Thousands of women had the chance to sit back, relax and watch dozens of performances at the 16th annual Teeyan da Mela Sunday at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds.

Sukhmanie Singh was one of the early performers at the annual women's festival that featured more than 20 performances by more than 200 performers.

The 18-year-old dancer from Yuba City twirled in circles while dancing with her arms above her head most of the performance, as members of the audience clapped to the beat of the music.

"I'm just trying to have fun and enjoy myself while I'm up there," Singh said.

Friends Jasjeet Kaur, 13, and Ivreen Kaur, 14, both of Yuba City, practiced eight weeks before taking the stage and performing together.

"It is a chance for girls to show themselves to the world," Ivreen said.

Ivreen likes performing and said it is nice being around women so she can open up and not be shy.

Jasjeet, who has performed at the annual event for three years, said it is amazing to perform in front of a crowd of women.

"Girls have the power to do anything," Jasjeet said.

Parminder Takhar, founder and director of the International Organization of Punjabi Women Inc., which puts on the event, said at midday the free event appeared to be another large success.

"We are promoting women here," Takhar said.

In addition to a stage that featured one act after another, about 17 vendors were on hand selling everything from food to jewelry to henna tattoos.

Toni Birdi of Manteca, who attended with her daughter's dance group, said she really enjoyed the celebration.

She was busy backstage taping a piece of jewelry to her daughter's head so it wouldn't bounce around during the performance.

"There is a nice warm welcome to participants and families from the Central Valley," Birdi said.

"Most important, for the young girls, they learn their culture, and it stays with them,"

Paramjit Hansra, a member of the Punjabi organization, agreed.

"Seeing the little girls that are so excited to performs is great," Hansra said.

"To see the kids accepting the culture is priceless."

CONTACT David Bitton at 749-4796. Find him on Facebook at ADdbitton.

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