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When one of us fell sick, the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) used to put his right hand on our forehead, and say, “Remove the hardship, Lord of mankind, and give healing. You are the Healer. There is no healing but from You, a healing which leaves no illness behind.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

10 ideas to commemorate March 23

by Samana Siddiqui

Most Pakistanis and Pak-Americans are familiar with August 14 as a national holiday for Pakistan. But there is another date in our history which receives less attention than it should: March 23.

March 23, known as Pakistan Day, is an occasion observed to commemorate the passage of the famous resolution of the All India Muslim League in Lahore in 1940. This was when a demand for a separate independent state for the Muslims of South Asia was made.

Pak-Americans can use March 23 as an occasion to educate Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis about the country and share our heritage to promote better understanding and bridge-building between different communities. Here are some ideas that can help.

1. Understand why this day is important

Knowing the history and facts behind the March 23 resolution is critical for any Pakistani who wants to have a better grasp of his or her history and culture.

If you aren't already familiar with it, surf the net, check out the library and talk to those who know about March 23, 1940. Try to understand why and how it was important to the millions of people who later made the dangerous trek from India and Pakistan seven years later, losing their lives, family members and homes.

2. Share this knowledge with your family in a family meeting

Your parents may already know about March 23 but your siblings may not.

Hold a family meeting early in March or on March 23 (which falls on a Saturday this year, so everyone can most likely make the time for this) to share what you've learned about this momentous day and what it means for you and your family.

Even better, maybe you can get the younger kids to put together a short speech or read aloud the Pakistan Resolution about the occasion to educate or remind everyone about why it's important. This can even be in the form of a skit, a poem or a song.

3. Organize a Pakistan Day event at your school

This is especially important for the colleges with Pakistan Students' Associations (PSAs). Organize an exhibition featuring posters on Pakistan. Include other cultural artifacts on display such as Pakistani clothing, artwork, photos of the country as well as samplings of Pakistani food (samosas are usually a hit).

Another activity you can include in the event is a quiz game to test everyone's knowledge of all aspects of Pakistan. Gather questions and answers about geography, history, economy, politics and more. Once you've got everything, get one person to be the emcee. Include prizes for winners and post all questions and answers after the game on a board outside the PSA office so everyone can keep learning.

You can end the day's activities by hosting a dinner with a keynote speaker discussing what Pakistan means to Pak-Americans.

4. Hold a video discussion about Pakistan

If you can find a good video about Pakistan, even a travelogue, organize a movie night on March 23 as a way to familiarize non-Pakistanis with the country, its culture and history. Serve refreshments and charge a minimal fee or no fee at all. The point is to educate others about our heritage.

5. Do a project or presentation for class about the March 23 resolution

If you're taking a class that falls under the "South Asian Studies" rubric, you can take the initiative and ask your teacher if you can prepare a presentation or project about March 23 or Pakistan Day for extra credit.

Pakistani children in elementary and high school can also suggest this to Social Studies teachers, who would probably welcome the opportunity for students to share their culture and heritage.

The presentation should not just be academic though. If possible, introduce photos of Pakistan, clothing, food, etc. to make it come to life and spark students' interest.

Alternatively, you can do a book report about some aspect of Pakistan.

6. Set up a display table with books about Pakistan

Set up a display table at your school with books, articles and posters about Pakistan. You can, for instance, have videos about the geography of Pakistan playing near a table with books and articles that present basic facts about Pakistan, its history, etc. Have as many free articles available for distribution as possible.

7. Write in campus newspapers

If you think your student newspaper is more suitable to line the birdcage with, think again. This publication is a great way to promote ideas to an open-minded audience. Most newspapers have a letters to the editor section, or opinion/editorial section where articles by any student can be published. For March 23, have a PSA representative write a column about what the day means not just historically, but also for Pakistanis living in America. It can also briefly discuss some of the current challenges the country is facing.

8. Set up a library display

Even the most non-academic of students would be attracted to a well-thought out and properly planned display on March 23 and its connection to Pakistan. While not everyone goes into the library, hundreds, if not thousands of students, teachers and staff walk by it everyday. Don't lose this opportunity to set up an attractive display of posters, free pamphlets and more to share Pakistani history and culture.

9. Make bedtime story night for your kids a story about Pakistan

Do you read to your kids at night before they go to bed? If so, talk to them a bit about Pakistan, but make sure to not just present the dry facts, but capture the feelings of the Muslims who fought to push the resolution through as well as the struggle for Pakistan in general.

10. Send a donation to Pakistan or to a Pakistani cause

Write out a check on behalf of the whole family or your PSA to a local charity that's doing work in Pakistan or a place that's helping local Pakistanis (i.e. a women's shelter). Send a card with it signed by all family or PSA members.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:48:39 PM

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