SAAHAS For Cause Celebrates Spring With a Colorful Festival

ARTESIA, California — The South Asian American community gathered at the Robert O. Little Community Center here March 9 for a traditional mela — festival — to celebrate the arrival of spring.

The mela was organized by a non-profit organization SAAHAS For Cause which has been serving for South Asian immigrant community coming to Southern California for five years. More than 300 people of all ages participated in the event. The festivities included a yoga session and meditation program, along with dancing, a fashion show, and traditional Indian food. 

Many non-profit organizations offering services to the community set up booths at the mela, including: the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, St. John’s Community Health, St. John’s Legal Services Program, Asian American Advancing Justice Southern California, and ABC Adult Schools.

“We are working toward harmony and peace in our community. One of our efforts to spread harmony is with the mela that we are celebrating today, bringing together friends, family, and neighbors,” Payal Sawhney, the founder and executive director of SAAHAS For Cause explained.

South Asians celebrate with multiple festivals to herald the arrival of spring. Holi, at which people throw colored powder at each other, was celebrated at the SAAHAS mela.

Based in Cerritos, California, SAAHAS For Cause provides wellness, health, counseling, referral for legal consultation, and English language services for seniors and women and a Youth empowerment program for young people. A tech program led by youth advocates helps bridge the generation gap between seniors and young people.

“Let’s protect youth from drug addiction,” proclaimed a poster at the SAAHAS for Youth table. “I want to really help out the immigrant community,” said Siya Mishra, a senior student at Portola High School. “I joined the tech projects program to help seniors with technical problems.” 

A Certificate of Recognition by the City of Artesia was awarded to SAAHAS For Cause at the event. “Our Stop the Hate is a very important campaign, starting as a very small campaign and it has grown,” Payal Sawhney said. “One important reason for the hate is because of the unknown factor, because of biases, people don’t know each other because people all look different, having different skin, hair colors, and different clothing.”