Baisakhi Night- A Funjabi Evening by Punjabi Culture Club of Houston

Bal Sareen and Dr. Anupam Ray 

Bal Sareen (left) and Dr. Anupam Ray. Photos: Bijay Dixit

Click here for Photo Collage

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: What do you get to see at a Baisakhi festival function, somewhere in India? Women and men adorned in their colorful best, bone crushing hugs- jhappians te pappians, vivid event full of zest and unmatched enthusiasm, bhangra and gidda performances, high decibal vocals and gallons of alcohol and food, enough to feed a small country. And what do you get to see at a Baisakhi festival event in Houston? Something similar. Read on to know more…

Punjabi Culture Club of Houston (PCC) organized a mega Baisakhi night function on Saturday, April 22, at India House, Houston. PCC had organized a grand Diwali celebration in 2012, and after a stint of 5 years came back with a bang this year to celebrate one of the most popular festivals of India. Baisakhi that falls on April 13 every year, marks the time for harvest, for the states of Punjab and Haryana. It is celebrated all over India with different names; Vishu in Kerala, Bohag Bihu in Assam, Naba Varsha or Pohela Boishakh in Bengal, Assam and Tripura, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

The social hour at the grand Baisakhi Night started at 6.30 pm. Guests were welcomed to a beautifully decorated India House foyer and to some delicious Hors d’oeuvre and drinks. Soon the hall was filled with over 200 excited guests, dressed in vibrant attires, each of them looking stunning in their own way. After all, they had gathered for the Punjabi festival much associated with fanfare and exuberance.

Event Chair- Ravi Goel, Neelu Sharma , Jasmeeta Singh

From Left: Event Chair- Ravi Goel, Neelu Sharma, Jasmeeta Singh.

Around 7.30 pm, the pitch of the dhol, played by Agam Singh, got everyone curious and had them moving to the main hall for the program. Ravi Goel welcomed everyone on behalf of PCC and gave a great boost to a wonderful evening. He coordinated the event along with Ramesh Garg and Rajinder Soni. Thereafter, Vijay Bhagi, Vice- President PCC, shared his insights about Punjabi Culture Club of Houston and urged people to join and support the organization. Ramesh Garg, then spoke about the baisakhi festival and its importance in India.

And then, it was time for the exciting entertainment to unfold. The very talented mother-daughter duo, Neelu Sharma and Dr. Namrata Sharma Goel were the emcees for the evening. Neelu Sharma, a long time Houston resident and the owner of Ashneel Travel N’ Tours, shares a keen interest of music and Indian culture along with her daughter Dr. Namrata. Neelu has successfully emceed many PCC events in the past. Dr. Namrata, a double board certified in Nephrology & Internal Medicine enjoys emceeing at various events as it helps embellish her music skills and suits her outgoing personality. They rocked the stage, somewhere talking in Punjabi, cracking jokes and having the audience up in splits. It is known that the fun-loving Punjabis, or Funjabi’s as we term them, are the best hosts. And Neelu and Dr. Namrata left no stone unturned, infact they got the crowd electrified and all super charged up for the evening.


PCC President Balwant Khurana presents the First Door Prize to Dr. Namrata Sharma Goel.

They called upon Jasmeeta Singh of Jaz Creationz, who was the creative cultural director for the evening, and responsible for organizing the amazing Punjabi folk music and dances. Jasmeeta has been associated with PCC for around eight years. She then introduced the entertainment section with some lovely shayaris, which instilled feelings in several hearts, before inviting over Amardeep Kaur. Amardeep sang a Bollywood song Heer Heer from the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan and this was quickly followed by a Bhangra Dance performance by Rice University Students, and a Giddha dance by the Preet Kaur group. The staging was electrifying, full of enthusiasm and gusto, nothing less than what one would experience in Punjab. 

After this stupendous performance, Bal Sareen, a prominent Houstonian and the benefactor for the event, came on stage and introduced the chief guest, Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray to the audience and welcomed him to speak a few words. Dr. Ray, spoke about his close association with the Punjabi culture as being a graduate of the Punjabi University of Chandigarh. He spoke about the contributions that Punjab has given to the world, and also stated a phrase, “Sadde naal rahoge to aish karoge” (If you stay with me you will enjoy), which he believes describes the true Punjabi spirit. He mentioned that stemming from the fact that an International day of Yoga is celebrated on June 21, considering the Punjabi spirit there must be an international day of bhangra too.


Later, the evening continued with some more entertainment, a Fashion Show, organized by Jasmeeta Singh. Stunning costumes were well complimented by ethnic jewelry and marvelous choreography. Some soulful songs were sung by the talented Simran Kaur and Inderjeet. After this, the vote of thanks was presented by Ram Gupta, PCC Secretary.

No Punjabi event is complete with the chickan-shikan and Patiala pegs. Scrumptious dinner catered by Bombay Brasserie was enjoyed thoroughly by each and everyone and they all danced till the wee hours. Of course, Punjabiyaan di battery charged rehndi hai. This also makes us wonder if the phrase, “burn the dance floor” was invented by Punjabis. The credit of the music goes to DJ Nayak of Nayak Productions. The Door prizes and lucky draws were sponsored by Sehgal Diamonds and Trudy’s Hallmark. Benefactors of the evening included Rita & Bal Sareen, Dr. Sippy & Ajay Khurana, and Sushila & Dr. Durga Agarwal. Prestigious sponsors included Kirti & Devki Agarwal, Meera & Suresh Chopra, Vijay & Suresh Sachdev, Neena & Ben Bansal, Dr. Namrata & Ankur Goel, Diana & Narin Sehgal, and Poonam & Raj Sehgal. Punjabi Culture Clubs Officers included Balwant Khurana (President), Vijay Bhagi (Vice-President), Aruna Goel (Treasurer), Ram Gupta (Secretary), and Ashok Sharma (Immediate Past President).

It was indeed a distinguished evening, one that will be cherished for a very long time. Let us hope to get our invite for the next party-sharty from PCC soon!