By Sara Qamar and Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Dearbornâ€”June 2â€”Dearbornâ€”Hyderabad, a historic city in the southern part of India, was the subject of celebration for the Hyderabad Association of Metro Detroitâ€™s annual fundraising dinner this past weekend in Dearborn. Showcasing both age-old traditions and modern customs, the event was a junction of what Hyderabad has become and what it once was.
The event was held at the Ford Center for Community and the Performing Arts on Michigan Avenue close to downtown Dearbornâ€™s City Hall, a beautiful venue capable of comfortably holding the 800 who ate at the banquet and the 10 or so vendors who set up a temporary bazaar full of traditional clothing, calligraphy, sunnah products, and tapes and books.
Most of those present were of Hyderabadi origin. Hyderabad is the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in the Telangana region of that state. Hyderabad is known for its rich history, culture and architecture, sitting astride the meeting point between North and South India. It is a city where Muslims and Hindus have coexisted peacefully and happily for centuries, and is one of the most developed cities in India. It has a large emerging IT sector. The population is estimated at about 3.6 million, and the greater metropolitan area is estimated to be 6.1 million. Hyderabad is an important educational center in India, and has many important monuments and buildings that serve as tourist destinations.
HAMD, the Hyderabadi Association of Metro Detroit, is a charity organization in its second year, hosted the event. Education is the organizationâ€™s main focus, so proceeds from the event went to help poor students in Hyderabad to acquire education. About one hundred and fifty students are expected to receive the benefits.
The event itself was steeped in Hyderabadi culture and values. A city rich in royal history, it is said that most Hyderabadis can trace their ancestry to one of eight original kings. Videos displaying the old and the new Hyderabad were shown in which the present city was displayed as a bustling metropolis, where both Presidents Clinton and Bush have made special visits. However, it appeared that many in attendance who grew up there were also nostalgic for the old, less technologically advanced city of their youth.
The youth also had a big part in the performances that were done for the 800 member audience. One video featured young Hyderabadi kids expressing how proud they were of their heritage. Later on, a group of older college students performed skits displaying cheeky Hyderabadi humor. Many signs lead to the torch being passed on to these youth, who will no doubt continue carrying on traditions and are the future of the Hyderabadi expatriate community and of HAMD itself.
Even though HAMDâ€™s main focus is Hyderabad, Dr. Tahseen Syed, who was one of the gold sponsors of the event, has high hopes of expanding the foundation. â€œIt started with Hyderabad, and we want to make it reach the corners of the world. Charity begins at home.â€ We are not prejudiced about any other community, he explained, but â€œwant everyone to prosper.â€
National Arab American Service Day
Hamtramck–June 2–ACCESS sponsored the Detroit-area portion of a third annual National Arab American Service Day–simultaneously with other Arab community organizations around the country–this past weekend in Hamtramck by planting trees and flowers in the Hamtramck business district, and by painting and cleaning a park that has deteriorated greatly in its physical plant–now showing through litter and broken windows and walls the attrition of years of needed maintenance.
The event was a tremendous success, if only as measured by the opportunity that diverse communities had to work together in a positive way. Elected Hamtramck officials participated prominently in the event, including among others Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski, Ph.D., Mayor Pro Tem Shahad Ahmed, City Councilman Dr. Abdul Algazali, and City Councilman Scott Klein, who had spearheaded the effort to work with ACCESS on community service projects.
The National Arab American Service Dayâ€™s mission is to â€œfoster and encourage volunteerism and service among diverse communities, build bridges and connect people through the common experience of service and highlight Arab-American commitment to serving their local communities.â€
This year ACCESS estimated there were 200 volunteers who participated in the Hamtramck cleanup. Cosponsors included Loews hardware, which generously donated equipment and paid 10 employees all day to help with the work in Hamtramck, and Western Union, which sent about 10 volunteers to work.
Mr. Taleb Salhab, ACCESSâ€™s National Outreach Director, did an excellent job of coordinating, welcoming and energizing all of the media, volunteers and Hamtramck city officials who arrived early Saturday morning to help work to clean up Hamtramck.
Hamtramckâ€™s Mayor Majewski welcomed all of those who had come to Hamtramck, and gave a welcoming greeting to all of the different ethnicities who make up the Hamtramck community and neighboring communities, expressing her happiness with multiculturalism and with the many different groups of people who together make up the community of Hamtramck.
City Councilman Scott Klein was especially prominent on the Service Day because of his having spear-headed the cityâ€™s involvement in the project; and his work was greatly appreciated by ACCESS and by the city and peopole of Hamtramck.
Hamtramck has six city councilmen, three of whom are Muslim–one of Yemeni origin, one of African American origin, and another of Bangladeshi origin.
There are large communities from Yemen, Bangladesh, Bosnia, and Albania in the town, together with populations from Poland and many other countries–a jewel of multiculturalism representing the rich tapestry of American culture.