ONE of the most awaited cultural programs of the year, “Rangla Punjab 2017,” organized by the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago (PCS) was celebrated with great enthusiasm to the degree of a Vaisakhi festival in Punjab by the local community participants of all ages, mostly born and brought up here, that electrified a Chicago audience for more than four hours at Meadows Clubs in Rolling Meadows, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Despite a wet and rainy weather, more than 1,000 were in attendance at this sold out event, with about 200 participants, more than 32 items, and 50 organizers. The parking lot was full and cars overflowed to the neighboring lots and driveways.
This memorable family show encompassed a record-breaking number of vibrant, robust, authentic Punjabi folk dances and cultural performances one after the other, 32 in all, with participating teams hailing from Chicagoland and neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana. Most of the participants were trained by PCS volunteer instructors and coordinators, who themselves were young participants here at one time.
The audience was welcomed by Board of Advisors Surinder Singh Sangha. The evening started with a prayer – “Shabad” – by children of Gurmat School S.R.S. Palatine, followed by colorful dancing and singing performances staged by local artists of all age groups. Children from as young as five years old through teenagers and adults put on an unforgettable show. Bhangra and Gidha along with the signature Punjabi “Dhol” drum beats and ‘Boli’s’ mesmerized the audience and they couldn’t help but respond by cheering, foot tapping and clapping along the melodious and lively bhangra beats. The kaleidoscopic ambiance highlighted by the authentic colorful costumes and turbans worn by the young and old alike – seemingly transported everyone to the villages, fairgrounds, or a university youth festival in Punjab.
The program divided in four parts was well compeered by four emcees: Raskirth Singh, Parvinder Singh Nanua, Mona Bhalla and Paul Singh Lail. Rajinder Singh Mago, one of the event organizers, introduced the dignitaries and distinguished guests to the audience. Mementos were presented to outgoing president Gurmit Singh Dhillon and the outgoing chairman Harkewal Singh Lally. Incoming President Sukhmel Singh Atwal and Chairman Hardial Singh Deol were introduced. Atwal welcomed everyone, introduced his 2017 Board of Directors, and thanked the organizers and the supporters.
“As always the PCS Team, backed by the hard working participants with support of their families and friends, came through with their exceptional talent of organizing a great show. What a way to pass on our Punjabi Virsa (heritage) to next generations. Young participants will cherish these memories for the rest of their lives,” said Deol.
Grand sponsor of the program, Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini, and the chief guest Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, along with several other gold and silver sponsors were honored with plaques.
Saini of Advanced Pain Management of Milwaukee credited PCS for keeping the Punjabi culture alive through such celebrations in Chicagoland. Saini, while making mention of the efforts and resources needed for such events said, “These things do not come cheap. I assure the organizers of my continuous support to this great cause.”
Dhaliwal and wife Debra Dhaliwal, of Dhaliwal Enterprises from Wisconsin, long time supporters of P.C.S., shared stage with guests of honor the Indian Consul in Chicago, D. B. Bhati, representing the Consul General Neeta Bhushan, and the Consul General of Pakistan in Chicago, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, who brought along his Punjabi-speaking wife to enjoy the Punjabi culture in Chicago.
Mago introduced Tirmizi and requested his government’s help in maintaining the Sikh heritage monuments and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom’s historical sites in Pakistan. “After partition in 1947, about 80% of Sikh heritage sites remained in Pakistan, and nearly 70% of those are close to destruction. Those are Pakistan’s history as well,” Mago said. “These could be maintained and turned into tourism economy for Pakistan, where Sikhs and other tourists from all over the world would come to visit, Pakistani people in general are great hosts.” Mago also requested for easier access and security for the tourists.
It was a nostalgic moment as the Meadows Club hall became the microcosm of the Punjabi culture and entertainment; it felt as if the spectators were sitting in Punjab amidst all the kaleidoscopic view of its heritage and colorful suits, dupattas and turbans surrounding them. Ecstatic parents and grandparents were untiringly clicking pictures of their colorfully dressed children performing on the stage.
Gidha was performed by, to name a few, Bollywood Arts Academy, Shaunkana Chicago Diyan, Milwaukee Gidha and Chicago Girls Gidha and so on. Bhangra teams included all age groups like Navi Paneeri, Punjabi Kaum, Warriors Bhangra and many more. Chicago’s renowned singers Mahijit Virdi, Mona Bhalla, Maddy Singh, Parina Mehrotra, and Ashley Singh made everyone dance to their melodies.
The venue lobby was crowded with guests at all times socializing, snapping photos, and checking out the merchandise and refreshments vendors. A complimentary table for bone marrow donor search for Kapil Vij was also setup. World Wars I and II Sikh soldier’s posters were also displayed.
The inauguration ceremony of a Punjabi book “Siyastdaan” by author Matt Singh Dhillon was also held on the stage in the presence of the guests of honor.
The event gold sponsors were Bhupinder Singh Dhaliwal and Hardial Singh Deol while the silver sponsors were Mohina Ahluwalia, Harkewal Lally, Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Sunny Kular, Punjabi Cultural Society of Michigan, Avtar Singh Bhaura Transport Indianapolis, Jaswinder Singh Sandhu U.S.Oil, Nick Balwinder Singh, Major Gurcharan Singh Jhaj, Gurdeep Singh Nandra (Motorola), New York Life, Onkar Singh Sangha (All State Insurance). Other sponsors included Nick Gakhal, Jaidev Singh Bhathal, Dr. Amarjit Singh, Dr. Harjinder Singh Khaira, Gulzar Multani, Salwan Trading, Suga Builder, Santokh Singh DC, Jaspal Singh Kaler, Amrikpal Singh (Mortgage Co.), and Lakhbir Singh Sandhu, Lakhvir Singh Sahota and Jagjit Singh Dhindsa.
The event was organized by P.C.S. board with the help of many item coordinators and volunteers including Iqbal Singh, Joti Parmar, Jaspal Midha, Sandeep Singh and Ajit Singh Dandona among many others, who will be recognized at a special appreciation dinner on June 11.
“Truly, Chicagoland will be waiting with bated breath for the next Rangla Punjab from Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago in 2018,” said Prachi Jaitly the coordinator of Bollywood Gidha.
PCS’ upcoming events are “PCS Youth Graduation Night” and “Rangla Punjab Participants Appreciation Night” on June 11 at Viceroy of India Restaurant, Lombard Illinois, “PCS Sports Festival” in August, “PCS International Bhangra and Gidha Competition” in November, and “Thanksgiving Day Parade” in November.
The Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago is an all volunteer not-for-profit community service organization devoted to promoting Punjabi culture, language, performing arts, education, good citizenship, healthy lifestyle, and sports in the metropolitan Chicago area and beyond. For further information:
Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago,
P.O. Box 1244 , Palatine , IL 60078
PCS website: http://www.pcschicago.org/
Facebook: PUNJABI CULTURAL SOCIETY OF CHICAGO
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