Monday, December 28, 2009

Dec 28: Martyrdom of the Two Youngest Sahibjadey

This is taken from

As the year approaches the end, on December 28 every year, the global world Sikh community commemorate the martyrdom of three of their most loved figures of the Guru household. On this darkest of days, their youngest hero and bravest comrade of Sikhism, Sahibzada Fateh Singh (1699-1705) who was the youngest of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (1696-1705), his elder brother and Mata Gujar Kaur ji, his grandmother sacrificed their lives for their faith and the right to remain Sikhs.

Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib which is situated 5 km north of Sirhind marks the sad site of the execution of the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh at the behest of Wazir Khan of Kunjpura, the faujdar of Sirhind. The three shrines exist within this Gurdwara complex to mark the exact spot where these tragic events were witnessed in 1705.

Baba Fateh Singh with his elder brother, set a precedence in Sikh history (and perhaps also in world history) by becoming the youngest known martyrs to sacrifice their lives for their principles and the right to practice their religion and their faith without coercion or the threat of terror. Even at such a tender age of 6 years, Baba Fateh Singh showed courage, determination and free-will not to be intimidated by the cruel, barbaric and unjust authorities of the time. He showed composure, fearlessness and the renowned trait of unparalleled heroism becoming of the Sikh leadership and was prepared to sacrifice his life but not his faith.

The mind boggles to understand how children of such young age had the guts, courage, bravery and focus to refuse the promise of many lavish gifts and a future of cosy comforts of royalty that were being offered by the Mughals if they abandoned their faith against the other stark option of a brutal, painful and tragic death entombed within a wall of bricks and mortar. The world salutes the supreme sacrifice of these kids of steel who never once - even of a moment considered the easy option and always remained focused on their mission to uphold the principles of God's kingdom and allowed their bodies to be tortured and violated and endured the intense pain of a slow, pain-ridden and certain death.

On the one hand the world witnessed, the supreme sacrifice of the youngest members of the Guru household for the highest ideals of humanity and on the other hand you have the lowly, cruel, cold-blooded and barbaric acts of the mighty, heartless and immoral rulers of a huge nation. May the world reflect on this grim and gutless episode in the history of humanity and learn from it the values of life and the way to uphold these values and the dangers posed by an uncontrolled and immoral mind.

On 26 December 1705, Baba Fateh Singh ji was cruelly and mercilessly martyred at Sirhind along with his elder brother, Zorawar Singh. He is probably the youngest recorded martyr in history who knowingly and consciously laid down his life at the very tender age of 6 years. Sahibzada Fateh Singh and his older brother, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh are among the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism.

As soon as the two Sahibzadas attained martyrdom, Mata Gujri ji, who was sitting in meditation in the tower, breathed her last. The messenger who came with the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzade found that Mata-Ji had already attained salvation. There was great commotion in the town of Sirhind. Everyone was furious at the atrocious crime. They were unanimous in their view that this heinous act would herald the doomsday of the Mughal Empire. They admired the courage and steadfastness of the brave sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and remarked, "What determination at such a young age! They did not budge an inch from their position in spite of several allurements by the Nawab and Qazi."

The same evening Dewan Todar Mal, a jeweller reached Nawab Wazir Khan's court for permission to cremate the dead bodies of the two Sahibzadas and Mata Gurji. So as to highlight the extreme cruelty of the administration, the Nawab agreed on condition that the dewan paid for the required piece of land by spreading as many Gold coins as would cover the entire spot. The dewan accepted the terms and brought bagfuls of gold coins to satisfy the condition set by the Mughal administration. He marked the site and spread coins on entire piece of land he selected for cremation. The two martyred young sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji were cremated with full honours along with their grand mother.

There is no parallel to the martyrdom of such young boys in the annals of human history. Sahibzada Fateh Singh was less than six years old (born 1699) and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh was just over eight (born in 1696). They laid down their lives in December 1705. At such a tender age, they were bricked alive but did not bow before the tyranny and cruelty of the Mughal government. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was at the time in the forests of Machhiwara when the news of the martyrdom of his younger sons reached him. On hearing this he pulled out a plant with the tip of his arrow and prophesized that this tragedy will herald the uprooting of Mughal Empire in India. And to the Emperor he wrote in the Zafarnama: "…Even though my four sons were killed, I remain like a coiled snake. What bravery is it to quench a few sparks of life?..... When God is a friend, what can an enemy do, even though he multiplies hundred times? If an enemy practices enmity and hatred a thousand times, he cannot, as long as God is a friend, injure even a hair on one’s head."

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji addressed his followers and reassured them thus: "Although, four of my sons have joined Waheguru, many thousands of my sons are still alive", meaning that the Guru accepted all Sikhs as his sons and daughters. A wave of anguish gripped the country as the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas spread. After some time the recluse Banda Bairagi came under the influence of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and was made a Khalsa as was Banda Singh Bahadar. He undertook the task of dealing with these cruel oppressors and shook the very heart of the Mughal empire. The town of Sirhind was reduced to utter ruins as a consequence of the cruel, uncaring and heartless treatment of the Sahibzade.

The renowned Hindi poet, Maithli Saran Gupta in his well known book Bharat Bharati said: "Whatever their present position, the future of the community whose sons can thus lay down their lives for their faith, is bound to be glorious."

Friday, December 25, 2009

News Article From Sikhnet

Christmas - Walking the Line Between Two Cultures

December 24th, 2009 by Erin Donaghue Source:

To tree or not to tree? It's only one of the many dilemmas county Sikhs are faced with around the holiday season. And for followers of the faith, there seems to be just as many approaches to melding their own traditions with the Santas, reindeer, presents and elves that are pervasive in the communities in which they live.

For Sikh families in the county, many of whom worship at the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in North Potomac, navigating the holiday season often means celebrating different traditions from multiple cultures — though no one family navigates the cultural divide in quite the same way.

"In the beginning it was like, ‘OK, when in Rome,'" said Burtonsville resident Gagan Narang. Born in India, Narang worships with her family at the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. Though the family doesn't celebrate Christmas, Narang said that she used to put up a Christmas tree when her children — now 20, 18 and 15 — were young. "It's all the marketing," she added. "There's a lot of pressure on the kids and they want presents, so it's easy to get swayed."

Now that her children are older and have learned more about their cultural heritage, she said, a bit of the pressure has been alleviated. For now, the Christmas tree is sitting in her basement. But she still enjoys giving small gifts around the holidays and attending Christmas parties at the homes of her Christian friends. "Time is too short — why not take every excuse to celebrate?" she said.

The Sikh religion is based on the belief in one God and a strong adherence to equality for all men and women. Sikhs follow the teachings of 10 spiritual teachers, or gurus, who lived from 1469 to 1708. Many Sikh men and women carry the same last name — Singh for men, and Kaur for women — because when the religion was founded in India last names were tell-tale signs of the caste to which a person belonged. Sikhs are known for keeping long hair, and men wear turbans and boys wear head coverings known as patkas.

Sikhs do have several celebrations around this time of year, most notably the birthday celebration of the first guru, Guru Nanak Dev, which fell on Nov. 2 this year. Sikhs will also celebrate the birthday of the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, on Jan. 5. While the celebrations involve singing, reading of the sacred scripture, processions and the sharing of sweets, there isn't too much emphasis on the gift-giving that's typical of Christmas, Narang said.

Some county families celebrate Guru Nanak Dev's birthday and go on to partake in Christmas traditions around the holidays. Harminder Kaur, a Potomac resident, says she puts up a Christmas tree with her children, 9, 15 and 19. "It's just about holiday cheer, and it's nice to have lights in the house," Kaur said. "We don't attach any religious significance to it, and I don't have mistletoe and all that."
Kaur's son, Vikram Mangat, a sophomore at Winston Churchill High School, said that the family tries to give back to those in need around the holidays. They also celebrate with Christian friends, he said. "We go to their house and we eat dinner and show our respect toward their celebration," he said.
Not all county Sikhs, however, put up a Christmas tree around the holidays. "Christmas has a lot of religious meaning, and that's not the religion that we follow," said North Potomac resident Ravi Singh. However, he said his family strings lights on his home to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak Dev in November, and leaves the lights on until the holiday marking Guru Gobind Singh's birthday in January.

When walking the line between two cultures, there isn't always a clear-cut solution, many say. As the first generation in her family to immigrate to the United States, Narang said she can't fall back on advice from her parents on how to meld holiday traditions. "We are making our mistakes and hopefully doing a few things right in the process," Narang said. "I'm hoping when my kids are all grown up, they'll know what to do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saka Chamkaur Sahib: Shaheedi Jorh Mela: Dec 21

This was taken from Manvir Singh Khalsa's blog and provides excellent information on the Saka Chamkaur and the martydom of the two older Sahibjadey of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Today is the commemoration day of "Saka Chamkaur," a unique battle that took place, in which Guru Gobind Singh jee's two elder Sahibzaadey (princes) attained shaheedi (martydom) along with 40 other Singhs. I felt inspired to write this after listening to Dr. Gurdeep Singh jee on radio this morning. The Katha (account) which he gave about the episode of Chamkaur Sahib has been written down and translated by Daas.

Evacuation of Anandpur Sahib
Guru Gobind Singh jee and 400 Sikhs left Sri Anandpur Sahib on the bitter cold and rainy night of December 5 1704 after a prolonged siege by the Mughal and Hindu Hill chieftains’ armies. The Mughals and Hindu Hill chieftains had offered Guru Sahib a safe passage to leave Anandpur Sahib on an oath on the Quran by emperor Aurangzeb and an oath on the cow (which Hindus consider as sacred) by the hill chieftains. However, their oaths were meaningless and they betrayed Guru Sahib.

Separation of the Family (Parivaar Vichhoraa)
In the early hours of the morning at the river Sarsa the Guru and his Sikhs were attacked by the Mughal army under the command of Wazir Khan, breaking their oath to of safe conduct. In the confusion, which followed the attack in the cold and darkness, many Sikhs became Shaheed (martyrs). A group of Singhs fought the armies and kept them back while the rest of the Sikhs, Guru Sahib and Guru Sahib’s family crossed the river in the heat of the battle. Many Sikhs perished in crossing the cold river and got swept away by the current of the river. During the confusion in crossing the River Sarsa, Guru Sahib was separated from his family. Guru jee, his two eldest sons and 40 Sikhs were able to cross the river and were united on the other side. Gurdwara Parivaar Vichhora Sahib is built on the spot where the battle occurred and the Gurus family were separated.

Chamkaur Sahib
On 20 December 1704 Guru Sahib and the 40 Singhs camped in an open space in Ropar. Bhai Budhi Chand who owned a Haveli (open house) in the town of Chamkaur visited Guru Sahib and offered his home and family at the Feet of the Guru. Guru Sahib had once visited the mud-house of Bhai Budhi Chand when returning from Kurekshetr. Guru Sahib and the 40 Singhs moved into house of Bhai Budhi Chand situated on a hill, which became a mud-fort of Guru Sahib.

At Amritvela (early hours of the day before sunrise) Guru Sahib woke up Bhai Sangat Jee. “Wake up Sangat Singh, its time for Aasa Di Vaar. Let’s do Keertan,” Guru jee said. What amazing Warrior Guru jee was! An army of 100,000 are pursuing Guru Sahib and planning to attack the place where they are staying, and Guru Sahib is still blissfully continuing his routine Rehat of Nitnem and Aasa Di Vaar Keertan with all Singhs joining in. Nawab Wazir Khan, announced outside the fort of Chamkaur, “Gobind Singh! If you and your Sikhs come out now, you will be spared!” Guru Sahib replied to this with rain of arrows. There was silence now in the cold morning. Clouds filled the sky and thundered and let out lightening. Guru Jee and the Singhs became ready for the battle.

Preparing for Battle
There was a chill in the air and morning had not yet come. A Mughal messenger came to see Guru Sahib to negotiate with Sikhs. However, Guru Sahib told the messenger to go away or face death. Inside the four walls of the mud-house Guru Sahib declares war.

First one Singh comes out and when he is about to become Shaheed (martyr), he roars the Jaikaaraa (slogan) of “Sat Siree Akaal!” As soon as the sound of “Sat Siree Akaal” echoes from the battlefield, the next Singh comes out to fight in the battleground. The Nawab was astonished at what these Singhs were made of. One Sikh equalled Savaa Lakh (125,000).

Baba Ajeet Singh jee Seeks Permission To Fight
Baba Ajeet Singh jee now goes before Guru Sahib. "Dear father, permit me to go and fight on the battleground and grace me with the oppurtunity to make my life fruitful and worthy in your service.” Guru Gobind Singh jee hugged his beloved son and gave him a Shastr (weapon). A beard or moustache has yet not grown on Baba Ajeet Singh jee’s face, showing how young he was. Every father wants to see their child get married, but this is the time of fighting the enemy. Death is waiting and today Baba Ajeet Singh will be marrying death.

The sun is about to come out. Guru jee saw that Nawab Wazir Khan wants to take hold of the fort of Chamkaur in one go. The Nawab surrounded the fort with his armies. At this time the Singhs did a benti (request) to Guru Sahib that there is no means of escaping the siege, please escape with Sahibzaadey. However the Guru Sahib told them that there is no difference between the Singhs and the Sahibzaadey. “You are all mine! We will be victorious and we will all be free.”

Baba Ajeet Singh roars in the Battlefield
Baba Ajeet Singh jee boldly and valiantly comes out of fort, accompanied with 8 other Singh, which includes one of the original Panj Piaare, Bhai Mohkam Singh jee. Guru jee watches the battle scene from the top of the fort. There is silence on all four sides. As they come into the battleground they roar Jaikaare, which sounds everywhere like a roar of a lion. Today the 8 Singhs feel proud that under the leadership of Baba Ajeet Singh jee they have been blessed with an opportunity to fight alongside Baba Ajeet Singh jee. Baba Ajeet Singh jee advances on the battlefield and shows weaponry skills with great courage and bravery. The army surrounds the Sahibzaada on four sides. Baba Ajeet Singh calls out, “Come nearer if you have guts.” Soldiers run away frightened. Now they come back in a large group. They have no guts to individually fight Baba Ajeet Singh jee.a large group. They have no guts to individually fight Baba Ajeet Singh jee.

The Singhs weaponry skill on the battlefield reminds the Mughal soldiers of Allah, as they fear their lives. While fighting, Baba Ajeet Singh jee’s Kirpan (sword) breaks. He then begins to fight with a Nejaa (spear). However, when killing one Mughal chief the Nejaa became stuck in his chest. But Baba Ajeet Singh jee remained in bliss and peace. While fighting, all 8 Singhs become Shaheed (martyrs). One Mughal chief injured Baba jee’s horse. As a result he fought on the ground with his talwaar (sword). With each blow of the sword, he split the enemy into two. When he strikes the enemy twice with his sword, they are cut up into four pieces. Now the army surrounds Baba jee. Guru jee watches. When Baba jee attains Shaheedi, Guru Sahib roars a Jaikaaraa of “Sat Siree Akaal.”

Baba Jujhar Singh ready for Shaheedi
The news of Baba Ajeet Singh jee attaining Shaheedi (martyrdom) spread. Hearing the news of his brother, Baba Jujhar Singh jee now desired to fight in the battlefield. He asked Guru Sahib, “Permit me, dear father, to go where my brother has gone. Don’t say that I am too young. I am your son; I am a Singh, a Lion, of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with the Naam on my lips and the Guru in my heart.” Guru Gobind Singh jee embraced him and said, "Go my son and wed life-giving bride, Death.” Guru Sahib gave blessings to Baba Jujhar Singh jee; just a father gives blessings to the bride on the day of her marriage. Guru jee added, “I asked my father to give his life for "dharam" (righteousness and justice). Today, what I told my father, I now tell you.” Bhai Himmat Singh jee and Bhai Sahib Singh jee (two of the original Panj Piaare) along with 3 other Singhs accompanied Sahibzaada Baba Jujhar Singh jee. The Mughals were shocked at what they saw. It looked as if Ajeet Singh has come back.

ਐਸੀ ਮਰਨੀ ਜੋ ਮਰੈ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਮਰਨਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥
aisee marnee jo marai, bahur na marnaa hoe. 1. Whoever dies, let him die such a death, that he does not have to die again. 1. (Ang 555, SGGS)

Fighting Til The Last Breath
Dead bodies laid everywhere. The army assemble to kill Baba Jujhar Singh jee. He is now surrounded and has a Nejaa (spear) in his hand. Wherever the Nejaa hits, the enemy is destroyed. He also used a Khanda (double-sword), with which he killed the enemy as if a farmer is cutting his crop. Guru jee saw that Baba jee is being surrounded and the opportunity to kill the Mughal soldiers is decreasing. So Guru Sahib sprayed arrows in the air. In the army they call this ‘Protection Fire.’ The person providing Protection Fire must be very skilful and precise because if the target is missed, people on the same side can be killed. Guru Sahib gave Protection Fire with arrows, but none of the 5 singhs or Baba jee were hit or injured by the arrows. Baba jee and the 5 Singhs demonstrated the Sikh concept of one equalling “Savaa Lakh” (125,000).

Baba Jujhar Singh eventually was enabled to break the ring of the Mughal army surrounding him. Baba jee then attained Shaheedi.
ਸੂਰਾ ਸੋ ਪਹਿਚਾਨੀਐ ਜੁ ਲਰੈ ਦੀਨ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ॥
sooraa so pahichaanee-ai, jo larai deen ke het.
That person alone is known as a spiritual warrior, who fights in defence of religion.

ਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥
purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhoo na chhaadai khet. 22.
They may be cut apart, piece by piece, but they never leave the field of battle. 22.
(Ang 1105, SGGS)
This is the sign of a true warrior! By the time Baba Jujhar Singh jee had attained Shaheedi nightfall had arrived and the moon could be seen in the sky. Guru Sahib writes in his writing, the Zafarnama:
ਚਿ ਕਸਮੇ ਕੁਰਾਂ ਮਨ ਕੁਨਮ ਏਤਬਾਰ ਵਗਰਨਾ ਤੁ ਗੋਈ ਮਨ ਈਂ ਰਾਹਚਿਕਾਰ
che kasm-e kuraa(n), man kunam eitbaar
vagarnaa tu goee, man ee(n) raah chi-kaar
What trust can I have on your oath on Koran? Otherwise, why should I have taken this path (of taking up the sword)?
(Line 23, Zafarnama)

Leaving Chamkaur Sahib
During the night Bhai Daya Singh jee and Bhai Dharam Singh jee (two of the original Panj Piaare) along with Bhai Maan Singh jee and other singhs remain in the fort of Chamkaur Sahib. There were a total of 10 Singhs left. Now the Guru-roop Panj Piaare (Five Singhs) gave Hukam to Guru Sahib to leave the fort. Guru Sahib accepted the decision of the 'Guru Khalsa'. Before Guru Sahib left the Garhi of Chamkaur, he put his dress and his Kalgee (plume) on Bhai Sangat Singh jee, who looked very much like Guru Sahib. The Mughals thought they were fighting the Guru, while Guru Sahib escaped after challenging them. Guru Sahib did not leave quietly. On leaving, Guru Sahib blew his horn and stood on high ground and clapped his hands three times saying “Peeré Hind Rahaavat” (“The "Peer" of India is Leaving”).

Guru jee along with the Bhai Daya Singh jee and Bhai Dharam Singh jee left the garhi at night, leaving Bhai Sangat Singh jee and a few others behind. They were told to keep the army engaged the next day when the fighting restarts. In the morning when the army attacked the Sikhs they were ready to defend themselves. Finally when all Sikhs fell fighting, the enemy soldiers entered the Garhi. The Mughal commanders were overjoyed to see the dead body of Bhai Sangat Singh jee because they mistook him for Guru jee. Later, when more people were shown the dead body, they identified it not to be that of Guru Gobind Singh jee. The commanders felt ashamed of their failure to kill or capture Guru Sahib.

Shaheedaa(n) Nu Lakh Lakh Parnaam.
We salute those who died for our today and died fighting for Dharam.

You can download the Zafarnama, written by Guru Gobind Singh jee below:
(note: Guru jee writes about the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib on pg. 7)

Please forgive me for any mistakes made when writing this.

Finally Updated

I know it has been a long time since I updated the blog. Here is a nice story I found on Manvir Singh Khalsa's blog:

The Secret of Life

Have you read this before?
Discover the 90/10 Principle. It will change your life(at least the way you react to situations). What is this principle?

10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react. What does this mean?

We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us. We cannot stop the car from breaking down. The plane will be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off. A driver may cut us off in traffic. We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How? By your reaction. You cannot control a red light., but you can control your reaction. Don't let people fool you; YOU can control how you react.

Let's use an example.
You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just what happened. What happens when the next will be determined by how you react.You curse. You harshly s'cold your daughter for knocking the cup over.

She breaks down in tears. After s'colding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus. Your spouse must leave immediately for work.

You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph speed limit. After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye. After arriving at the office 20 minutes late, you find you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to coming home, When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.

Why? Because of how you reacted in the morning. Why did you have a bad day?

A) Did the coffee cause it?
B) Did your daughter cause it?
C) Did the policeman cause it?
D) Did you cause it?

The answer is " D".

You had no control over what happened with the coffee.

How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day. Here is what could have and should have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, "It's ok honey, you just need, to be more careful next time". Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.

Notice the difference?
Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.

Why? Because of how you REACTED. You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% was determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle. If someone says something negative about you, don't be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don't have to let the negative comment affect you! React properly and it will not ruin your day. A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, getting stressed out etc.

How do you react if someone cuts you off in traffic?
Do you lose your temper? Pound on the steering wheel?
A friend of mine had the steering wheel fall off)
Do you curse?
Does your blood pressure skyrocket?
Do you try and bump them?
WHO CARES if you arrive ten seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive? Remember the 90/10 principle, and do not worry about it.

You are told you lost your job. Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Use your worrying energy and time into finding another job.The plane is late; it is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take out your frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on. Use your time to study, get to know the other passenger. Why get stressed out? It will just make things worse. Now you know the 90-10 principle. Apply it and you will be amazed at the results. You will lose nothing if you try it.

The 90-10 principle is incredible. Very few know and apply this principle.

The result? Millions of people are suffering from undeserved stress, trials, problems and heartache.

We all must understand and apply the 90/10 principle.

It CAN change your life!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I asked God

From Painting My Life Blog

I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations;
it isn’t granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings
you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said…Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

The writer is anonymous, this was not written by me. However, it is saturated with the truth. We often keep asking God for more, but everything is a blessing. When we are unawakened, we are blind to the limitless miracles all around us.

Sikh Youth Slate Wins in Surrey- From

Youth Slate to run No. 2 Sikh temple in Canada
Updated: Mon Nov. 24 2008 13:43:22

A Sikh Youth slate has taken control of North America's second largest Sikh temple, after being elected to run the executive of the Guru Nanak Temple in Surrey, B.C.
Observers say the Sikh Youth slate was able capitalize on in-fighting between two separate groups of moderate Sikhs, who have managed to retain control of the Temple for the past decade.

This election is being closely watched because of divisions within the community over issues such as the use of tables and chairs in the communal dining area, a place that is meant to promote equality.

The moderate Sikhs have favoured keeping tables and chairs at the temple, while the Youth Slate favours getting rid of them.
It is an issue that has sparked violence in the past.
When the results were declared at 3:00 a.m. on Monday, the more fundamentalist Sikh Youth slate emerged with 5,900 votes, beating a moderate slate led by Balwant Singh Gill, which came in second with 4,470 votes.
Another group of moderate Sikhs, led by Sadhu Samra came in third with 3,947 votes.
Of the roughly 21,000 Temple members who are eligible to vote, 14,594 actually did so.
Now that the Youth slate has won, it is expected to hold a referendum on the issue of whether to keep tables and chairs in the temple.
Like another youth slate which controls the Sikh Temple Sukhsagar in New Westminster, Guru Nanak's new executive is expected to hold seminars in a bid to discourage young Sikhs from taking drugs and get them more involved in religion and temple affairs.

"We're a new generation and we're hoping we can just put the whole community together again, and you know, move past this issue of the tables and chairs," said Randheer Singh, a Youth Slate member told CTV on Sunday.

Under the new executive, the temple will no longer be used for political purposes, said Radio India talk show host Harpreet Singh.

Guru Nanak is North America's second largest Sikh temple. The Ross Street Temple in Vancouver is the largest.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

War Story

In 2005 an American woman wrote a letter on the SikhNet Question & Answer forum sharing some things that I thought you might like to read.

“First, I would like to say Hello to everyone here and wish you all the Peace of God in your lives. I am a Christian who came here to learn about Sikhism, and I have never posted before, but I would like to do so now, as I have recently read some posts from the young people here about the difficulty of keeping hair, beard and turban in a western country.
“I am not young, I am 44 years old. The reason I wanted to learn about Sikhism is that during World War II, in Italy, my favorite, and very loving uncle was an American soldier. At the battle of Cassino, he was wounded, could not walk, and was buried so deep in the mud that when the American troops went by, they thought he was dead. When my uncle regained consciousness, he thought he was finished, and began what he thought were his final prayers. After some time, he saw the legs of soldiers, and he cried out in a weak voice "water". A Sikh soldier came to help him. He carried him over two miles on his own back under heavy gunfire to a medical aid station. If it was not for a Sikh, I would not ever have had the opportunity to know my Uncle Danny, who was very special to me. Uncle Danny did not know what a Sikh was, but he was very thankful for being saved. Before the Sikh soldier left him at the medical station, he asked him what his name was, all the soldier said was ‘Singh.’
“Uncle Danny wrote from the hospital to his sister, my grandmother, about this soldier over 60 years ago, in a letter. He also wrote to his commanding officer to tell him that this man should get a medal, but all he knew was that his name was ‘Singh,’ and he could never locate him.
”Way back in 1965 when I was 5 years old, Uncle Danny took me to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia because everyone else in the family was tired, and I was the ‘baby’ of the family, and his children were already grown at that time; he volunteered to keep me quiet:-) Well, when we were downtown at the parade, a man with a turban, beard and the biggest moustache I had ever seen walked by, and I asked my uncle to pick me up because I was frightened of him. Uncle Danny picked me up and said, ‘Elena, don’t be afraid of him. He is a ‘Singh’, and ‘Singhs’ are the bravest and kindest people I have ever known. They come from a far away country called India, where I know there are a lot of brave people, but they are the best.’
“Uncle Danny died of cancer in 1977, when I was in my first year in college. Before his death he was the father of two daughters, and grandfather of four children, not to mention loving uncle to my mother and all of us. If it were not for a Sikh, he would not have come home to us.
“Although I have known Sikhs in the past, and was friendly with several especially during my college years, I became interested in understanding their beliefs because of two incidents; the first being the hate crimes committed against Sikhs after 9-11, and the second was inheriting the family photos and papers when my grandmother died in December 2003, three weeks away from her 92nd birthday. When I went through the box of papers and photos, I found the letters Uncle Danny had written to her during the War about the ‘Singh’ who saved his life. At the time I found the letters, I also recalled that Thanksgiving Day when I first saw a Sikh. The Sikhs I had known in the past were also very upstanding and decent people who would help anyone, of any faith, or race, and I became interested in what their religious teachings were, as I thought it may have something to do with the way they behave towards others. I also wanted to learn about Sikh beliefs because I live in an area where there has been a lot of prejudice after 9-11, and if there is anyway that I can help by teaching people, or even just saying something positive about my Sikh neighbors when I hear ignorance, I wanted to be able to tell them more than just, ‘they are not Muslims.’So please, to all the Sikh youth out there that are considering giving up your hair, beards and turbans, I would ask you to reconsider, and keep your identity. Practice your faith, as it is very beautiful.
“Although I am a Christian, I am of Middle Eastern back ground, so I know what prejudice can do; I also belong to a Christian group that believes in head coverings, and after 9-11 it was frightening for a while. I really wanted to take off my headscarf, and look like everyone else. After much prayer and soul searching I came to the conclusion that God and my belief in my path to Him was the most important thing, not the opinions of others.
“All you need to do is to be a faithful Sikh, and let people get to know you, and the wonderful person you are, because you are faithful.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you, and I wish you all of God’s blessings in your life.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sikhs in the World Wars

Over 138,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I, many of them Sikhs. More than one quarter of these soldiers would became casualties.
In the first battle of Ypres at Flanders in 1914 a platoon of Dogra Sikhs died fighting to the last man, who shot himself with his last cartridge rather than surrender.

After the bloody battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915 the Sikh regements had lost 80% of their men, 3 regements stood at only 16% of their original compliment.

Sikhs are not recgonized enough for their fearless and courageous contribution in both World Wars and in other wars.
For more information, you can visit for film footage and photos

There are also inspirational stories that I will be posting for month of November.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Domestic Abuse

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Domestic Violence is not something unheard of in Punjabi Culture.

In Feb 2009 (as you probably know), Rihanna (singer/mega-star) was brutally beaten by her boyfriend Chris Brown (also a singer/mega-star). There was a giant media uproar- and even a greater uproar when Rihanna went back to her abuser three weeks after the incident.

She became a stronger person though and dumped her abuser boyfriend, stating in an interview that it was because she wanted to be a good role model to the girls that looked up to her.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer (part of which I posted), she states " Don't react out of love, 'F' love" and tells other women who are victims of abuse to look at the situation from a third person perspective.

I posted this video today because domestic violence can affect anyone, no matter what culture you are from. Rihanna had the courage to get of a dangerous and potentially life-threatening relationship with her boyfriend, even though she loved him. I wish more Punjabi women in abusive relationships will look at their relationship from a third person perspective and realize that they deserve a better life than they are living.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Water Goddess

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

A young author from Prince George has published her first book called, "The Water Goddess". Jesmeen Kaur Deo, only twelve years old, has accomplished what many young authors wish they could do: actually finish the novels that they are working on. Her first novel is sold at amazon, barnes and noble and will be coming soon to Chapters. If you are looking for a perfect gift for your child this season, this book is perfect. Congratulations Jesmeen on your accomplishment!
Click here for the link to amazon

This is a short description of the plot.
Jeff and Whitney are the lifeguards at the pool (note: Jeff can't swim!). When the manager tells them they have invitations to go to a summer camp as supervisors, they're all for it. So they go, and become friends with one of the other supervisors, Mona, and between lessons with bratty kids, challenges involving untrained bears and eating fast food, they can't find any time for themselves. But Jeff and Mona do find time to follow Whitney, who takes trips into the forest at night of which Jeff and Mona can't seem to find the purpose of.
But when wolves invade the camp, Jeff, Mona and Whitney are randomly chosen to journey across the forest and river to the village in the valley for help. A journey that none of them will forget, when all is revealed. This fun kids' novel is full of ridiculous twists and turns that will get you laughing in no time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blood Drive

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Sikh Nation also holds a blood drive in the lower mainland, where they have helped save the lives of thousands of people.

"Blood Donation by Sikh Nation
To commemorate the memory of the victims of the November 1984 Sikh Massacre, the Sikh Nation started the campaign of blood donation in North America in November 1999. Along with our fellow Canadians, we invite you to join this campaign to save lives by donating blood.
Canadian Blood Services - CBS (Canadian federal organization) presented the Sikh Nation a "Top Donor" award for being the foremost in saving lives."

Here are the dates for all of the cities:

Surrey: 6830 King George Hwy
Fri, Nov 06 2009: 11:00am - 5:30pm
Sat, Nov 07 2009: 11:00am - 5:30pm

Fri, Nov 06 2009 1:45pm - 5:00pm

Prince George:
Sat, Nov 07 2009: 10:00am - 2:30pm

Vancouver: 4750 Oak Street
Sun Nov 08 2009: 10:00am - 6:00pm

Kelowna: 1865 Delworth Drive
Thu, Nov 12 2009: 12:00pm - 6:10pm

Kamloops: 1205 Rogers Way
Tue, Nov 17 2009: 12:00pm - 6:00pm

Abbotsford: 3145 Gladwin Road
Sat, Nov 21 2009: 11:00am - 5:00pm

Victoria: 3449 Saanich RoadSat,
Nov 21 2009: 10:00am - 4:30pm

Cloverdale: 17475 59 AveSun,
Nov 29 2009: 11:00am - 4:20pm

Calgary: 395 Fallshire Drive NE
Sat, Nov 07 2009: 08:30am - 2:30pm
Sat, Nov 21 2009: 08:00am - 2:30pm

25 years ago, in November 1984, more than 10 thousand Sikhs were hunted down all over India. They were burnt alive, the girls were gang raped then killed and the Sikh's properties worth billions of dollars was looted and destroyed. Since 1984, the successive Indian Governments have been fooling the people by setting up various commissions. The failure to punish the guilty indicates the complicity of the Government and its agencies in the "Sikh Massacre". Instead of prosecution, the perpetrators of this heinous crime were awarded with medals or rewarded with promotions. But on the contrary the Sikhs who voiced against the carnage were branded as terrorists and killed in fake encounters. The people who were clearly responsible for this carnage enjoyed political patronage and administrative positions. No one has been hanged or given suitable sentences for the genocide.
To commemorate the memory of the victims of the November 1984 Sikh Massacre, the Sikh Nation started the campaign of blood donation in North America in November 1999. Along with our fellow Canadians, we invite you to join this campaign to save lives by donating blood.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cool Science

Here is a cool science video from the Ellen Degeneres Show on her Halloween show.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Question

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

I have a new question, hopefully one that will generate more debate.

There is obviously a difference in style in the way that Punjabi parents raise their kids vs. mainstream culture. In an interview that I heard on Punjabi Omni news (I can't remember the woman's name; the interview got erased on my PVR), one woman mentioned the difference in the way that we introduce the world to children. She noticed that mainstream parents have a tendency to introduce the world in a restricted way; ie. they restrict the freedom of their children, whether it be by only allowing them to play in a playpen, by baby-locking all of the cupboards, or only allowing kids to eat certain vegetables in their early years. As they grow older, the amount of freedom given to kids, though, increases exponentially. By the time they are 13, kids are given the freedom to be with their friends until late hours of the day, with the parents often not knowing where they are or what they are doing.

Punjabi parents on the other hand, place less restriction on a child when they start walking and exploring the world. They usually don't baby-proof cupboards, or restrict them to certain toys. If the child wants to play with pots, or flour, or the broom, they usually let them and also let them play wherever they want (as long as it is safe). As the children get older though and enter their late teens, usually, parents want more control over their life; ie they want to know where they are going, what they are doing, who they are going with. And of course, ultimately, parents want to decide or have a say on who the child marries. But, by then, reasoning with the children, or "controlling" them can't be done.

The effects of the first method on late teenagers, to me, will probably make the child feel that their parents don't have an interest in their life anymore, or that they can get away with anything (If parents only knew what their children were doing with firecrackers on Halloween night!)

The second method would probably confuse the child. Here they were with so much freedom when they were young, and now all of a sudden parents want to place restrictions on them. It will seem unfair to the children as they get older.

So, obviously, there is an inverted way that each culture deals with enforcing restrictions or giving responsibility to their children. I know that this doesn't apply to everyone, and that each culture is continuously changing, but I have seen these trends in parents today.

So what are your comments? Do you agree with these observations?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is duality worse than ignorance?

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Now and again you meet people who are totally engrossed in parties, drug and alcohol, and spend most of their time trying to achieve the "high" that they get from these things. Most of the time these people are ignorant of the effect that these things are having to their body and soul, or just don't care because they can't see the bigger picture.

But then there are people who take part in actions that they know will harm them or others. They might be addicted to drugs and have tried to quit numerous times, but just couldn't. They may be people who try to do sadhana in the morning, but just can't seem to wake up. They may be people who know that chanting the name of Waheguru is the ultimate high, but opt out on other things. They may be people who know that bullying someone is wrong, but do nothing to stop it. These people live in a state of duality.

So the question is : Is duality worse than ignorance?

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gurdaddi Divas Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji


Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Sri Granth Sahib Ji, is more than just a scripture of the Sikhs. The Sikhs treat this Granth (holy book) as a living Guru. The holy text spans 1430 pages and contains the actual words spoken by the founders of the Sikh religion (the Ten Gurus of Sikhism) and the words of various other Saints from other religions including Hinduism and Islam.
Guru Granth Sahib was given the Guruship by the last of the living Sikh Masters, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. Guru Gobind Singh said before his demise that the Sikhs were to treat the Granth Sahib as their next Guru. Guru Ji said – “Sab Sikhan ko hokam hai Guru Manyo Granth” meaning “All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru” So today if asked, the Sikhs will tell you that they have a total of 11 Gurus. ( 10 in human form and the SGGS).
When one visits a Gurdwara (a Sikh temple) , the Guru Granth Sahib forms the main part of the Darbar Sahib or Main Hall. The holy book is placed on a dominant platform and covered in a very beautiful and attractively coloured fine cloth. The platform is always covered by a canopy, which is also decorated in expensive and very attractive coloured materials. The text in which the Granth is written is a script called Gurmukhi (literally "From the Guru's mouth"), which is considered a modern development of the ancient language called Sanskrit.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Diwali Means to Us

History Bhandi Chhor Divas
Courtesy of Manvir Singh Khalsa from his blog
The word "Bandi" means "imprisoned", "Chhor" means "release" and "Divas" means "day" and together "Bandi Chhor Divas" means Prisoners Release Day.

The Sikh celebration of the return of the sixth Nanak from detention in the Gwalior Fort coincides with Hindu festival of Diwali. This coincidence has resulted in similarity of celebration amongst Sikhs and Hindus.

When Murtaja Khan, Nawab of Lahore, noticed that Guru Ji had constructed Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, 'The Throne of the Almighty', at Amritsar, and was also strengthening his army, he informed about it to the Mughal Emperor Jahangeer. He also emphasized that he was making preparations to take revenge for his father's torture and martyrdom. When Jahangeer came to know about this he at once sent Wazir Khan and Guncha Beg to Amritsar in order to arrest Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.But Wazir Khan who was a well-wisher of the Sikh Guru’s requested the Guru to accompany them to Delhi as Emperor Jahangeer wanted to meet him. Guru Sahib accepted the invitation and reached Delhi.On their first meeting when Jahangeer saw the Guru, he was completely won over by his youthful charm and holiness. The Emperor decided to become friends with the Guru. So he gave a royal welcome to the Guru. But Chandu Shah could not bear it. His daughter was still unmarried and thus the rotten sore was still bleeding (that Guru Arjan Dev Ji refused the offer to marry his daughter to Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji).

At Agra, the Emperor fell seriously ill. The physicians tried their best but they failed to care him. Then Chandu Shah conspired with the astrologers, who were asked to tell the Emperor that his sickness was due to wrong track of stars and it could, be cared only if some holy man goes to Gwallior Fort to offer prayers to the deity. He also pointed out that Guru Hargobind Ji was such a holy man and he should be asked go to Gwallior Fort. At the Emperor’s request the Guru readily agreed and left for the Gawalior Fort.In the fort Guru Ji met many princes who were detained there due to political reasons. They were leading a very deplorable life. With the help of Hari Dass, the governor of fort, the Guru improved their condition. Hari Daas was a Sikh of Guru Nanak and he become ardent devotee of Guru Hargobind. Once when Chandu wrote to Hari Daas to poison Guru Sahib, he at once placed that letter before Guru Ji.When several months passed and Guru Ji was not released then Baba Buddha Ji and other devotees met the Guru. They informed him about the despicable condition of the Sikhs, who were waiting for him with great eagerness. The Guru assured them that they should not worry, he would join them soon. Sikhs would gather and carry out Parbaat-Pheris, walking and singing Gurbaani, around the Gawalior Fort awaiting for Guru Ji's arrival out.In the meantime Sai Mian Meer met Jahangeer and asked him to release the Guru. Jahangeer, who had fully recovered, ordered Wazir Khan to release Guru Sahib, who reached Gwallior Fort and informed Hari Daas about the message of the Emperor. Hari Daas was very pleased to hear it. He informed Guru Ji about the message of Emperor. But the Guru declined to leave the fort unless the princes confined in the fort were also released.When Wazir Khan informed the Emperor about the desire of the Guru, the Emperor was forced to agree, though he didn't want to free the prisoners. So, out of cleverly the Emperor put down the condition that "Whoever can hold on to the Guru's cloak can be released." The fifty–two princes who had been detained due to political reasons or for committing default, were pining in fort for years. Having compassion for others, Guru Sahib was determined to get the prisoners freed. He had a cloak made with 52 corners, for each King to hold on to. The Guru left the fort with all fifty-two princes. As the Guru liberated the fifty-two princes so he is known as Bandi-Chhor (Liberator).
A Gurdwara known as Bandi-Chhor is built at the place where Guru stayed during his detention. Jahangeer advised Wazir Khan to bring Guru Hargobind in his court at Delhi with great honour. Jahangeer had realised that he wrong for torturing and killing Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who had not committed no crime or offense. He wanted to exonerate himself by indicting this crime on Chandu Shah and other officers. So in order to show his innocence he wanted to meet Guru Hargobind Ji. The Sikhs celebrate this day as Bandi Chhorr Divas i.e., 'the day of release of detainees' . So in the evening, illuminations are done with Deewé (earthen oil lamps) or candles and fireworks. The celebrations are held both in the Gurdwaras and in homes.What do we learn from Bandi-Chhor Diwas?52 Hindu Kings were freed with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib could have left the Fort when he was offered the chance. However, Guru Ji thought of others before himself. Others freedom and rights were more important than his own. Guru Ji is always thinking not of his emancipation but everyone's emancipation. This is the attitude and virtue which Guru Ji filled within his Sikhs, by putting into reality this positive message.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Winner of Today's Woman Award Show

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

In an event held on Friday October 2, 2009, the winners of Today's Woman Award Show were announced at the Civic Centre.

"In October, Special Events Creators produces the annual Today's Woman Show. This event consists of the Northern British Columbia Today's Woman's Awards, the Today's Woman Leadership Conference and a biennial Trade Show that is geared towards women of all walks of life, ages, lifestyles and varied interests. It provides an opportunity to learn what's new in business, careers, investment opportunities, fashion, health & wellness, cooking, recreation and so much more. Each show just gets better and better!!"

COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT AWARD and RISING STAR AWARD: Navpreet Kaur Sidhu – Prince George. Through her volunteer work with the Canadian Diabetes Association, Navpreet has helped increase awareness of Diabetes among South Asians.

As an active young leader and role model to the youth in the community, she has promoted youth volunteerism by leading a team for the Partners For Life Program and Canadian Cancer Society Annual Relay.

The events hosts were MLA Shirley Bond and MLA Pat Bell. The Free Press sponsored the Community Enrichment Award, while CNC sponsored the Rising Stars Award.

Here are some pictures


Nowadays you need a backup drive for your backup drive! I was downloading all the TVs shows recorded on PVR to an external hard drive, when the hard drive crashed. I didn't really care much about what I lost (most were just tv shows), until I realized I lost a recording of the Chardi Kala Jatha in Harminder Sahib! I was going to upload it on this blog soon too:( Then I also realized that I lost all the English and Punjabi interviews I recorded on various social topics. Digital media can be so frustrating. You never know when it is going to vanish!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I once knew a Bobjeet

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

I have been going to university for about four years now, and I have met so many different kinds of people. During a summer course, I came across a certain young gentleman... let's call him Bobjeet, who was from one of the smaller cities, either Dawson's Creek, William's Lake, I can't really remember. Now, 70% of communication is non-verbal communication, so when I say I know this person, I mean that I know this person's behaviour, attitude and opinions from observing him afar in class or walking in the hallways. You can learn a lot about a person from how they walk, sit idly or conduct themselves in public.

Bobjeet was keen on learning, he asked question after question to the professor, anticipating responses and purposing rebuttals. He was curious about every aspect of the study he was undertaking... or he used be. He wasn't amritdhari, but he was a "pure" Punjabi, and looking at how he conducted himself, he was a Sikh. I had one chance to talk to him during a break in the class, just common chit-chat on the the midterm that we just finished writing. Once he found out I spoke Punjabi he conducted the rest of the conversation quite fluently in it. Quite amazing since most people are embarrassed to even admit that they know Punjabi! Looking at his timid nature, you could tell that he was respectful and courteous. But, I said "timid" for a reason.... and not self-confident.

Now your thinking, wouldn't it be great if this young man became something great in his life. Bobjeet could help our Punjabi people gain access to basic services, such as health care, computer technology, bank services and more. He would be such a great asset to the community, with his genuine respect and courtesy. But, we will never know for sure.

Now before I go any further, let's explain my role in all of this. During the unfolding of the events you are about to hear, I luckily stumbled upon the role of silent observer... sort of like invisible entity that no one really cared to notice. I knew Bobjeet and his disposition and demeanor from my class. I also inadvertently knew his "new" friends from UNBC from a volunteer job that I undertook every week. You can probably guess the demeanor of his new friends. These people knew neither their culture or their language. Let loose in Prince George with more money than they need, this group of about three frequently got drunk and "partied" during the weekends, and aspired to be doctors during the weekdays. "Partied" is a mild term. What they did was get intoxicated to the point that they probably couldn't recognize their own sister if they saw her.

One evening, as we were volunteering together, the group was side-tracked as usual and started chatting. Again, people don't usually notice me when they start talking. As they were chatting away, instead of working, Bobjeet's name came up in the conversation. Here is a brief dialogue of what ensued.
" Bobjeet, yeah man, we definitely have to get him drunk"
"Man, Can you believe he has never had a drink before. What, is he a Mama's boy"
(Girl interjects) " C'mon, Bobjeet's nice, you better not convert him"
"Yeah, but he's not cool. No, we are definitely taking him to a pub tonight and getting him hammered".

Now I wasn't there for the actual incident, and during the entire time I never thought that Bobjeet would ever go through something as stupid as that. But like I said, I used the word "timid" instead of "self-confident'
A week passed in class, and I was busy with midterm and exams. The next time I noticed Bobjeet was outside of class, with a newly pierced ear and listening to loud rap music on his iphone. No more questions, no more Punjabi, no more curiosity to learn, no more intellectual behaviour. You may see him occasionally at UNBC hanging out with his girlfriend or smoking a cigarette. He's still here, his friends aren't. None of them got into medical school, thank god, and I suppose they moved back to their respective home towns.

I never knew that this could actually happen to people. I mean you see it in cheesy Punjabi movies and dramas, but now that I look back at the experience, I never really realized the seriousness. I wish I could have been more than I silent observer, but really how could I interfere in the life of a person that I didn't know. Of course, there is always the fear of being branded a whistleblower among peers.

Now you can imagine that everyone in a small town knows everyone, hence there is less chance of youth to get involved in drugs and alcohol, but also more chance that youth lack self-confidence when they move to bigger cities. No parent is going to tell themselves 'I am sending my child away to university so that they can get involved in gangs and drugs". Every parent is anxious when they send their child away for school, but Punjabi parents are more so. And they have a good reason. So many Indo-Canadian Sikh youth come to Prince George from smaller towns to study UNBC. So many anxious parents await in the small towns hoping that their kids are going to pass the tests and challenges of life brought in front of them by their peers.

I am astounded by the fact that Prince George doesn't have counseling and support services specifically designated toward Sikh youth. Really what is a gurudwara supposed to be for. It is supposed to be the centre where people come to find spiritual guidance and support. To date, no Prince George temple has provided formal counseling services to anyone, with full protection of a person's confidentiality. In the future, it would be nice to see community leaders that have been through the same ordeal to step in and provide comfort to parents by mentoring the youth. When youth come to UNBC from smaller communities the gurdwara should act kind of like a check-in, where Prince George community leaders and volunteers give an orientation to Prince George and the spiritual services provided to assist youth in their life and studies (programs which we need more of.. but that will be a different blog post). Out-of-townees get to know each other and Prince Georgians and kind of form a community. Throughout the year, volunteers check in with various students and provide guidance, mentoring and counselling services if needed. Most importantly if the counsellor can't help them, than they should contact the parents and relatives to step in and provide support.

Now, you may think, isn't this over the top. I mean aren't we controlling the lives of these young people. When I talk about guidance and counseling, I don't mean that preachers should follow the youth around and make sure that they don't cut their hair, or make sure that they do their 5 banis paath everyday; these choices are ultimately left to the youth to decide. What I mean is that relatable people, like university professors, fellow grad students, medical students, doctors should be there to help Sikh youth deal with the stresses and peer pressure encountered in university life, instead of turning to alcohol and drugs. Sikh Youth have different needs than the average university students, because they feel different societal pressures. Normal guidance counseling at universities aren't enough to address the specialized issues that Indo-Canadian youth are facing, and this drives youth into gangs, drugs and alcohol. No young person is going to look back in their life and say " I wish I would have done drugs in school, I missed out on so much." Similarly a person who did drugs, probably never imagined themselves in that position a few years ago.

Now the second problem that comes to mind is community gossip. You would think young people would be off limits, but know the "aunties" are as vicious to us as they are to anyone else, more-so behind your back. No wonder youth don't just come out and ask for help and admit that they have a problem. Deep down they don't want their parents or themselves to suffer public humiliation.

I can't imagine the looks of Bobjeet's parents when he stepped into their home again. I still can't believe the transformation to this day, sometimes I wonder if this alter ego thing really existed or if it was just my imagination.

Anyways, that is my story for today, and obviously the names were changed to protect the persons' identity. If anyone has any comments, please feel free to leave them at the bottom.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Amusing Video

Amusing video on Punjabi Body Language- first posted by Maple Leaf Sikh

I can definitely pick out some gestures that I see often:)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sikhnet Film

Waheguru ji Ka khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

You didn't think we would make a film did you? Well we did! It wasn't as ambitious of a project as I usually undertake, but still it is better than nothing, and I loved the idea. I got the inspiration during Sukhmani Sahib, and just thinking if I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret... what would I have changed in my life.

The original idea was to do a documentary on the society and the challenges and accomplisments we faced, but summer was too short for such a big project, with all the work I had to do, so this did just fine in satisfying my creative abilities.

For more Sikhnet Film Festival movies, visit Sikhnet.

My Guru and I

By rsingh

If you walked into this Gurdwara and instead of the Guru Granth Sahib being there, say it was Guru Nanak, or Guru Amar Das or Gur Tegh Bahadur, sitting there – how would you act? How would you carry yourself when walking in? Would your mind-set be any different? Would your muthha tek take on a different meaning? Would you be more attentive and alert during the divan? Would you be more eager to listen to his words and try harder to understand him?

Guru Ram Das says:Baani Guru Guru Hai Baani Vich Baani Amrit SaareyBani is the Guru and Guru is the Bani. And it’s within this Bani, that Amrit is found. Thus, the Shabad (”The Word”) is, was and always will be the Guru. History tells us that even during Guru Arjan’s time, the Granth (then referred to as the Pothi Sahib because it was yet to be completed and anointed Guru), was the center of the congregation, the center of the Darbar, even in the presence of Guru Arjan himself.

The saakhis tell us that Guru Arjan had so much reverence for the Pothi Sahib that he kept it on an pedestal elevated even from himself, and joined the Sikhs in paying obeisance to it. This tells me that it is not the person, the attire or the physical attributes that make the Guru; instead, it is the Shabad. But we call the ten physical forms (from Nanak to Gobind Singh) Guru because they were the living manifestation of that Shabad.

They lived the Shabad. We sing it, they lived it.Guru Nanak was so immersed in the Shabad that the two became one.He says in Raag Ramkalee:Shabad Guru Bhavsaagar Tariye Ith Uth Eko JaanaiShabad is the Guru that will ferry you across the terrifying world-ocean.So, if this is the case, how can the Guru Granth Sahib we bow before, be any different than Guru Angad or Guru Amar Das sitting before us?We refer to the Guru Granth Sahib as the living Guru. But is it really living to me?Some say we have it harder, because we don’t have a physical Guru simply telling us what to do, particularly since, in Sikhi, we don’t believe in “holy” persons being the official “interpreters” of scripture. Thus, it falls upon us to make the effort to listen to, read, and apply the lessons to our lives.

People often asked, “What does the Guru Granth Sahib say about this or that?” About life after death, about good and evil, about socio-political issues, such as abortion, divorce, climate change, etc., and the children are often disappointed when I can’t point them to a direct quote – a simple “Thou shalt …” – to answer their question.To some, this is frustrating; but I find it … beautiful!The Guru refrains from giving commandments or a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead, He has compiled 1430 pages of divine poetry that provides a structure for our life and a personal map to guide us through our daily choices and challenges. Instead of quick and fast answers , the Guru has trusted and empowered his Sikhs, to reflect, discuss and interpret the Word [within basic parameters] and form our own opinions and make ethical decisions accordingly … for anything and everything.

So, is the Guru living?I can go through life and treat the Guru Granth as a mere idol and bow before it out of empty ritualism, or I can take the time to reflect on Gurbani – to think, reason, understand and genuinely act on the Guru’s teachings … and that is when the Guru comes alive.As a Sikh, do I need the Guru in my life? This is where Gurbani is as very clear…black and white:Anand Anand Sabh Ko Kahai Anand Guru Tay JaniaBliss! bliss! Everyone talks of bliss! Bliss is but known only through the Guru.Then he goes on to say:Jai Ko Gur Tay Vaymukh Hovai Bin Satgur Mukhat Na PaavaiOne who turns away from the Guru and becomes “baymukh” – without the True Guru – shall not find liberation.

The role of the Guru is to enlighten and bring us to a heightened sense of awareness, to establish that connection with the Divine. The forces of kaam, krodh, lobh, moh and ahankaar – lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride – are so strong that it is only through the Guru that we can overcome them.Throughout this festive year, there have been many celebrations, kirtan darbars, nagar kirtans, conferences and seminars and symposia, discussions and debates on all aspects of the Guru Granth to mark this special milestone – but I truly hope that we, even if we are small and isolated communities, take this opportunity to develop and strengthen our personal relationship with the Guru. I believe this one-on-one conversation, this spiritual dialogue with the Guru, is essential in our self-discovery – which is fundamental to being a Sikh.On this very early stage of my journey with the Guru, I have learned that all roads on this path lead to within. As the Guru says:Mun Tu Joth Saroop Hai Apna Mool PaichanO my mind, you are the embodiment of this Divine Light – recognize it, O, recognize your own origin … the true origin of thy self.

I have been the beneficiary of a lot of advice and guidance in my life, but one of the most meaningful things has been what a friend once said to me: “You know, many think the Guru Granth Sahib’s 1430 pages are about the Guru’s lives and teaching … but, in reality, it’s about you.” And I believe this. There is not a Shabad I come across where the Guru is not challenging me, where the Guru doesn’t push me to question myself.

I often stop in my tracks while reading Baani and ask: Is he referring to me? Am I one of those ego-filled beings that he is talking about, that is, obsessed with myself and my own thinking? Am I being humble in my actions, am I truly forgiving to those who have hurt me, do I speak lovingly to others? Am I really walking the walk … or am I just talking the talk?This is my dialogue with the Guru, and with my Ardaas and his Grace, I continue to strive to improve myself every time I stand before him.So I hope this year will not end as just a celebration of a historical event, but instead, be the motivation for a spiritual event – for personal change, within me, within each of us … that brings us closer to the Guru.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The psycological glass ceiling

News article from

I did a media-training session with a couple of colleagues a few weeks back, to hone our on-camera skills. There were seven of us—four men, three women—and each of us was interviewed, then critiqued, on a giant flat-screen television overhead. I spoke about a story I'd spent months working on, and gave what I thought was a confident interview. So did my other female colleagues.
But when we watched ourselves on the big screen, our apprehension became embarrassingly clear—especially in comparison to our male counterparts. The trainer described me as "sing-songy," my voice inflecting up, time and again, turning my statements into questions. We used self-defeating words like "sort of," and started our sentences with "I'm not sure, but"—doubting our opinions before we even expressed them. The irony, of course, is that we're accomplished journalists; we knew these topics well. So why did we sound so unsure of ourselves?
It was mortifying to watch myself apologize to the camera, but the consequence of that insecurity isn't just bad media. According to a new book about female self-esteem, being cautious and apologetic impacts just about every standard measure of success in the workplace: money, accomplishment, recognition. In The Curse of the Good Girl, author Rachel Simmons argues that women pressure themselves to fit the mold of modest, selfless, rule-following "good girl" for fear of being labeled a "bitch." But it's those bitchlike qualities that help us get ahead—which means we're left with imbalanced salaries, lower titles, and shorter professional trajectories. "In many ways the zeitgeist is that girls are excelling and boys are having trouble," says Simmons. "But it all depends on what you're measuring."
It's easy to look at today's women and think we've come a long way. On one hand, we've reaped the benefits our feminist mothers fought for, and we're encouraged, time and again, to "be whatever we want to be." We outnumber boys in graduation rates, college enrollment, and school leadership positions, and have proven ourselves professionally. Things look promising; to the point that even a beauty queen can climb on stage and declare "there are no longer any barriers against us," as did the winner of Miss Universe this month. (Though apparently she doesn't see the irony of announcing this while being judged and rated on her appearance and poise.)
But all those ribbons and medals don't translate to the real world if women are too afraid to ask for what they deserve. As Simmons puts it, "Girls collect achievements by the handful, but often don't have the confidence to own them." Sure, we may outpace the guys around us in school, but by the time we enter college, we'll have given up our leadership roles. We'll make up just a third of business-school students and barely a quarter of law-firm partners. We invalidate ourselves through speech, body language, and weak handshakes. And we still earn less—77 cents to every dollar—and ask for raises less frequently. "If you look at girls on paper, they're terrific," says Simmons, who runs a leadership institute for girls and has also written on female aggression. "But get them into a job interview or negotiating a raise, and it's another story."
Part of that comes from a lifetime of mixed messages about what it means to be strong. We've grown up watching the Hillary Clintons of the world vilified for being pushy, while our soft-spoken colleagues struggle to rise up the corporate ladder. Society, pop culture and the media all encourage us to be tough but sexy in the process. In a way, we're hybrids of the 1950s woman, who was forced to conform, the 1970s woman who refused to, with a bit of 21st-century porn culture thrown in. We live with outdated expectations about what's acceptable, while pressuring ourselves to achieve it all.
As Simmons describes it, it's a "yes, but" mentality: yes, be a go-getter, but be nice all the time. Yes, accomplish, but don't brag about it. "It is a constant qualification—two steps forward, one step back," she says. "And just as an anorexic might say, 'I shouldn't eat this, it will make me fat,' girls are saying to themselves, 'I shouldn't say this, it will make me a bitch, a drama queen, an outcast.' "
Nowhere is that qualification clearer than in the words of a bunch of middle-school girls, whom Simmons surveyed. Asked to write down how society expects a "good girl" to behave, their responses ranged from "perfect" and "kind," "intelligent" with "tons of friends" to "no opinions on things" and "doesn't get mad." A bad girl, on the other hand, was described as a "proud" "rule breaker" who "speaks her mind" and likes being the "center of attention." Or, to put it simply, all of the things that make somebody a good leader.
How do we reconcile those two extremes? Perhaps by shifting some of the blame onto ourselves. Time and again, studies have shown that girls face pressures that are unique. We feel burdened to please everyone (as reported by 74 percent of girls in a 2006 Girls Inc. study) but worry that leadership positions will make us seem "bossy," (according to a recent Girl Scouts report.) Yet we've been mulling about the loss of girls' self-esteem since the '90s, when Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia became standard reading for every mother.
It seems that while the doors of opportunity have finally opened, we're still having trouble walking through them. "We've created what I call a 'psychological glass ceiling'," says Simmons. "But on some level, we need to say to ourselves, 'Yes, I have the same piece of paper from the same university, but why aren't I walking through the law firm door?'" We've come along way, ladies. But we've still got a lot further to go.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

School is near...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Wow! School is almost here, although it seems that the summer weather is going to last a little bit longer.
Punjabi classes are also coming up, whether informal or formal ones at school. I thought for this blog I will give you a couple of reasons on why we should learn Punjabi.

1. Learning the language of a culture will help you experience the culture more effectively.
-learning Punjabi will help us experience our rich culture and heritage more fully. If you don't know what a charkha or manja is, then how can you get a full understanding of the culture in Punjab, the place where most of our parents grew up.

2. Learning two or more languages can help you express yourself better
-Anyone who has learned another language can agree that there are certain words and phrases that can't be translated into English, but it seems like we can't fully express ourselves without them. There has been multiple times when my sister and I communicate in half Punjabi/half English, just to get our feelings across better. For example, there doesn't seem to be an equivalent word for the word "nazar" in Punjabi. The same goes for the word "taran", the kind of knot/sensation one gets in the upper stomach. English doctors don't even know that "taran" exists!

3. Learning Punjabi can help us understand Gurbani
-There is "superficial" Punjabi, as I like to call it, which is more conversational, and then there is "deep" Punjabi. To be able to communicate in "deep" Punjabi, one has to have a greater vocabulary and be able to properly use the words. Deep Punjabi enables us to not only carry out meaningful conversations with others in relation to religion, politics, literature etc. but it also helps us to understand the vast amounts of ancient literature available. For example, an adequate knowledge of Punjabi can help us understand Sri Guru Granth Sahib, even though Punjabi isn't the only language in the Guru. So far I haven't found an adequate English translation, because I feel that some of the phrases are "lost in translation" and lose there meaning. That is not to say that people shouldn't read English translations, but if you have a chance to learn Punjabi, then take the opportunity! It will make your studies of gurbani easier. I am not going to lie, without Gurbani, we wouldn't be Sikhs, so it is important not only read and understand, but also to apply Gurbani teachings to your everyday life (but that it going to be another blog post).

4. It would be easier to communicate with grandparents or relatives that don't know English.
- Did you know that our grandparents have a first hand experience of the rich history of India. They were lived through the British Rule, Independence, the Partition and many more events. If you know Punjabi you can get a first hand account of all those experiences.

5. Learning a new language is fun!

So that's it. The main five reasons you should learn Punjabi. If anyone has more, please tell us in the comments:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Mr.Sikhnet

Yesterday evening I had the kids with me while my wife worked late, and for some reason my daughter Charanjeet was having "one of those days" and was crying incessantly about everything. It was like a marathon (with a few pit stops). It can be SOO intense when your children cry and "freak out." Lots of the times it is them trying to assert themselves, or get what they want. It’s as if they are experimenting with their ego and learning how to use it. As a parent this can be really challenging sometimes! The crying and screaming has a very strong effect on parents. Those of you who have kids will understand what I mean by this. It takes quite a bit of discipline and calmness to deal with your children in a neutral way without bending to their will, or having a meltdown during one of these "storms". They can be like tornadoes trying to suck you up to make you do what they want.

This morning as I was thinking about this it made me also think about the many Sikhs that I deal with online who are very critical, judgmental and REACTIVE. Whenever something happens some people just lash out at others. Some perceived disrespect is done… and there seem to always be people who are ready with the pitchforks… ready to burn someone at the stake. It feels like such an old primal reactive nature (like the violence in Delhi in 1984), fueled by hate, and inner anger.

It’s as if these things are done to make the person feel better and give them "power" when they feel empty inside. Why is it some people’s habitual reaction to divide and attack? There are lots of things that I don’t agree with that other people believe, but I don’t go out of my way to tell them "what I think" and how "my way" is the correct way.

I think that actually, people see a mirror of what is already inside of them projected out onto others. When we hate, we see hate.

I still don’t get why so many Sikh are so close-minded. Our Gurus taught that there is only One God and many paths, yet when someone does something "wrong" people react and kick them out. It’s no wonder so many of the youth don’t want to be Sikhs! There seems to be so little compassion and understanding. It’s "my way or the highway". "You either follow what I believe or you are wrong!".

Being a parent with kids, and just dealing with negativity and the reactive natures of some people has really allowed me to grow. Every time someone posts a negative comment judging or criticizing me, it challenges me. Initially when this happens I feel that gut wrenching feeling in my stomach/naval as I emotionally want to protect myself. The next thing is the feeling of wanting to react to them; as if they are trying to suck my energy and draw me into theirs. This is the challenging part of being non-reactive and not letting these things effect me.

When I was thinking about all of this I tried to imagine what the Gurus were like and how they would act. I can’t imagine one of the Gurus reacting in anger or pretty much any strong emotion that is reactive in nature. I imagine them still like a pond, not affected by whatever storm may blow by and by whatever people say. With anger coming at them they might smile back and share some inspirational words about God.

I personally strive to reach this type of stillness in my life, where no matter what people say or do, I am not affected by it. This takes a certain meditative mind and awareness to achieve. As Sikhs we are are learners and are, by definition, always be open to learning. It is when we become rigid in our thinking and actions that our "window" becomes smaller, and we limit our own opportunities for learning and personal growth.

My prayer today is that we all can keep our hearts open and see the God in each other, no matter what the perceived differences are. To love each other and treat one another with KINDNESS and compassion and not jump on people and criticize them because of something we feel is wrong or different than what we believe.

We as a planet of beings will never unite together until we learn to look beyond our differences and see that we are all one and that we are each a piece of the larger "Body". I am you and you are me. I look at you and see me. Love, compassion, acceptance, understanding, unity and forgiveness; these are all things that support the greater good, while the other negative things only bring us all down. Daya is the first quality of Khalsa. How do you recognize Khalsa? By kindness. That is the hallmark of the Gurus own.