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Chicago, IL: Seven Punjabi community organizations from Midwestern USA and the office of the consulate of India in Chicago collaborated to organize a “Punjabi Mother Language Day” on February 27, 2022 at Chicago Marriott Northwest in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. More than 200 guests attended. The event was inspired by UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day which falls on February 21 every year.

The participating organizations Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago, Kalma De Ang Sang, Punjabi Midwest Organization, SWERA, Punjabi Cultural Society of Michigan, Guru Ladho Re Sewa Society of Wisconsin, Punjabi American Organization, were inspired and assisted by Counsel Ranjit Singh of the Consulate of India in Chicago.

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This event also celebrated the proclamation of the State of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for the month of February to be the “Punjabi Language Month” in the state of Illinois.

This gathering to promote Punjabi language was convened and the venue sponsored by Amarbir Singh Ghoman and Harsharan Singh Ghoman brothers, the owners of the Hotel Chicago Marriott Northwest. The dinner was sponsored by the Maharaja Restaurant of Rosemont Illinois.

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A vibrant cultural program included poetry recitation, singing of Punjabi folk songs, a short comedy skit, Children’s presentations, dancing on Punjabi Dhol drum and delicious dinner. Singing of Punjabi songs and dancing by the Danish artist Anita Lerche also known as the “Heer of Denmark” was one of the highlights. She entertained the audience with her popular Punjabi songs and brought the audience to the dance floor. 

The program coordinated by Ranjit Singh was emceed by Raj Lali Batala and Dr. Harjinder Khaira.

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The Consul General of India Mr. Amit Kumar delivered the inaugural remarks at the event. Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod and Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig were special guests at the event and they also made congratulatory remarks.

Consul General, in his remarks, commended the organizers for the wonderful program and appreciated in particular the initiative taken by them to engage the younger generation in this effort, and connecting them to their cultural roots. He also associated the event with the celebrations of “Azadi Ka Mahotsav” the 75th year of India’s independence.

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The program started with rendition of Gurbani Kirtan with classical Indian string instruments - Taus and Dilruba by Kamneev Kaur and youth group from Chicago suburbs. Several noted Punjabi academicians, authors, and representative of Punjabi linguistic/cultural organizations gave presentations on their initiatives to preserve linguistic and cultural heritage of Punjabi immigrants in the US. These included Mr. Ashok Bhaura, Punjabi writer and journalist in California, Dr. Pinderjeet Kaur Gill, Lecturer, Hindi and Punjabi Languages at University of Michigan, Dr. Gurbakhsh Singh Bhandal, a Physicist at Cleveland State University, Ohio, and Mr. Manmohan Grewal, TV Anchor from Utah. Poets Sajid Chaudhry, Gurnek Jhawar, and poetesses Lakhwinder Lucky and Rakind Kaur.

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An exhibition of Punjabi books, folk musical instruments and artifacts on rural life in Punjab was also displayed. As part of this event, an innovative initiative “Pindan vichon Pind Suneeda” (the most heard-about village amongst villages is…) in which children made video clips sharing experiences about their journeys to their ancestral villages in Punjab India was also undertaken and the participants awarded.

Children from Gurmat School of Sikh Religious Society Palatine, Illinois rendered Punjabi poetry recitation in a special dramatic performance directed by Paramvir Kaur Singh, Vippanbir Kaur Kaler and Sandeep Kaur.

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A vibrant Bhangra dance with Ma Boli (mother language) theme presented by youth was directed by Ritu Kaur.

A hilarious comedy skit about a Punjabi visitor to US and his conversations with his childhood friend was presented by Gurmukh Singh Bhullar and Charandeep Singh.

The awards and certificates of honor were distributed to the participating poets, artists, performers, event sponsors and organizers by the guest of honor Darshan Singh Dhaliwal a businessman from Wisconsin.

“Despite a few hick ups in the program, overall it was a high class event. It should be made into an annual event to promote and honor our mother language Punjabi, because it is very much needed for the sake of our next generation,” said Rajinder Singh Mago of Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago.

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