Celebrate Independence Day Virtually This Year

One of the worst aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is how much we’ve been separated from our families and communities. Even events as simple as a birthday party are fraught with fear as people struggle with safety measures that are designed to keep the virus from spreading. All major life milestones, from births to weddings and even funerals have changed irrevocably since physical distancing and stay-at-home measures were put in place several months ago.

For South Asians living in the United States, the continued spread of COVID-19 means that the large events, parades, and pageants that usually mark Pakistan and India’s Independence Days won’t be happening this year. For many of us, the 14th and 15th of August are joyous times that we’re used to spending with family and friends.

Fortunately, many organizations are moving their celebrations online, and are hosting virtual events ranging from live-streamed flag-raisings to essay contests. If you’re already part of a local India or Pakistan association in your region, make sure to check out their website first, to see if they’re hosting a virtual event this year. Here’s a list of where to start.

Celebrate India’s Independence Day

Many local India Associations are hosting virtual events this August 15th. Friends of India Las Vegas is still putting their event together, but it will likely feature lots of music, dancing, and singing over Zoom or YouTube Live. The event starts at 5 pm PDT.

Down south, the India Association of Memphis is hosting a variety of virtual events, with much of their programming focused on children. School-aged kids can enter a poster contest, fancy dress contest, or essay contest, and the top two winners from each age group will be awarded a prize.

The India Association of Greater Boston is hosting a multi-week celebration for India Day this year, with all the events taking place online. Join in for a class in their learning series, or stream a live concert from Vijay Prakash or Anuradha Palakurthi.

Celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day

All over the United States, Pakistani-Americans will celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14th. Unlike all the other years, the flag-raising and parades will have to happen within your own household in 2020. Fortunately, many organizations within the United States have arranged virtual events, so you can attend from the safety of your own home.

Make sure to tune into this virtual event hosted by the Development Council of Pakistani Americans and the Pakistani American Society of Minnesota. In the past, their events have featured live Qawwali performances, and plenty of halal food. While it’s not possible to share food as a community this year, hopefully their event will make up for that with lots of exciting performances and music.

Tune in at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET for a virtual flag raising and series of musical performances hosted by the Pakistani American Community Center. Based in the Bay Area in California, this group already knows how to have fun online: They’ve been hosting karaoke and poetry nights over Zoom for the last several months.

It’s also worth checking out both the Pakistani and Indian embassies in the United States. They haven’t posted anything yet, but they both have the resources to host an incredible online event. We hope you have lots of fun celebrating with your family this year!

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