Punjabi American Festival in YC is Cultural Mix

By Daniel Thigpen/Appeal-Democrat

Chris Kaufman/Appeal-Democrat
Thanveer Gosal, 13, left, and Satvinder Singh, 14, center, both of Yuba City, dance with their group, Punjab Di Shaan, during the Punjabi American Festival at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds on Sunday.

Traditional Sikh headgear and baseball caps turned sideways.

Customary fried potatoes and hot dogs.

Bhangra and Bluetooth.

Both the “Punjabi” and the “American” in the 12th annual Punjabi American Festival were well represented at the Sunday event.

Take the “bobbling desis” on sale at one of the festival booths.

You know that bobblehead doll of a famous baseball player on your desk or car dashboard?

Well, that's what these are, except the wobbly caricatures depict prominent cultural figures in India.

For about $10, you can get a figurine of Ghandi, or a miniature Irfan Pathan, of India's national cricket team fame, for example.

The dolls are the brainchild of San Francisco resident Sunny Singh, who said he got the idea from the popular American bobbleheads.

Chris Kaufman/Appeal-Democrat
Dancersfrom the group Nachdian Mutiaran of Yuba City share a light moment before performing at the festival.

“Nobody's done it before,” he said. “It's kind of a niche market.”

As many as 12,000 people packed the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds in Yuba City for the daylong festival, organizers said. People came from as far as Canada and New Jersey to visit the city that boasts one of Northern California's largest East Indian populations.

The festival was sponsored by the Punjabi American Heritage Society, a local nonprofit organization formed in 1993 that promotes Punjabi culture.

Also part of the group's mission is to connect American-born Punjabi youths with their cultural roots.

Hence the merging of traditional Punjabi culture - folk dances and music, ornate jewelry and colorful clothing - and American familiarities - booths from Comcast and Mountain Mike's Pizza.

“We want to bridge the gap in the community,” said Tejinder S. Ghuman, one of the founding members of the Punjabi American Heritage Society. “And we want to keep the new generation in touch with their culture and heritage.”

Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Thigpen can be reached at 749-4713. You may e-mail him at dthigpen@appeal- democrat.com.

Taken from http://www.appealdemocrat.com

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