The Sindhi-Punjabi cultural festival held at Bandra’s National College on Sunday evening was aimed at attracting youth from the communities to participate in their culture.
But in the auditorium overflowing with more than a thousand enthusiastic Sindhis and Punjabis, young faces were hard to find.
The newly founded Sindhi-Punjabi Forum gifted mobile phones and other prizes to youth who could answer questions fluently in their mother tongue. But only a handful of children showed up on stage to take up the challenge of the unique contest.
“Young people don’t often enjoy coming to such community programmes,” said Pradeep Bhavanani, founder of the Bhartiya Sindhi Samaj, a non-profit trust that co-organised the event. “But with such competitions and incentives, we are confident that future programmes will see more youth participation.”
The contest was held in the interval of a vibrant musical concert presented by Udasi, a Sindhi folk troupe from Madhya Pradesh, and the traditional Punjabi bhangda dance.
For the children who did take part in it, winning prizes was an exciting reward for speaking in their mother tongue.
“I would thank my parents for whatever I know of my culture and language, because they speak to me in Sindhi constantly at home,” said Roshan Jaguja (10), who flawlessly recited a Sindhi hymn on stage.
The Class 4 student of Mahim’s Lokmanya Vidyamandir intends to play games on his first ever cell phone.
“The mother tongue is part of our culture and religion and we must know it,” said Asmeet Kaur (11), who won a pen for her well-spoken Punjabi. The Santacruz resident has often told her friends, who neglect their mother tongues, to speak in them too.