_ By Rahima
Every year since 2013 the first Sunday of December is celebrated as Ekta Day or more commonly known as Sindhi Cultural Day.
The Ekta (Unity) day is observed to display solidarity among the Sindhi-speaking masses and the event is celebrated not only in major cities like Karachi, but throughout Sindh. The first Sindhi Cultural day was celebrated on December 6, 2009 (affectionately called ‘Sindhi Topi Day’) as a response to the comments made by anchorman Dr. Shahid Masood who criticized the then President Asif Ali Zardari for wearing a Sindhi cap on his foreign tours.
In 2013 the day was celebrated by local media and prominent political parties, and since then the province has celebrated this day with zeal to highlight the diversity of this historic culture.
For 2016, as in previous years, we saw people celebrate the day in their own fun ways – the most prominent one of which was the US Consulate’s video where American diplomats attempted to master basic Sindhi sentences.
We also saw celebrities join the festivities.
Notably, Saif Samejo of ‘The Sketches band’ and the brains behind Lahooti Live sessions also posted pictures of the celebration from Karachi.
He also took pride in his ancestry and culture saying, “Sindhi people belong to different religions, castes, languages …Sindh is the symbol of love, humanity, celebrations.”
The Sindhi culture transcends boundaries and generations, and for many people the purpose of Sindhi Cultural day is to celebrate the vibrant and centuries old heritage of the province, the diversity of its people and embrace our differences while also rejoicing in what we share.
Many people however have some issues with this annual event. Bushra Joyo, a prominent blogger called out the festivities saying, “I am proud to be a Sindhi and I love celebrating cultures but I refuse the norm of celebration where people only dress up to dance on roads randomly. If you want to celebrate any culture organize parades, theatre, music & film festivals…”
She brings up an interesting question about whether loud music and street dances actually help in cultural preservation.
Some also pointed out how the culture of Sindh is more than just the ajrak (the traditional cloth) and topi (hat) and confining it to those two objects demeans the culture itself
#SindhiCulturalDay confining the Sind culture to Topi/Ajrak not correct, lot of things I saw the day were rather demeaning to Sind culture
— Syed Aftab Haider Sh (@aftab457) December 5, 2016
It also reminds one of just how much of a practical issue such revelries can be.
In a metropolitan city like Karachi, the celebrations have been known to cause traffic jams as hoards of people gather on the roads to take part in festivities.
So while many around the world celebrated the culture and embraced diversity
— Ehsan Mir (@EhsaanMeer) December 3, 2016
An interesting day to observe different cultures & traditions from South #SindhiCulturalDay
— MOHIB JADOON (@MOHIBISTAN) December 3, 2016
— Shama Junejo (@ShamaJunejo) December 1, 2016
Sindhi cultural day is like EID for Sindhi nation , first Sunday of Dec is called Sindhi Achaar , and every year Sindhi celebrate it … pic.twitter.com/S5Js8bW18h
— Bk Sarmad (@SarmadBk) December 3, 2016
One wonders whether the purpose of Sindhi Cultural Day is being fulfilled – is there a better more organized way to celebrate? Does dancing on streets while wearing an ajrak and topi achieve something? Or does it just intimidate and confuse those who don’t identify themselves as Sindhi (even while living in Sindh – case in point the author) because they believe that said culture doesn’t include them?