60 Vancouver Area Writers/Artists Sign Support Letter for Indian Authors


Writers, artists, performers, filmmakers, academics and activists of Vancouver Lower Mainland have added their names to support the heroic action of our Indian peers in their struggle against the regime-encouraged intolerance of Indian society.

‘We, the writers and artists of Vancouver Lower Mainland, fully support the protesting Indian authors, artists, actors and filmmakers who have returned their awards and those who have resigned from their posts to protest the Indian establishment’s inaction over the cold-blooded murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and in August, of Prof Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi. The protest also marks the general escalation of intolerance in Indian society projected in the recent Dadri incident where an alleged ‘beef-eater’ was lynched by a mob.

‘We urge the Government of India and its literary establishments to listen to protesting authors and artists and to take required action to create a tolerant society that is able to protect freedom of expression and the human rights of all its citizens.’

Signed by the following 61 authors, artists, filmmakers, performers, academics and activists:

Joanne Arnott
Jarnail Artist
Chinmoy Banerjee
Krishan Bhanot
Ajay Bhardwaj
Sadhu Binning
Edward Blodgett
Aadil Brar
Nachhattar Brar
Harinder Kaur Dhahan
Iinderjeet Dhami
Barjinder K. Dhillon
Sukhjeet K. Dhillon
Jagdev S. Dhillon
kc dyer
Janet Fretter
Nirmal K. Gill
Sonja Grgar
Christine Grimard
Patricia Gruben
Pasi Gunguwo
Alan Hill
Sukhwant Hundal
Mahtab Janjua
Sana Janjua
Nirmaljit K. Johel
Ranbir Johal
Surjeet Kalsey
Avtar Kaur
Sushil Kaur
Shahzad Nazir Khan
Ranbir Khana
Rupinder Rupi Khera
Amarjit K. Manget
Amrit K. Mann
Jasbir K. Mann
Darshan S. Mann
Kyle McKillop
Anne Murphy
Haider Nizamani
Nadeem Parmar
Summer Pervez
Randeep Purewall
Fauzia Rafique
Jeewan S. Rampuri
Ajmer Rode
Surinder K. Sahota
Jagjit Sandhu
Joginder S. Shamsher
Jarnail Sekha
Bakhshinder Singh
Neena Singh
Bonnie Quan Symons
Gurcharan Talewalia
Ashley Tombu
Raghavendra Rao K.V.
Rc Weslowski
Rita Wong
Julian Worker
Mariam Zohra

This support letter will be sent to protesting authors, and to the government of India and it’s literary agencies.

Signatories include individual members of New West Writers, Punjabi Lekhak Manch, Purple Poppy Press, South Asia Film Education Society, Surrey International Writers Conference, Surrey Muse, Uddari Weblog, and more.

Photo from Boiaka Bo Bally

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Surrey Muse and Uddari Weblog thank everyone for participating in this signature campaign.

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Add Your Name to Support India’s Protesting Authors & Artists


Inviting Vancouver Lower Mainland writers, artists, performers, publishers, filmmakers, art organizers, academics and activists.

Originally posted on Surrey Muse:

sahitya-akademi-protestIndia’s writers and artists hold a silent protest march in Delhi, October 2015 (NDTV Photo)

Surrey Muse and Uddari Weblog invite writers, artists, performers, publishers, filmmakers, art organizers and literary activists of Vancouver Lower Mainland to add their names to the list of local artists who have decided to support the heroic action of our Indian peers in their struggle against the regime-encouraged growing intolerance of Indian society.

Letter of support
‘We, the writers and artists of Vancouver Lower Mainland, fully support the protesting Indian authors, artists, actors and filmmakers who have returned their awards and those who have resigned from their posts to protest the Indian establishment’s inaction over the cold-blooded murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and in August, of Prof Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi. The protest also marks the general escalation of intolerance in Indian society projected in the recent Dadri incident where an alleged…

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Published in: on November 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

‘The Lustre Of Dollars On The Sarbat Khalsa’ by Daljit Ami


The North American Sikh Summit took place at Yuba City, California, on October 31 this year. The summit organisers claimed that, in their deliberations on the current Sikh crises in Punjab, they had the support of a hundred Gurdwaras and Sikh organizations. The summit passed three resolutions. On the same date, in England, the Federation of Sikh Organizations conducted the World Sikh Summit at Birmingham and claimed that Sikhs from over twenty nations had participated and passed eight resolutions. The two summits might not be directly related to each other but the resolutions they both passed form a complex relationship. The current crises in Punjab – the general pardon of the Dera Sacha Sauda Head and its revocation, the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, the matter of the Five Chosen Ones, and the Behbal Kalan police firing in which two young men died – are being presented as the express reason for the two summits but reports in the media reveal that these are mere immediate provocations.

Though the two resolutions have by-passed a few contentious terms, the intent of the resolutions is clear – they are linked to the Gurdwara management and the religious activities of the Sikhs. By including points on Akal Takht’s decorum as sanctioned by the Sikh Gurus, the behaviour of the leaders – Jathedars – as per their status, and the plenary religious congregation – Sarbat Khalsa, the North American and Europe Sikhs make a strong pitch for their own greater participation in the religious affairs of the Sikh community. Given how the chief players in Punjab have wrecked havoc with the institutions there is no doubt that the Sikh politics, Shiromani Akali Dal – Badal and even others, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee need to be reformed. This article attempts to analyze how much say the diaspora voice should have in the matters and what are the consequences of surrendering control to only these voices.

The Yuba City resolution seeks to re-establish the Akal Takht to its pristine Sikh Guru sanctioned status beyond the interference of political and ruling party machinations. It seeks to listen to the voice of thirty million Sikhs by ushering in transparency and accountability to the selection and function of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht. Alongside, it seeks to restore the status of the Five Chosen Ones – Panj Piyare. The second point is on supporting the Khalsa plenary – Sarbat Khalsa – on November 10. The resolution states that it represents the North American Sikhs and gives the community the right to finalize the Jathedar of the Akal Takht by Baisakhi 2016. It calls for the next Sarbat Khalsa before April 2016 and requests all factions, irrespective of ideological and other differences, to participate on the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. The third point exhorts the Sikhs of North America to strengthen their voice and calls for nominating two persons per Gurdwara or organization to the committee to attend the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. It seeks representation of local views, without discriminations and with equality, into shaping its agenda by April 2016.

The Birmingham resolution seeks a free and prosperous Sikh rule. The second point calls for a revocation of Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal honorific title Pride of the Nation to Traitor of the Nation and removal of the name Singh from the names of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Avtar Singh Makkad, the current head of the SGPC. It is symbolic of them they no longer being Sikhs for they have betrayed the Sikh community. The third point calls for a social boycott of the leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the SGPC and calls for their resignations and sacking of the heads of the five Takhts. The fourth point calls for the Sikhs to unite and create their own parliament and bank. The fifth point calls for consensus candidates from the Sikh community to be elected the Jathedars of the five Takhts. The point contests the hegemony of the SGPC and their being considered the representatives of the Sikh Gurdwaras. It states that SGPC’s jurisdiction is confined to historial Gurudwaras of Punjab and a few other states of India so diaspora Sikhs are not under it.The sixth point strongly emphasises that the Sarbat Khalsa be called for in Punjab with the express consent of all Sikh organizations and leaders. The seventh point is for action against police personnel who fired on the peaceful demonstrators protesting the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. The last point is a call for the 30th anniversary of the Sarbat Khalsa conducted on April 29, 1986 in which the Sikh Self-Rule was announced.

Even if we ignore the internal contradictions between these resolutions, we need to ask whether these North America and England resolutions are to be implemented in Punjab. The two resolutions force the Sikh political leaders in Punjab to disclose if they are beholden to these the political aspirations of the Sikhs in North America and Europe or sovereignity has a meaning for them? These two summits seem to represent the political beliefs and understanding of the affluent Sikhs in those parts of the world. That makes it incumbent upon us to ask if these resolutions reflect the arrogant shine the dollars.Have we now come to such an impasse that Punjab’s issues can only be resolved by expatriate communities or does our own humble effort mean something?

When everything in today’s politics is evaluated with reference of intelligence agencies then why should the dollar politics not be subjected to such scrutiny? Who can study the behaviour of migrant communities and their political aspirations? Isn’t it ironical that most migration studies are conducted themselves by the migrant communities – a south Indian in America or a south Asian or European scholar? Most of these studies are about the emotional aspect of migration. It is only when we study how potential migrants – to America, Europe and Australia – compromise their ethical, religious, social and humanistic values that we shall understand the layers of hatred concealed by the pride that such communities project outwards. Also note that the American and European nation’s government has allowed their citizens to speak against their native lands and that draws the migrants to these countries. These migrants support their foreign policies, actively. The Sikh diaspora communities settled in NATO countries has supported the NATO attacks on different countries.The powerful North American Sikh community tries hard to showcase itself as the ideal of American values. If this community seeks to create a separate identity for itself from the Muslims, it also participates in the anti-Islam discourse of its adopted country.

The migrant Sikhs keep their contacts with Punjab’s organisations and religious-political wheeler-dealers but their own loyalties lie with their adopted countries. On the Canadian-American border, a religious person was caught smuggling drugs inside the Holy Book. When the sacrilege issues from Punjab reaches the expatriate Sikhs they burst out in anger.Why didn’t they feel a similar anger when the Guru Granth Sahib is insulted in their adopted countries? Has there been any protest about that in North America? On top of that, the tone in which they sermonise Punjab imitates the way their adopted nations instruct the world through armed invasions and dole out lessons on tackling corruption and install dictatorial regimes. It might help us to remember that before invading Afghanistan the United States had rained leaflets filled with messages of the Holy Quran.

No doubt the Punjabi expatriates feel about Punjab but that does not mean they become automatically the well wishers of Punjab. Even if they don the garb of Punjab’s issues, we need to ask how their arrogance can improve Punjab. No doubt it is difficult to ask these questions to our friends and relatives, the questions can even cause us momentary pain, but Punjab will have to ask these tough questions. Not that these questions reduce the culpability of the Punjab politicians and organizations, in fact they enhance the responsibility of Punjab’s betterment on its inhabitants. After all, if Punjab has to walk straight it has to bear the brunt of its autumnal sun on its back; it has to drink the water of its own hand pumps. Will the shower of dollars on the martyrs of Behbal Kalan allow the Sikhs to re-connect with their own Gurus? Can the dream of self reliant sovereign Punjab as expressed in folklore with reference of Dulla Bhatti – ‘first demolish Delhi’s seat of power’ and ‘then Lahore’s throne’ – be realised in the lustre of dollars?It is a matter of autonomy and not hiding in the shadow of the diaspora. For, finally the answers to Punjab’s crises will have to come from Punjab’s land.

Translated from Punjabi by Amandeep Sandhu

Reprinted with thanks from: Countercurrents.org
07 November, 2015

Daljit Ami
Daljit is an independent filmmaker from Punjab who has made over a dozen documentary films on different issues. He worked as freelance journalist with Punjabi Tribune, Day and Night News and BBC Hindi. His most recent work is translation of Amandeep Sandhu’s novel ‘Roll of Honour’ from English to Punjabi as ‘Gwah De Fanah Hon Toh Pehilan’.

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Asma Jahangir: A Great (Punjabi) Woman

I had to face imprisonment and house arrests, but it made me tougher. As a lawyer, many a time I took up difficult and sensitive cases dealing with minorities’ and women’s rights. Yes, I constantly receive threats, and to be very honest, at times it is very scary. But I have to continue my work.’

Asma Jahangir is a lawyer (to say the least) defending the rights of women, children and men in Pakistan’s harsh climate of religious extremism, misogyny and child abuse. She does it in the courtroom, on the street, in the media, and on the international scene.

Since 1972, when she launched a case against the Government of the Punjab for the release of her father Malik Ghulam Jilani who was arrested for resigning from the National Assembly to protest the Pakistan Government’s military action in Bangladesh, Asma has been an honorable and courageous leader of Pakistan’s political, legal and social movements. She was one of the leaders of the long and often dangerous campaign waged by women activists against the Hadood Ordinances and the draft law on evidence; She forced the parliament to pass a legislation in favor of bonded child laborers of brick kilns. She is a founding/serving member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Women Action Forum (WAF), Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA), and of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell that offers free legal services to vulnerable population groups.

In 2010, Asma was elected as the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She is a former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and a UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions from 1998 to 2004, and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief from 2004 to 2010.

She is the author of Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance (1988) and Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan (1992). She has received numerous international and national awards including honorary Doctor of Law degrees from universities in Switzerland, Canada, and the USA; the Right Livelihood Award or the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ in 2014; American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award in 1992; the Martin Ennals Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995.

Asma was placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of democracy against the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1983. She, and her family, has often been a target of vandalism, violent attacks, hate campaigns and character assassinations carried out by militant groups, political interests and their media representatives. Un-deterred, she continues to be a force to reckon with for each successive government, and for the interest groups who violate the rights of people.

More on Asma is here

Contact Asma Jahangir

View the above on its page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin

Years of unceasing democratic work against armed and unarmed adversaries, and in over four decades of active politics, Asma has refused to serve the interests of any colonial, hegemonic or familial power. At all times, she has taken a firm stand on the side of the people, often being victimized, and she has gone onto extend protection to them wherever and whenever possible. The local and international power brokers have introduced their own heroes who come backed with enormous resources and a wide international network of organizations, forums and media outlets. As is the nature of colonizing mind, they make it appear as if Pakistani women had no history of resistance prior to their presentation of it.

May be all this money, resources and influence will for some time sideline our real heroes such as Asma Jahangir, Hina Jillani, Hussain Naqi, Abdur Sattar Edhi and others. But sooner or later we will see through these schemes, and we will be able to acknowledge the ceaseless contributions to the betterment of our lives of our heroes like Asma Jahangir, and we will find deserving ways to nurture and honor them.

Fauzia Rafique

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‘Hawawaan de Sanjh – ہواواں دی سانجھ’ by Harinder Kaur Dhahan


Vancouver diye seetlay hwa, toon Lhore val ve ja
apni nighhi nami, khushk hwa ch mila

Sukki sukki Thandh rahi Lhoriyan noon tarrpa
badl le ja urra ke, val Lhore de desha

Na toon lorrein passport, na toon lorrein visa
na lagnay dollar tere, na custom, security te sama

Tainun koi na vekh sakda, kern tainun mehsoos sada
toon taan vagdi vagdi, jhaT paar ker lawein haddan

Tainun sajjay khhabbay’ aggay pichhay, rok na koi sakda
toon shurk ker ke langein kolon, bin dassay thaun patta

Gurumukhi te Shahmukhi nain, sanjhan layan pa
toon ve rishta jorr le, sang Lhore de hwa

Saday piyaray naal dostaan, toon ve dosti nibha
hathein chhawaan kern tainun, saijal palkan te biTha

Vancouver deye seetlay hwa, toon Lhore val ve ja
apni nighhi nami, khushk hwa ch mila

Read the original in Gurumukhi
Hwawan De Sanjh


ہواواں دی سانجھ
ہریندر کور ڈھاھاں

وینکوور دییے سِیتلے ہوا، توں لہور ول وی جا
اپنی نگھی نمی، خشک ہوا چ ملا

سُکّی سُکّی ٹھنڈ رہی لہوریاں نوں تڑپا
بدل لے جا اُڑا کے، ول ہور دی دِشا

ناں توں لوڑیں پاسپورٹ، ناں توں لوڑیں وِیزا
نہ لگنے ڈالر تیرے، نہ کسٹم، سیکیوریٹی تے سما

تینوں کویئ نہ ویکھ سکدا، کرن تینوں محسوس صدا
توں تاں وگدی وگدی، جھٹ پار کر لویں حدّاں

تینوں سجّے کھبّے، اگّے پِچھے، روک نہ کویئ سکدا
توں شُرک کر کے لنگھیں کولوں، بِن دسّے تھَوں پتہ

گورمُکھی تے شاہ مُکھی نیں، سانجھاں لیاں پا
توں وی رشتہ جوڑ لے، سنگ لہور دی ہوا

ساڈے پیارے نال دوستاں، توں وی دوستی نِبھا
ہتھیں چھانواں کرن تینوں، سیجل پلکاں تے بٹھا

وینکوور دییے سِیتلے ہوا، توں لہور ول وی جا
اپنی نگھی نمی، خشک ہوا چ ملا

مینوں اپنی ماں بولی پنجابی نال بے حد پیار ہے۔ وینکوور دے خالصہ سکول چ پنجابی پڑھاون دا سبھاگ وی پراپت ہویا۔ ہُن وی ہر اِتوار گوردوارے وچ بچیاں نوں پنجابی پڑھا کے خوشی محسوس کردی ہاں۔ پنجابی ساہت کویتاواں، کہانیاں تے ناول بڑے شوق نال پڑھدی رہندی ہاں۔ کدی کدی دھارمک کویتا لِکھ کے گوردواریاں چ پڑھن دا موقعہ وی ملدا رہندا ہے۔ میں اک پرمانت یوگا ادھیاپک (سرٹیفایئڈ یوگا ٹیچر) وی ہاں۔ ایہہ سِکھیا میں لنگارا کالج توں حاصل کیتی ہے۔

ڈھاھاں إنٹرنیشنل پنجابی لِٹریچر پرایئز نال میریاں بھاوناواں اتے سیواواں جُڑیاں ہویئاں نیں۔ نومبر ۲۰۱۳ وچ اسیں ڈھاھاں پرایئز دا اعلان کرن لئی لہور گئے سی۔ اوتھوں ایس قسم دی کویتا لکھن لیئ مُڈھلی پریرنا مینوں لہوریاں ولوں ساڈے لئی پیار، ستکار تے مان وچوں ملی۔ اوندے سیال پتہ لگیا کہ لہور دے لوک ٹھنڈیاں تے خشک ہواواں توں پِیڑت ہن۔ اک دن سیر کرن ویلے گرمی نال میریاں تپ رہیاں گلّاں نوں جدوں وینکوور دی سمندری ہوا نے چھویا تے اک انوکھا جیہا سکون ملیا۔ اوسے ویلے میرا دل وینکوور دی سیتل ہوا نوں لہور دی خشک ہوا نال سانجھ پیدا کرن لئی پکار اٹھیا۔

Read the above in Gurumukhi


Contact Uddari

Support India’s Protesting Authors


Uddari fully supports the protesting Indian authors who have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards, and those who have resigned from their posts, to protest the Akedemi’s inaction over the cold-blooded murder of fellow member Dr Malleshappa Kalburgi in August, and at the general escalation of intolerance in Indian society examplified in the recent Dadri incident where an alleged ‘beef-eater’ was lynched by a mob.

As well, Uddari rejects the Modi Government’s attempt to trivialize writers’ valid protest against human rights violations and growing constraints on the freedom of expression as just ‘personal choice’ of individuals.

The courageous authors who have returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards are Punjabi writers Waryam Sandhu, Atamjit, Ajmer Aulakh and Megh Raj Mittar; Malayalam writers K Satchidanandan, Anand, Sarah Joseph, Subhash Chandran, Shashi Despande, and Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas; Hindi writer Uday Prakash, English novelist Nayantara Sahgal, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi, and ‘Yuva Puraskar’-winning author Aman Sethi. This had begun earlier by six Kannada writers Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V Aloor and Chidanand Sali who had returned their awards to put pressure on the administration to take action on the murder of Dr. Kalburgi.

Uddari urges our readers to send messages to relevant authorities such as the Indian embassy in the USA, Consul Generals of India in Vancouver and Toronto, or to Sahitiya Akademi in India to strengthen the the efforts of protesting writers and activists. Here is the contact information.

Sahitiya Akademi
Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001
Phone: 91-11-23386626/27/28, Fax: 91-11-23382428
Secretary: 91-11-23073002, 23387064 (Direct line)
e-mail : secretary@sahitya-akademi.gov.in

Embassy of India, USA
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-7000
Fax: (202) 265-4351
Embassy Hours: 930 AM – 600 PM EST

Consulate General of India, Toronto
Mr. Akhilesh Mishra, Consul General

Consulate General of India, Vancouver
Mr.Rajiv Kumar Chander, Consul General

In September, a rally was held in Surrey BC by Taraksheel Sabha to protest the murder of Dr. Kalburgi

Fauzia Rafique

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A poetic legend retold

By Mahmood Awan

The Punjabi Adabi Board has published an edited version of Qissa SahibaaN which is exceptional in detail and content, and raises some basic questions about editing and editorial responsibilities

A poetic legend retold

Qissa SahibaaN, famously known as Qissa Mirza SahibaaN, is one of the most misunderstood epics. On one hand, some have dismissed it for the masculine nature of the tale and its nomenclature where the male naming takes precedence over female as compared to other famous qissas like Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahinwal, Sassi Punnu, ShiriN Farhad. They do so without reading the poets who have repeatedly called it SahibaaN’s Qissa and without analysing how and when Qissa SahibaaN became qissa Mirza SahibaaN.

On the other hand, the Marxist critics insist that it’s an elitist tale because both Mirza and SahibaaN belonged to the upper classes of the society and this whole affair was a feudal class tribal feud and their love an impure and compromised engagement.

The first known poet to compose this tale in verse was Peelo of Dhan-Khushab area. The only published text of Peelo is the one collected by Richard Carnac Temple (1850-1931) that appeared in the 3rd Volume of his legendary Legends of Panjab (Bombay;1886). He provided the original text in roman alongside its English translation. Dr Faqir Muhammad Faqir transliterated that roman text into Punjabi Persian script with the help of Dr Baqir and published it in late 1960s. Temple himself admitted in his introduction that his collected qissa is “characteristically incomplete”. He recorded it from the Jatts of Jalandhur district who used to sing it in their gatherings.

That was the magic of our undivided Punjab that an epic written in Dhan-Khushab region by an unknown poet could seamlessly travel to all corners of the country with its amazing oral flow and cultural oneness with no religious borders. Since then, verses like these have become Peelo’s poetic trademarks: “DassaN maheNaaN da ghio ditta bakki day didh paa/Mairi Bakki tu darran farishtay, maithu darray Khuda (Bakki (Mirza’s mare) eats-up the butter of ten buffaloes/the angels fear Bakki and God fears me).”

However, it was Hafiz Barkhurdar Ranjha of Sargodha whose rendering of the qissa popularised the epic in the real sense of its literary excellence. A poet of Karana Bar compiling a tale of Sandal Bar made it a legend as modern and fresh as Waris Shah’s Heer. Ironically there were more than one Punjabi poets named Hafiz Barkhurdar and they all happened to be contemporaries. However, thanks to the opening canto of the Qissa that confirms who the reverend author of this epic is: Daftar waachay dard day Rãnjhay Barkhurdar/ Qissay karda AashiqaaN gal rahay sansaar.

In Pakistani Punjab, there has never been any editorial skill set among Punjabi scholars who were capable of editing our classics (Asif Khan and Sharif Sabir did commendable work but that is also too little too late). Faqir Muhammad Faqir is our main guard post partition as he made most of the Punjabi classics available in print. However, he was not competent enough to edit any of these books and he never claimed so either. He did a great job of reproducing these classics from hand written and other available manuscripts and, if he hadn’t done that, very little would have been available to later generations for any reference.Qissa SahibaaN_Book Cover

Hafiz Barkhurdar’s epic was published by Dr Faqir in 1965 that was full of errors and typos especially those of its poetic meter. Then it took another forty eight years for someone to put in the much-needed hard work to produce the first credible edited version of the Qissa. It was published by Suchet Kitab Ghar in 2013 where editing credits are given to Sangat. It is the same Sangat whose sessions are held at Najm Hosain Syed’s house at Jail Road, Lahore since 1972 where writers like Nadir Ali, Zubair Ahmad and Maqsood Saqib are a few of the regular attendees among others.

This Sangat-edited version paved way for Mushtaq Soofi and Saeed Bhutta to come forward and produce their masterpiece that was published by Punjabi Adabi Board (referred as Board) earlier this year. Hafiz Barkhurdar is lucky to have finally found so many exceptional people who dedicated their immense talent and time in each word of his poetic legend. An extremely difficult task that should have been taken by public-funded institutions is being left to a few selfless individuals. Blessed is the ever ignored land of the Punjab that has always found those few to take care of its treasures.

Dr Faqir’s print is the common denominator among Sangat and Board’s edited versions. However, Soofi and Bhutta state in their book that they have also consulted three older versions of the epic published by the famous Kashmiri Bazar publishers of Lahore. One version is that of Malik Sirajuddin and other is by Malik Muhammad Din and sons. The third one is published by Matba Sultani, Lahore with the publication date of 1879.

Board’s Qissa SahibaaN is exceptional in detail and content. It has enriched the whole Punjabi literary scene by raising some very basic questions about editing and editorial responsibilities. It insists that Classics are the foundation stone of any literary heritage so no text should be rejected or changed without providing an authentic reference and solid reasoning. In a literary formation like ours that is based on oral traditions, editing becomes more challenging and demands for any change ought to be fully substantiated and justified.

Sangat writers don’t provide any primary sources they have relied upon while editing Barkhurdar except the sole mention of Dr Faqir’s print. Neither do they explain their editorial methodology. They do, however, give an opening disclaimer that editing of Punjabi classics is an ongoing process and all work done so far including this one is basically incomplete. They also suggest that young scholars should come forward to do the job.

So Bhutta and Soofi have come forward and produced their edited version that carries a forty page long preamble of findings, comparisons and editorial methodology, detailing verse by verse and word by word listings. They have identified five major flaws in Sangat’s edited version:

i) Sangat’s only reference is Dr Faqir’s version of the Qissa and they haven’t consulted Kashmiri Bazar editions at all that weakens the editorial authenticity.

ii) Although Dr Faqir’s version is Sangat’s primary and only source, in spite of that they did not try to stay closer to its text. Rather wherever they failed to comprehend any words or lines, they have changed the text altogether without providing any reasoning.

iii) Sangat has forcibly changed the grammar and verbs originally used by Hafiz Barkhurdar in previous prints to suit their preferred lehndi/western dialect, especially verbs related to future tense like ‘awaaN gay’ is changed to awsan , ‘lahwaaN gay’ is replaced withlahwsan and so on.

iv) Sangat has failed to provide the correct meanings of many words that belong to the bar’s native idiom and expression. Board version cites nineteen such instances. One of such words is Sana’h. Barkhurdar has used it at couple of places. It’s a word that means saneha or message but Sangat has translated it as zirra baktar (armour).

v) Sangat has removed four cantos (191 to 194) from Dr Faqir’s version without providing any reasons or references for removal.

This doesn’t mean that Board editors have altogether rejected Sangat’s efforts. They have openly appreciated their commendable effort in correcting poetic meter of the text and providing meanings of difficult words that sets the base of a smooth reading experience and makes further research possible. However, it will be interesting to see how Sangat responds to the above listed arguments.

Whatever that response may be, these two edited collections have brought back our classics into the scholastic mainstream that should be cherished and celebrated. In Hafiz Barkhurdar’s own words: Bhar katora dudh da, neeviN ho turri/ Sukki vall qadeem di, keeti phir harri. 

Qissa SahibaaN — Hafiz Barkhurdar
Editors: Mushtaq Soofi and Saeed Bhutta
Publisher: Pakistan Punjabi Adabi Board, Lahore
Distributor: Sanjh Publications, Lahore
Book Cover: Sabir Nazar
Pages: 175
Price: Rs. 360
Published in: on October 10, 2015 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Film Review: “Dheepan”


Starring: Anthonythasan Jesuthaasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

“Je m’appelle Dheepan.”

Dheepan begins on the twilight of the war in Sri Lanka. Sivadhasan (Jesuthaasan), a Tamil Tiger, mourns a fallen comrade. Yalini (Srinivasan), a young woman, wants to escape as a refugee.  Illaya (Vinasithamby), an orphaned girl, becomes Yalini’s ticket. Sivadhasan, now renamed “Dheepan,” Yalini and Ilaya leave Sri Lanka a “family” for France.

Set in a housing project on the outskirts of Paris and amidst a Balzac-like cast of thugs, gang members and drug pushers, Dheepan is raw, dark and moving. Audiard’s direction and storytelling create a picture as close to art and reality as cinema gets. Through the performances of Jesuthaasan, Srinivasan and Vinasithamby, one lives the tears, frustrations and spirit of Dheepan, Yalini and Ilaya. The war in Sri Lanka lives on not just in memories.

The cinematography of Eponine Momenceau deepens the ambiance with the paddy fields and funeral pyres of Sri Lanka to the smashed lighting strips and marijuana butts littering the housing project. In this Fifth Republic, there is no law, no fraternity. Dheepan, Yalini and Ilaya have to fight for a new beginning. In Dheepan, Audiard asks gracefully and frankly whether people can start again.

Rating: 88%

Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  

‘The Business of Burying is Booming’ by Fauzia Rafique

03Oregon-SS1-superJumbo-v3‘Community members at a vigil in Stewart Park to honor the victims of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Thursday’ October 1/15.
Photo by Gosia Wozniacka/Associated Press.

So sad, 45 mass shootings in nine months, state violence permeates all levels of society. It’s not just the ‘gun laws’ that need changing.

The Business of Burying is Booming

This ode is Daddy
-cated to NATO, our Unified Protector.


1949 to the Present, Daddy
is busy keeping ‘the Russians
OUT, the Americans
IN, and the Germans
The OUT changes
The DOWN changes
But the IN stays the same, and
The IN stays the same, and the IN
Stays the same. The same,
Once and for all:
America brings Dear
-Daddy Democracy and Pretty
-Pink Progress to the
-Third World (People).

NATO’s first progress: Vietnam war
4,257,282 civil, mostly Vietnamese
2,447,087 military, mostly Vietnamese
I won’t count
the dead of Kosovo or Yugoslav
Wars, Iraq Wars, Afghan
Wars or Pakistan Wars.
I’ll go
To NATO’s latest progress: Capture
and kill Gaddafi. Only six (includes my Heartbreak
Harperized Canada) of the
28 countries
in support, still 9,500 strikes.
And wow, how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo) how the
Business of
Burying is

Daddy my Sharp Guard Super
Man Hero, spends 70% of
world’s defence budget,
owns the most
of all the weapons of
mass destruction, with ‘possible first
use of tactical nuclear weapons’.
Daddy got navy warships, global
hawk surveillance drones, maritime
patrol aircraft, medium-range nuclear
missiles, radar and interceptor missiles
helicopters, ships, submarines, with
‘No reductions
foreseen in
NATO’s nuclear
And see how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo
Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan) how the
Business of
Burying is

Daddy has this huge (oops)
video game
collection, and
You are a part of Daddy’s
games. So am I, check
again, Daddy’s heroic adventures and quests:
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Ocean Shield, Training Mission – Iraq, Operation Eagle Assist, Active Underwear, Operation Essential Harvest, Deny Flight Operation, Deliberate Force, Operation Joint Endeavor
There’s more, including ISAF-KFOR-IFOR
-SFOR-ACE-ALTHEA, but no more
space on this page
‘cause I am going to
count those
to see how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo
Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan
Egypt Lybia Syria) how the
Business of
Burying is

To ward off Daddy’s colonial jok:
My mantra, a bit long
a little tedius
like all mantras.
It will work,
like all mantras.
‘In Your Name, the People of:
Albania (2,834,667), Belgium (10,827,519), Bulgaria (7,351,234),
Canada (34,447,000), Croatia (4,425,747), Czech
Republic (10,515,818);
‘In The Name Of:
5,560,628 Danes, 1,340,122 Estonians, 65,821,885 French
81,802,000 Germans, 11,306,183 Greeks,
10,014,324 Hungarians, 318,452 Icelanders, 60,605,053 Italians;
‘In Your Name, the People of:
Latvia: 2,229,500, Lithuania: 3,249,400, Luxembourg: 502,100, Netherlands: 16,667,700, Norway: 4,937,900, Poland: 38,092,000, Portugal: 10,636,888, Romania: 21,466,174, Slovakia: 5,435,273, Slovenia: 2,046,510, Spain: 46,148,605, Turkey 73,722,988;
‘In The Name Of:
62,008,048 Britishers and 311,328,000 Americans!
All together = 906,002,051 (White majority) people
(i am included even when Brown)
‘In Whose Name, In
My Name, In
Your Name, In
Our Name, In
My name, In
Your Name
Business of
Burying is

NATO: 28 member countries, two in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 in Europe while Turkey is in Eurasia. NATO missions have taken place in countries located in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Remembering deaths of Palestinian people, and others, not mentioned here.

From Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

DHAHAN PRIZE 2015: Darshan Singh – Harjeet Atwal – Nain Sukh

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Congratulations to authors Darshan Singh, Harjeet Atwal and Nain Sukh for winning this year’s Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize.

Prize ~ $25,000
Lota (Novel) by Darshan Singh
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Gurmukhi script
Mor Udaari (Novel) by Harjeet Atwal
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Shahmukhi script
Madho Lal Hussain – Lahore Di Vel (Novel) by Nain Sukh

Barj S. Dhahan, the Initiator of the Prize, said that this literary award ‘both opens doors for aspiring Punjabi writers and plays an important role in the preservation and expansion of the Punjabi language and its literature.’

The prizes will be celebrated at these events:

Dhahan Prize Awards Gala
A celebration of this year’s recipients and a keynote by Shauna Singh Baldwin
October 24, 2015 6:30pm
Surrey City Hall
Tickets $20
Facebook: facebook.com/events
Tickets: dhahanprize2015.eventbrite.com
Dhahan Prize Gala Invite 2015

Dhahan Prize Reading
With this year’s authors
October 25, 2015 1:30pm
Waterfront Theatre
Free event, RSVP required
Facebook: facebook.com/events
Reservations: dhahanprizereading2015.eventbrite.com
Dhahan Prize Gala Reading

More information

Previous winners are Khali Khoohaan di Katha by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script), Ik Raat da Samunder by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script), and Kabutar, Banaire te Galian by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script).

Contact Uddari

The Sweetest Tale of Doom. Ever!

‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ by Salman Rushdie

The Story of Imam Ghazali’s Jinn and Ibn Rushd’s Jinnia (‘jinnani’ in Punjabi) begins with the orthodox Muslim philosopher Imam Ghazali finding a bottle with the spirit of a powerful jinn in it, and the unorthodox Ibne Rushd finding himself in possession of a jinnia who is the princess and the heir-apparent of the jinni world thriving above us. The jinn is beholden by the Imam to spread his unreasonable and religious fundamentalist thoughts while the numerous ‘kan-tutta’ offspring of the jinnia and the ‘voice of reason’ must resist those ideas to save themselves, us and our world.

It is a surprise to read a pleasant and easy-to-get-into story about our fast-approaching environmental and economic disasters while we are suffering the violence unleashed by the warring corporate rulers and militant religious fundamentalists. In a beautiful, and often funny way, the reader gets to connect the dots in time, history, ideology, argument, cause, effect. This novel is not just an interesting read but it also makes a perfect artistic tool to fight the threats we face. After The Satanic Verses, this is another great literary intervention by Salman Rushdie where he has created something that can be used, in different ways of course, to strengthen secular and equality-seeking trends in the world.

The complexity of the themes of modern life becomes simple when told in the style of a fairy tale. Enjoyable, like all fairy tales, the text is ready to mutate into film, video drama, graphic novel, children’s illustrated book, teen comic book, stage drama, video game, and perhaps, a paperback edition.

I enjoyed Ursula K Le Guin’s review of it (a rare case of one fav doing another), her winks, and the chuckle where she expects that a male author should (could or would?) have explored the delights of motherhood regarding the human-jinnia who had delivered 7, 11 or even 19 children at a time. Yes, i agree, we have been robbed of many hilarious possibilities, but it’s like asking a woman author to expansively gloat in the frolics of mortal men. On second thoughts, may be Le Guin has a point, perhaps only men can speculate motherhood long enough to write something hilarious about it.

Her comment on the jinnia being a ‘man in drag’ provoked some thoughts. Going after one’s descendants or being committed to them can’t be a solely male passion or prerogative; a matriarch would do it perhaps for reasons different than those of the patriarch. Also, from the time the Dunia character appears at the Great Philosopher’s door, to when she re-appears in his grave after a few hundred years, she just keeps doing what she thinks would please the man; even, pathetic as it may sound, while she had been missing her offspring she only begins to get them together when the dead philosopher asks her to; she takes her own ‘leading’ role seriously after her father dies and the gardener bails, and then her almost unconditional beyond life-long love for the philosopher guy!! She seems like a weird woman pretending to be a jinnie.

And yes, it is indeed a delightful read, more so because now we have a new fairy tale on the world literary scene. I like that the people who are fighting for rational/equitable solutions in this story, trace their lineage from their mother; and also, that they are not just mix-race but mix-species.

If this present-day fairy tale was in the public domain, i would translate it in Punjabi and Urdu, and make it available in Pakistan (with the author name visible only to people without earlobes) at different levels of society to inspire artistic interventions.

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook editions.

Fauzia Rafique

Poet Irfan Malik in Town

Boston-based South Asian American poet and the organizer of South Asian American Theatre (SAATH) at Harvard University, Irfan Malik is visiting Vancouver from September 12 to 26 with his new collection of Punjabi poetry ‘Dooji Aurat’.

He will be presenting and participating in various events around town including the following, where his participation is made possible by some wonderful people such as our very own Ajmer Rode, Harinder Dhahan, Chin Mukherjee, Sukhwant Hundal, Anne Murphy, Carol Shillibeer, Barj Dhahan, Dr. Saif Khalid, Mohan Gill and Manpreet Dhillon.

Sept 13, 1-4pm
Punjabi Lekhak Manch
Newton Library, 13795 70 Avenue at King George Blvd, Surrey

Sept 14, 6-8pm
Hogan’s Alley Reading Series
Hogan’s Alley Cafe, 789 Gore Avenue, Vancouver

Sept 15, 6:30pm
Punjabi Poetry Evening
George Mackie Library, 112 St/84 Avenue, Delta

Sept 17, 1-3pm
Punjabi Seniors’ Group
Sunset Community Centre, Main/52, Vancouver

Sept 20, 

SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum
‘Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest’
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Sept 21, 3:30-5pm
UBC Punjabi Class
UBC Campus, Vancouver (non-public)

Sept 21, 6-8pm
Poetry Wars
100 Braid Street Studios, New Westminster

Sept 25, 5:30-8:30
Surrey Muse
Room 418, City Centre Library, Surrey

To contact Irfan while he’s here, send him an email at

Surrey Muse event details

Irfan Malik is the Featured Poet at this gathering. He will be presenting with Author Maureen Butler, Poet/Performer RC Weslowsky and Author Katherine Wagner. The event is hosted by poet/Performer Mariam Zohra.

Event is sponsored by
Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature
Dhahan Logo in all scriptsand
Surrey Muse & Uddari Weblog

Contact Uddari

Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest – SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum


A talk by Karamat Ali
Poetry: Irfan Malik

Sept 20 at 2pm, 
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Since their creation as independent states in 1947 India and Pakistan have fought three wars and taken the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear holocaust. The two militarized states face each other across an uneasy “line of control” in divided Kashmir, frequently bringing the miseries of war to those living along the border. People of the subcontinent need peace, yet peace remains elusive. How can the roadblocks to peace be overcome?

Karamat Ali is a well-known figure in the labour movement in Pakistan and also a prominent peace activist. He is the founder of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER – in Karachi) and co-founder of The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. An eminent labour activist over the last four decades, he is the author of numerous articles and essays on labour, politics and development. Karamat is also the first recipient of Dadi Nrmala Deshpande Peace and Justice Award (2013).

Born in Lahore, Irfan Malik is the Artistic Director of South Asian American Theatre in Boston. He writes in Punjabi, Urdu, and English. His latest book of Punjabi poetry, Dooji Aurat, was published in 2015.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD, sansad.org) and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC).

Chin: 604-421-6752
Shahzad: 604-613-0735

Art Work
Shahid Mirza. Leek 4. Mix-media on paper. 14″x27″.


Public Lectures by Karamat Ali

These two Public Lectures are sponsored by the SFU Labour Studies Program and the Hari Sharma Foundation. They are the first of a series to address key questions confronting the labour movement around the world.

1. Lecture: ‘The Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan’
18 September 2015, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
SFU Vancouver Campus, Harbour Centre: Room 1900
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

2. Lecture: ‘Women’s Labour Rights in Pakistan’
22 September 2015, 12:30-1:30 pm
SFU Burnaby Campus: Room AQ 6106, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby

Contact Uddari

India Wins Freedom – The Maulana Speaks


Written by Randeep Singh

The complete text of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s India Wins Freedom was not released until 1988. Until then, Azad (1888-1958) had withheld his personal comments on the responsibility of Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi for the Partition of India.[1]

The “founder of Indian partition,” was Patel, says Azad. Patel saw partition as a way to eliminate the Muslim League from Indian politics. He found it impossible and frustrating to work with the League’s members as part of an interim government and “openly said that he was prepared to have a part of India if only he could get rid of the Muslim League.”

While Nehru was less enthusiastic about partition, he became gloomy about the prospects of working with the Muslim League in government and acquiesced to the idea of partition.

Nehru sowed other seeds too. Congress had approved a plan proposed by the British cabinet to create a federation of Indian states with guarantees of provincial autonomy (including Muslim majority areas). This only just placated the Muslim League, says Azad. Nehru however proclaimed that Congress would be free to modify the plan as it wished. This alienated the Muslim League so as to make any further negotiations with Congress pointless.

The “greatest shock” for Azad was the Mahatma’s change in his attitude toward the Partition. The apostle for Hindu-Muslim unity gradually became less vehement in his opposition to Partition. Indeed, Gandhi became convinced that partition was inevitable after his suggestion to invite Jinnah to form the government was flatly rejected by Nehru and Patel.

What I found most illuminating about “India Wins Freedom” is Azad’s prescience regarding what the Partition meant for India’s future. Partition did not solve India’s communal problem; it lodged it permanently in the Indian psyche. In accepting Partition, Patel and Nehru had endorsed the Two Nations Theory. How then were they any different from Jinnah?

“India won her freedom, but lost her unity,” says Azad. It’s worth remembering 69 years on, that those who get the credit for winning India’s freedom should also bear the blame for dividing it.

Further Reading:

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India Wins Freedom (Orient Longman: Hyderabad, 1988).

[1] Azad was the longest serving President of the Indian National Congress before 1947 and served as independent India’s first Minister of Education. He narrated his experiences in India Wins Freedom in Urdu between 1955 to 1957 to Humayun Kabir who transcribed and translated them into English.

Published in: on August 16, 2015 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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‘Rainshed Dream’ by Sana Janjua

The purple midnight of Jhelum
crawls over the rainshed memory
I have of you – drenched,
tipsy with pubescent desire,
as if you will light up the mosque in
which we played cards
with your skill at the game- those nerved hands-
and the soul of that fluttering heart,
all mine.
Outside, it poured
and I cajoled you on
with my nascent dialect
that was too outlandish to
your upper middle class upbringing.

A jackal  whimpered in the distance,
somewhere where jackals reside.
The pack moved closer in inches
towards the story, so that the epic

(our love story)

became an unmoored myth
of belligerent animals
that slime out of nocturnal spaces,


which perturbed your
sophisticated sensibilities,
making me an incongruity to your prestige,

your high end, red bricked house,

heaving its mighty benevolence

in the midst of an anthill, my residence.

Your story had to be written with the
nib of a peacock feather,

dipped in the splash of white gold,

imbuing the stately shades

you have in your heroic blood,

when you so generously grant me
a smile,

a glimpse,

(and, nowadays)

a small touch

so i may burn,

burn at both ends.

i have no where to go,

but to hide in the shadows

my voice

generates on the periphery

of your vision.

My genesis lies in
the idea of the possibility

that i may exist,

that i may very well be born

under the weight of

your rib cage.

It’s you,
who has brought me to life.

Between us, there is a galaxy

of contradictions,

and of a singular realization

that you are the guardian of my imagination,

and i am the silhouette of your past.

All this time,
in looking at you and the passing nights,
I only had a longing– a wild cry–

inherited and passed down the line of
old city’s song writers who feed on
the wisdom and chirping of migratorial birds;
right here from my throat
to my stomach is
but a cry, –a wild cry–
a song bird’s devotion,
nothing to quell your taste in music and noble art.

You have spent days
unlearning the dignified aesthetics
of your social class
when you play Salman Ahmed
on a small guitar,
that tune which had no song attached to her,
no burden attached.
It is a free tune and
we are free to touch each other,
as we hold  each other’s hands,

wanting to kiss the august sky
in the imagined street named after

you and me.

Mad reverie,
Somewhere in the world,
There is a street named
after our unrequited love.
Find me that, and

find me your love.

Sana Janjua is a poet and a playwright who is also the President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation/discussion group.