to be a part of this. We welcome everybody.”
Folk dances from Pubjab – Bhangra and Gidha – will be performed by participants from neighboring cities and awards will be presented to prominent members of the Punjabi community being recognized for their services and their contributions.
Dutra Southeast Park is located on Sparrowhawk Street – accessible by Atherton Drive off of Airport Way.
The event, held on May 5, will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. For additional information contact Sahi at (209) 482-7542.