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UNC PakSoc hosts Basant festival to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan

20230216_Peng_university-pak-soc-basant-festival-preview
Scenes from UNC Pakistan Society's 2022 Basant Festival. Photo courtesy of UNC Pakistan Society.

This Friday, kites will paint the sky over Hooker fields as students have the opportunity to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan.     

The UNC Pakistan Society (PakSoc) will hold the Basant Kite Flying Festival, a celebration of the arrival of spring through the flying traditional Pakistani kites on the Field from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. Students will also be able to play frisbee, tug-of-war, badminton and more during the event.

PakSoc will donate 15 percent of Basant festival ticket sales to support flood relief in Pakistan from severe monsoons this past summer.  

“One-third of the country has been submerged by the flooding, and that's around 33 million people being affected,” Shehzil Abdul Rahim, president of PakSoc, said.  

She also said it's important for attendees of the event to recognize the cause behind the festival.

“As college students, there's only so much we can do at moments,” Rahim said. “The importance is not only bringing your community together but having a purpose. Yes, we're going to have fun at Basant, but underneath that fun, there's a reason behind it.” 

Sophomore Rayaan Bashir, the outreach chairperson for PakSoc, said although the club hosted a flood relief fundraiser last August, conditions in Pakistan have only worsened, and communities there continue to struggle. 

Last semester's event, the Mehndi Ki Raat festival, honored Pakistani traditions and featured henna tattoos, dance performances and food boards. 

“30 percent of our sales went to flood relief,” PakSoc Events Coordinator Aleena Islam said. “I think this semester, we're really just trying to kind of continue that theme of advocating for Pakistani issues and doing our part to give back to Pakistan.” 

The main activity of the upcoming Basant Festival will be kite-flying. 

Islam said the kites are a pastime for many children in Pakistan and a way for students to become involved in Pakistani culture.  

“Pakistani kites are a big thing. A lot of kids grow up playing with them, and my parents grew up playing with kites,” she said. 

Along with t-shirt designing for the festival, Bashir said he is also in charge of planning supplementary fundraising promotions that will be donated to flood relief organizations in Pakistan’s most affected areas.

One of these fundraising projects is the club’s Instagram “Dare Board,” through which students can give $3 to make a board member act on a variety of dares. 

“We've been very fortunate to have a lot of donations come in through this, and it's really nice to see because 100 percent of everything goes (to Pakistan), ” she said.

Rahim also said PackSoc prides itself on spreading Pakistan's culture to people of all ethnicities in the UNC community.

 “You do not have to be Pakistani by any means to join our club. Our club is more about promoting and showcasing the culture rather than you having to be that culture,” she noted.

Tickets for the Basant Kite Flying Festival are open to all and can be purchased for $10 each via Venmo @UNC-PAKSOC with a name, email and number of requested tickets.

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