The First-ever Gurmukhi Keyboard based on the Gurmukhi/Punjabi Unicode Character Set is now available. Check out their website for more information.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
First the good news from the Vancouver Sun:
A Surrey man has broken his own Guinness World Record for having the world's longest beard, which now measures just under eight feet long.Now the bad news from the Toronto Star's Raveena Aulakh:
Bhai Sarwan Singh, head priest at Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh temple, was initially hesitant to go for the record.
"I was a little bit uncomfortable because I did not grow it for that purpose," said Singh, speaking through translator Avtar Singh Gill. "I am a Sikh, and as a Sikh I should not cut my hair."
Singh gave in after some convincing from friends, however, and he is glad he did.
"So many other Sikhs have called him, saying, 'You're keeping that long hair and we are cutting our beards; we should not cut them,'" Gill said. "Some of them have promised that. Now he's more comfortable than at the start."
Singh, who calls his beard a source of pride, says most people understand it is a symbol of religious faith and commitment.
"Long hair is to be respected [in the Sikh community]," said Singh. "My beard is more important to me than any other body part."
The 44-year-old has never cut or trimmed his beard. (Link)
Dode, or poppy powder, is a derivative of the highly addictive and illegal opium commonly used in Punjab, India. It tends to produce an initial high, then a calm but wakeful feeling that lasts several hours. In recent years it has become increasingly popular among Toronto's Punjabi community. Truckers and construction workers use it to stay awake and alert for long hours while on the job.
But local leaders say they are seeing an alarming increase in the use of dode among young people, as well as signs that more people are becoming addicted to the drug.
It is popular, in part, because it is easy to obtain. Despite a police crackdown that saw 1,280 kilos – $2.5 million worth – of dode seized two weeks ago from a Mississauga storage facility and homes in Brampton and Toronto, stores in Peel Region still sell it surreptitiously. Dode was made illegal in Canada about 18 months ago. (Link)
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Here's a famous video clip from Doordarshan TV by Sardool Sikander in which he sings the song Roadways Di Lari in the styles of Surinder Shinda, Kuldip Manak, Mohd Sidiq, Yamla Jatt, Dilshad Akhtar, and Gurdas Maan. I remember hearing parts of this on a audio tape years back. Its even more impresessive when you see him getting dressed as the singers and mimicking their signature moves.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Interpreting an Embrace: A Jew and a Sikh in Kansas
A shiny red, mid-sized rental car pulled up to the curb and from it emerged a very tall, dark-skinned man with an off-white turban, long graying beard, and boyish smile. "Come my friend, let me help you with your bags. On a hot day like this, we can all use some help." With that, Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia whisked me off to the Kansas City airport.
I had come to the Midwest from my home in Boston to attend the annual NAIN (North American Interfaith Network) conference. Tarunjit, vice president of this grassroots organization, and a leader in the international Sikh community, had graciously volunteered to return me to the airport.
A wise and warm person, Tarunjit gently engaged me in meaningful conversation as soon as I settled into the car. We had a wonderful time together discussing the similarities and differences between our faith traditions and the issues facing each of our minority communities in the United States. Though we had just met at the conference, we went deep quickly. Before I knew it, we had arrived at the Kansas City airport.
Tarunjit kindly stepped out of the car into the humid summer air to help me with my bags and to say goodbye. Before parting company, I thanked him for the ride and for the conversation and gave my new friend a big hug (I come from a family of huggers). With that, I headed for the check-in counter.
I didn't communicate with Tarunjit again for several months. In December 2009, I traveled to Melbourne, Australia to speak at the Parliament of the World's Religions. One morning, as I walked through the crowded hallways of the conference center, I heard someone call my name. To my pleasant surprise, it was Tarunjit. After briefly catching up, he invited me to attend a session he was going to be speaking at the following day. "I will be sharing the end of our Kansas City story," he said with a mischievous grin. "You don't know it yet, but I promise it is interesting."
Intrigued by Tarunjit's enigmatic description of the conclusion of "our" story, I arrived early for his session the next day. When it was Tarunjit's turn to present he spoke passionately about his work with NAIN and other interfaith projects and ended by telling our airport tale.
"As Or gave me a hug, I noticed that two baggage handlers standing nearby were watching us, looking curiously at our embrace. After returning my car to the rental facility I walked past the airport doors where I had left Or and saw the two men still standing there. They smiled at me and said hello, and I reciprocated. Then one of the men commented on how interesting it was to see a Jew and a Muslim hug in public (they correctly identified Or's yarmulke as a Jewish head covering, but were clearly confused by my turban). At that moment I did not feel it was important to correct the mix-up between a Muslim and a Sikh, so I let it slide. And then the other baggage handler remarked, 'You are living the future today!' I smiled and walked away; they had gotten it right after all."
As Tarunjit finished his story the audience applauded. I, of course, got up from my seat, jogged to the front of the room, and gave him a hug.
I have thought about this story several times since hearing it in Melbourne, reflecting on the great strides we have made in the interfaith movement in recent decades (could my German Jewish grandparents have ever imagined engaging in mutually enriching dialogue with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs?); the enormous amount of work that still needs to be done in interfaith education, reconciliation, and peace-building (including teaching people about the differences between Sikhism and Islam); and the wisdom and decency of Tarunjit (knowing when to push things and when to let them "slide") and so many other people I have met in my work in this field over the last several years.
As I reflect on this story in the days before Passover--the season during which Jews throughout the world celebrate the blessing and promise of freedom--I am reminded once again that the fate of my community is inextricably bound up in the fate of all others. In the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny." Recognizing the interconnection of all life, people of faith must come together to help create a more just and compassionate world.
And you never know what a hug can do!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The focus of the town hall is "to create mutual understanding and awareness of family violence issues in Toronto's South Asian communities and break down cultural stereotypes perpetuated by recent high-profile murders of South Asian women in our community. The discussion will focus on what needs to be done to move forward to address these issues, both within the South Asian communities and in the rest of the city."
Please visit the website for more information.
CBC Radio 99.1 - Metro Morning Townhall
This townhall aims to create mutual understanding and awareness of domestic violence issues in Toronto*s South Asian communities and break down cultural stereotypes perpetuated by recent high-profile murders of South Asian women in our community. The discussion will focus on what needs to be done to move forward to address these issues, both within the South Asian communities and in the rest of the city.
The event will be recorded and highlights will be broadcasted the next day on CBC Radio's Metro Morning and Here and Now, and also available online.
Date: Monday, March 29th
Time: 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: CBC's Glenn Gould Studio
250 Front Street West
The doors will be open from 6:30 p.m.
No tickets required. Seating is first come, first seated.
The family of an elderly Sikh man said he was "in shock" after his long beard was cut off by a nurse in a Fraser Health Authority extended care facility in New Westminster.
That's according to Radio India host Harpreet Singh, who said callers to the Surrey radio station's open-line show on Wednesday night expressed dismay and indignation at the incident.
According to a family friend, the man's full beard was not merely trimmed, but removed altogether, something that is a grave offence to a Sikh.
The majority of callers said "religious sentiment" should have been respected, Singh said.
The man died about two weeks ago.
The incident came to light after the Fraser Health Authority issued a public apology.The FHA said the nurse at the long-term care facility thought she had the permission of the patient's family.
"We are horrified," Fraser Health spokesperson Joan Marshall said."We're so terribly sorry that this has occurred."She said the health authority has apologized to the family and is taking "a number of steps to ensure that this does not happen again."Site orientations for new staff will now include spiritual care training that includes the tenets of the Sikh faith.A spiritual care pamphlet will also be made available to all staff, Marshall said, and other steps will be taken to ensure staff are aware and sensitive.It is the second such incident at an FHA facility in the last two years. (Link)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Things are getting ugly in Guelph and its time for the city's leadership to stand up and take action.
On early Friday morning, vandals threw bricks through the front window of the Gurdwara. This attack follows weeks of controversy surrounding attempts to rezone a piece of land to build a new Gurdwara to accommodate the growing Sikh community in Guelph. The Sikh community in Guelph has recently faced increasingly intolerant and often racist comments opposing the move.
Although those who oppose the re-zoning of the proposed Gurdwara site have a right to express their views, there is no room for bigotry, racism or now violence in the dialogue. The Sikh community can be asked to defend their zoning application, but they should not be put in the position of having to defend their presence in the community. Canadians pride themselves on the multicultural fabric of their nation and Sikhs are an integral part of that fabric. There is no reason a Gurdwara should be any more difficult to integrate into the community than a church or synagogue. (WSO)
If the above act of vandalism had been perpetrated on a Jewish Synagogue, it would have been on the front page of several newspapers and there would have been a nation outcry against the incident. Sikh-Canadians don't have the level of organization to coordinate such a campaign (yet). Plus, we've developed pretty thick skins over our 100+ years in this country. Regardless, that does nothing to minimize a situation that seems to be quickly escalating.
The good news out of this story is that the silent majority of 'Guelphers' who believe in equality and the rights of all are starting to speak up. Various faith groups have expressed support for the Gurdwara and the local newspaper, Guelph Mercury, has written several decent articles trying to educate readers about Sikhs and calm concerns about the Gurdwara (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3).
In their 2007 Strategic Plan, the mayor of Guelph, Karen Farbridge, laid out an ambitious plan for the city of Guelph. Her vision for Guelph was “to be the city that makes a difference.” The current controversy surrounding the Guelph Gurdwara now provides a golden opportunity for her and the local councillors to make a difference. Either than can choose to side with the small minority of local residents who are thinly veiling their desire to retain a white homogeneous community. Or they can embrace a modern, progressive vision for their city which reaches out to people of all backgrounds and fosters an environment of not just tolerance but celebration of diversity.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Kamal Nath currently serves as India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Allegations against Kamal Nath
On October 31, 1984, two of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards assassinated her. From November 1 to 4, Indian state institutions, such as the Delhi Police, and Congress (I) officials perpetrated mass murder of Sikhs and later justified the violence in inquiry proceedings.
When Indian Express reporter Monish Sanjay Suri went to Gurudwara Rakab Ganj in Delhi around 4 p.m. on November 1, he saw Additional Commissioner of Police Gautum Kaul standing on one side as Congress (I) leader Kamal Nath led a mob of 4000 people. In an affidavit to a government inquiry commission, Suri stated:
Outside the gurdwara I saw a crowd of about 4,000 men led by Congress-I leader Kamal Nath. At the time I went there the crowd was on the road. Some were making weak attempts to enter the Gurdwara, but the Congress-I M.P. and other leaders of the same party who were with him were keeping them under some control….Leaders of the crowd seemed fully in charge. At one point a group charged towards the Gurdwara gate to a side near which Mr. Kaul stood. But seeing them he [Kaul] retreated instead of checking them.The gang burned at least two Sikhs alive during attacks that day. (46) In their book, When a Tree Shook Delhi, reporter Manoj Mitta and attorney H.S. Phoolka, write: “Further, when he deposed orally in 2001 before the Nanavati Commission, Suri said that Kamal Nath ‘was controlling the crowd and the crowd was looking to him for directions’ and that even in the leader’s presence ‘some mobs had charged at the gurdwara.’”
The Nanavati Commission
As discussed in detail in Twenty Years of Impunity, various government committees and commissions have whitewashed the massacres.
On May 8, 2000, the Government of India appointed the latest inquiry commission, the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, to examine the massacres of Sikhs in November 1984. (130) The major failings of the Nanavati Commission’s report include its:
- Incomplete and understated description of the massacres;
- Use of euphemisms and imprecise and legally irrelevant language when stating findings against perpetrators;
- Limitation of the inquiry to Delhi alone; and
- Failure to identify the organizers of the massacres. (131)
In 2003, the Nanavati Commission issued notice to Kamal Nath that it was likely to issue negative findings against him. (95, 96) Nath denied inciting the mob to attack Gurdwara Rakab Ganj, maintaining he was attempting to disperse the mob instead. (96) Ultimately, Nanavati discounted the two witness affidavits, and therefore stated that he could not reach a conclusion on Kamal Nath’s role in the attack on Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. Justice Nanavati disposed of Indian Express reporter Monish Sanjay Suri’s affidavit because of a slight discrepancy in his stated time of arrival, between his original affidavit (4 p.m.), and his testimony over 20 years later before the Commission (between 2 and 4 p.m.). However, Justice Nanavati did not apply the same logic to the accused Kamal Nath’s affidavit. There, he acknowledged that Nath’s reply was “vague,” gave no information on when Nath got to the gurdwara and for how long Nath stayed, failed to explain why Nath did not contact the police to quell the violence, but in the end allowed for the lapse of over two decades: “At the same time it is also required to be considered that he was called upon to give an explanation after about 20 years and probably for that reason he was not able to give more details as regards when and how he went there and what he did.” (fn 900)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
If you have $10,000 to spare you can pick up this beautiful and detailed painting of Bhagat Kabir. To be auctioned by Christie's on April 13th. Here's the details (you can view the painting in more detail on the site).
KABIR, THE MYSTICAL WEAVER, WITH A DISCIPLE AND YOUNG VISITOR
SIGNED MANGAL CHATTERRA, PROBABLY AMBER OR MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1760
Gouache heightened with gold on paper, a prince wearing embroidered trousers and red turban, a sword and katar tucked into his belt, kneels watching a weaver at work, his loom before him and apprentice to his side, behind them a small hut and silvery lake with a palace on the horizon, before them another silvery stream, small gold signature along the lower edge which reads kalam Mangal Chatterra ka, small areas of staining, laid down between gold and polychrome borders on pink card with with gold floral illumination
Miniature 9 x 6¼in. (22.8 x 15.7cm.)
Saturday, March 13, 2010
That's what the Canada-India Business Council has decided to with inviting Kamal Nath, the Indian Minister of Roads & Highways to come and speak at one of their events. Mr Nath been travelling the world and speaking about the growing Indian economy but can't bury his past.
25 years ago, Mr. Nath was a front line Congress-party organizer of the 1984 Sikh pogroms in Delhi. Numerous eye witness accounts pinpoint him as a directing mobs to attack Sikhs in the vicinity of Rakab Ganj Gurdwara.
Kamal Nath, a Congress official close to the Gandhi family, helped lead a mob towards Gurdwara Rakab Ganj during the Delhi 1984 anti-Sikh pograms. He was present as a number of Sikhs were torched alive and was outside as the crowd pelted the Gurdwara, attempted to burn it, and massacre those that sought refuge inside. He has denied all allegations and numerous tribunals, although failing to convict him (or ANYONE for that matter) have all had serious questions about his alibi. (Link)Mr Nath's visit to the UK and to the US have also been protested by Sikhs. Sikh-Canadians, and anyone who believes in justice and human rights, should do the same.
Here's a press release just issued by a Sikh-Canadian organization.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canadian Sikh Coalition
SIKHS DEMAND VISA DENIAL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CRIMINAL KAMAL NATH
TORONTO, Mar. 12, 2010 - Canadian Sikhs denounce the upcoming visit to Canada of Kamal Nath, a Cabinet Minister in the government of India. Nath was invited to speak to the Canada-India Business Council in Toronto later this month.
The Canadian Sikh community is deeply saddened that Nath, who participated in the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in India, will be allowed to enter Canada. Nath, who was then an MP, allegedly led a violent mob of 4,000 Hindus which destroyed Gurdwara Rakab Ganj in New Delhi. Despite eyewitness testimony that Nath “was controlling the crowd,” he was never indicted for his role in the three day pogrom during which at least 3,000 Sikh men, women and children were brutally murdered.
Moninder Singh, spokesperson for CSC, said: “There is conclusive evidence that Kamal Nath oversaw rioters during their savage and destructive attacks on Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. He issued directions to a crowd with blood on their hands, who fulfilled his violent orders as the lifeless bodies of innocent Sikhs lay abandoned and burning in the road. Canada is a nation which treasures human rights and should explicitly forbid entry by people like Nath.”
Sikh community organizations have also protested visits by Kamal Nath to the United States, including his 2008 speech at Northwestern University in Illinois. Some Western nations, including the U.S. and Britain, have denied visas to other Indian politicians guilty of crimes against humanity. Notably, in October 2009, British authorities denied a visa for former Indian Cabinet Minister Jagdish Tytler, who organized bloodthirsty crowds to exterminate Sikhs in 1984.
Tens of thousands of Sikhs have fled persecution in India to find freedom in Canada. Sikhs implore their government to adopt a more attentive approach to reviewing future high-profile Indian visa requests. Canada has always served as a beacon of human rights, yet allowing politicians like Nath into the country implies tolerance of his crimes. The Canadian government should revoke his visa and take steps to ensure that other perpetrators of egregious human rights violations are always banned from crossing Canadian borders.
Canadian Sikh Coalition
Phone: 604.302.3345 or 604.833.4550
Ontario Gurdwaras Committee
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Canada, Malton ON
Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Surrey B.C
Sikh Spiritual Centre, Rexdale ON
Guru Nanak Sikh Centre, Brampton ON
Gurdwara Sikh Sangad, Brampton ON
Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Weston ON
Dashmesh Culture Centre, Calgary AB
Sikh Society of Calgary, Calgary AB
Baba Banda Singh Bahadar Sikh Society, Abbotsford BC
Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Alberta, Edmonton AB
Gurudwara Guru Amar Das Darbar, Kelowna BC
Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Victoria, Victoria BC
Guru Nanak Darbar Society, Prince George BC
Friday, March 12, 2010
Some great quotes about gratitude that I found online. Makes you appreciate what you have rather than long for what you don't.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." -Albert Schweitzer
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus
"Go to foreign countries and you will get to know the good things one possesses at home." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road." -John Henry Jowett
“For each new morning with its light,For rest and shelter of the night,For health and food, for love and friends,For everything Thy goodness sends.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.” -G.B. Stern
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" -William A. Ward
"No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night." -Elie Wiesel
"Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic"
- John Henry Jowett
"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily." - Gerald Good
"Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life." -Christiane Northrup
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” -Margaret Cousins
"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation."
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”-Eric Hoffer
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.” -Buddha
“To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.” -Albert Schweitzer
“Let's be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.” - Marcel Proust
“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” - Alfred Painter
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
-The Bible Phil 4:6 NKJV
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart
"Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors." - François Duc de La Rochefoucauld
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." - G.K. Chesterton
"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get." - Frank A. Clark
"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." - Henry Ward Beecher
Thursday, March 11, 2010
A great new song by Manmohan Waris called Dhian, Rukh te Pani talking about three of the most pressing concerns facing Punjab, female infanticide, deforestation / soil erosion, and water contamination.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
A Poem by MICHELE GIBSON
She stands above the iron
The smell of warm cotton rising
Mixed with starch and steam
Six yards of cloth stretch out beside her
Suspended along three kitchen chairs
The great length dissects the room
Corner to corner
Pressing one foot at a time
She folds them neatly to her side
Pace by pace
Drawing in the shrinking length,
Measure by measure
The bolt of fabric
Rendered to a crisp and sturdy stack
One square foot wide
She calls to her beloved
He charges up the stairs
This is their routine
He is a handsome man with flowing hair
Dark eyes smiling
She has loved him for eternity
From the far end of the room
They open wide the freshly minted cloth
Fold and fold until they meet
Then he kisses her,
She leaves and reappears
Her turban tied
Ever so precisely
While he irons his six yards of cotton