Cultural event celebrates mothers and daughters

The three friends giggled as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the middle of the living room, each woman trying desperately not to tip the huge vessel wobbling above.

In ancient times, their Punjabi ancestors would have thought little of this precarious balancing act, but for Mandeep Ghag, Sharan Randhawa and Sharan's sister-in-law Paramjit Randhawa, it was nearly impossible to stay so completely motionless without the giggles getting the better of them.

"Oh no!," cried Ghag as a container the size of a lobster pot slipped off her head.

The Kamloops women were balancing the containers to demonstrate how they plan to race-walk their way to victory in one of the unique activities at this weekend's Teeyan 2010 celebration.

"You have to run with it on your head - balanced," explained Sharan Randhawa. "And you've got to put some weight in it because, if you don't, it's going to slip off your head and fall."

Teeyan is an annual cultural event that began in ancient times in India.

It's based on a traditional dance festival that would see young married women return each spring to their parents' homes for reunions with family and friends.

"It's a gathering for girls and their mothers, really," said Randhawa.

Teeyan celebrations are popular in India, where whole villages of mothers and daughters gather for dancing, singing and cultural rituals aimed at unity and friendship.

The local Punjabi community in Kamloops has organized a Teeyan celebration for the last couple of years, bringing together not only their Indo-Canadian sisters but also women from all ethnicities.

This year's celebration takes place on Saturday at Kamloops United Church Hall, starting at 5:30 p.m., and participants don't have to be of South Asian heritage to attend.

"It's a really neat thing," said Randhawa of the diverse social atmosphere of the Teeyan gathering.

"It's for all women."

Among the highlights of Saturday's celebration will be the gagar race in which the participants will walk from one end of the room to the other without letting the containers slip from their heads.

Aside from the light-hearted competitions, the evening includes dinner, entertainment and traditional dancing. And it promises to be one of the most visually colourful gatherings in Kamloops as the women don traditional South Asia dresses in vibrant colours ranging from bright yellow to deep red.

Tickets to Teeyan 2010 are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Fortune Health Foods, 750 Fortune Dr., or by calling Rajinder Lotay at 250-372-0855 and Jasbir Sangha at 250-319-1985.

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