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:)