Nanak Shah Fakir

nanak-shah

Written by Randeep Singh

In April 2015, Sikhs in India, UK and the United States, forced the withdrawal of the film Nanak Shah Fakir from cinemas. The film, a biopic on the founder of Sikhism, was objected to by Sikhs and Sikh organizations on the grounds that filmic representations of Guru Nanak are prohibited. I became aware that this film was banned just a few days back when I was speaking with an old acquaintance about the current state of cinema in India.

I doubt that the depiction of Nanak was prohibited given that there was no film in Nanak’s day, and given how he is depicted with abandon by Sikhs in paintings and images obviously not sanctioned by him.

Jesus has been depicted in films like The Passion of Christ. Muhammad has been depicted in films like The Messenger. Why prohibit films on Nanak? It is so that Sikh religious institutions, and members of the Sikh community, can maintain a particular, sanitized image of Nanak for themselves. They refuse to admit Nanak was a human being or anything less than divine.

Sikhs and non-Sikhs should welcome films and literature that furthers understanding of historical figures like Nanak. Surely the life of the subcontinents great historical personalities – whether Nanak, Amir Khusrao or the Buddha – deserve to be known better.

The director of Nanak Shah Fakir, Sartaj Singh Pannu, stated in November last year, that he would release the film with amendments. It makes me wonder just what protestors in cinemas like those in Wolverhampton found so objectionable in Nanak Shah Fakir? The refusal to conform to officially standardized representations of Nanak?  The nerve to ask questions? Surely, Nanak, someone who in the traditional accounts, traveled far, encountered new ideas and debated vigorously against religious leaders, still has a lesson to teach to today’s self-appointed guardians of faith and culture.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed! Protect Bangladesh’s Secular People from Religious Fanatics!

photo-ap
Bloodstained glass is visible near the spot where Samad was hacked to death. Photograph: AP’ an earlier image from the theguardian.com

In the past week, a gay rights activist and the editor of the only LGBT magazine Xulhaz Mannan was murdered with Tanay Mojumder, a community organizer, for being ‘pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh’. This came two days after the killing of Rezaul Karim Siddique, a professor Of English, for promoting secular ideas. More is here:
washingtonpost.com

It appears to be an ongoing strategy of religious fanatics to eliminate their critics and others who do not believe in their favored religion. It’s happening not just in Bangladesh but also in India, Pakistan and elsewhere. We are proud to stand against religious bigots everywhere.

Please use the following links to send messages urging the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajed to take necessary steps to assure safety of secular people, journalists, writers and activists.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Send an email
info@pmo.gov.bd
Send a Facebook message
facebook.com/Sheikh-Hasina-Prime-Minister-of-Bangladesh
H. E. Kamrul Ahsan
High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Canada
Send an email
bangla@rogers.com

Sample message to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
‘We condemn the three extra-judicial murders of secular minded people in Bangladesh, and we demand from Bangladesh government to take necessary measures against religious extremists to assure safety of peaceful activists, journalists and educators. These killings give us a clear view of the extreme religious mind: It is intolerant, uses bullying tactics, tries to bend others to their will with violence, uses sickening cruelty, disregards laws, becomes the judge and the jury, dishes out death instead of justice. Your government must act with force and conviction to defeat this mindset.’

Secular Pakistan & Uddari Weblog
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The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program – Vancouver March 16-17

The-Harjit-Kaur-Sidhu-Memorial-Program-2016‘Lumber being air dried’ (1910), Vancouver Public Library Acc. No. 14264.

The Eighth Annual
Celebration of Punjabi
The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program 2016
Presented by the Department of Asian Studies, UBC
UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall

March 16, 7-9 PM, UBC Asian Centre Auditorium
Reception with snacks at 6:30
Talk on the Ghadar movement by Sunit Singh (University of Chicago)
Award presentation to student winners in a Punjabi-language essay contest
Honour BC-based Punjabi-language author Jarnail Singh Sekha with a life-time achievement award
View performances in Punjabi by students in Punjabi 200 and films by students from ASIA 475, ‘Documenting Punjabi Canada’.

March 17, 4 PM, Room 604, UBC Asian Centre
Talk by Sunit Singh ‘Western Clarion: Canadian Socialists and Indian Migration to British Columbia’, exploring the connections between members of the Punjabi Canadian community and the Canadian Left.

For more information
asia.ubc.ca under “events”
blogs.ubc.ca/punjabisikhstudies under ‘annual event’

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Author Jarnail Singh Sekha Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Uddari congratulates Jarnail Singh Sekha on winning the life-time achievement award in this year’s Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program at UBC.

Jarnail Singh Sekha new

Jarnail Singh Sekha is a BC-based author and teacher who has been actively involved in community building efforts in both the areas of literature and education. Yet his most valuable contributions are his novels and other writings.

Sekha’s first book was a collection of short stories titled ‘Udaasay Bol’ that was published in India in 1992. Four years later, his first novel ‘Dunia Kaisi Hoi’ came out, and it became part of postgraduate curriculum at Gurunanak University; the book is now running its fourth edition. Since then he has published ‘Bhagorra’ in 2003, another novel that has enjoyed three editions so far, with a Hindi edition in 2004. Sekha’s other titles include ‘Apna Apna Surg’ (stories, 2003), ‘Dullay de Baar Tak’ (travelogue 2005. Urdu edition ‘Vancouver se Lyalpur’ in 2009), ‘Vigocha’ (novel, 2009, 2 editions. Hindi edition ‘Pighalti Yaadein’ in 2016), ‘Cheteyan de Chilman’ (memoir, 2013), ‘Be-Gaanay’ (novel, 2014).

Sekha has edited various Punjabi books, and most recently, he has script-converted and edited the Gurmukhi edition of Professor Ashiq Raheel’s novel ‘Navekla Sooraj’.

In India, Sekha worked as Punjabi language teacher where he took a leading role in encouraging school administrations and communities to build and/or to re-furbish existing school buildings. He was an active member of government teachers union, and served as its president. After retirement, Sekha became a member of the local panchayat, and helped establish a veterinary hospital, a grain market and other public facilities. He also added a three-roomed section, called the Sajjan Block, in a school to commemorate his grandfather.

He is a founding member of Likhari Sabha Mogha, and has worked with Kaindri Lekhak Sabha and Punjabi Sahit Academy Ludhiyana, in India. In Vancouver, he is with Punjabi Lekhak Manch where he has served in various positions of responsibility. Sekha is also a founder and director of BC Punjabi Cultural Foundation that began in 2003 to present in BC a yearly Punjabi book festival in partnership with Chetna Parkashan.

Jarnail Singh is now working on another novel, and on the second part of his memoir.

Contact Jarnail Singh Sekha
 jsekha@hotmail.com

Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program 2016, The Eighth Annual Celebration of Punjabi Presented by the Department of Asian Studies, UBC. UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall. March 16-17, 2016.

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3.

By Mariam Zohra

Ahona

three.jpg

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Published in: on February 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

PUNJABI LANGUAGE CELEBRATION – 13th Annual – Delta Feb 27/16

plea-banner-copy

PUNJABI LANGUAGE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION’S (PLEA)
13th Annual
International Mother Language Day
Saturday Feb. 27, 2016
Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
North Delta Rec. Centre 11415 – 84 Ave., Delta
❉ Discussions: efforts to have Punjabi language education in
local educational institutions. Mr. Garry Thind from the Surrey
school board will be present.
❉ It is a matter of great pride for all of us that a large number
of Punjabis are part of Canada’s federal government. Is this
going to have any effect on the development and preservation
of Punjabi language in Canada? Surrey Centre MP Randip Sarai
will be present to discuss this.
❉ Young Punjabi learners will share poetry, songs and ideas.
❉ PLEA cordially invites everyone to come and be part of the
annual celebration of Punjabi language.
❉ Free Event. Refreshments.

For more information Please contact
Balwant Sanghera – 604-836-8976
Sadhu Binning – 604-437-9014
Parvinder Dhariwal – 778-838-1121
Paul Binning – 778-889-8255
ਪ ੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੈਂਗੂਏਜ ਐਜੂਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਅਸੋਸੀਏਸ਼ਨ (ਪਲੀ)

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Book Launch – ‘A Journey With The Endless Eye’ – Ajmer Rode & Jarnail Singh

Uddari congratulates Ajmer Rode, Jarnail Singh Artist, NAAD Foundation and Ekstasis Editions for creating this book of images and words on the historic incident of Komagata Maru.

Naad Foundation
Proudly invites you
ajmerrode-booklaunch

to the launch of
A JOURNEY WITH THE ENDLESS EYE
(stories of Komagata Maru incident)
21 February 2016, 2:00 pm
Crossroads United Church, 7655, 120 St, Delta, BC
Free Event, Refreshments

Featuring
Tabla by Amarjit Singh
Songs by Gagandeep Singh
Flute by Dr. Bruce Harding
A Play by Gurdip Arts Academy
Painting exhibition by Jarnail Singh

Written by
Ajmer Rode and Jarnail Singh Artist
Published by
Richard Olafson of Ekstasis Editions

More information
naadfoundation.ca – 778-565-4005
Ajmer Rode – 604-526-2342
Jarnail Singh Artist – 604-825-4659

Supported by: TMG Logistics, Basant Motors, Komagatamaru Foundation, RED FM, MY FM, Jassal Signs, Gurdeep Arts Academy, Jarnail Arts, Crossroads United Church.

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The Best Selling Punjabi Novel: Skeena

skeena-punjabi-cover

I am delighted to share with you the news that my first novel Skeena has become ‘the most-sold Punjabi novel’ of all times in Pakistan, and it’s publisher, Sanjh Publications, is coming out with a Second Edition in March 2016.

In an email message, Publisher Amjad Salim Minhas said that ‘Sakina is the most sold Punjabi novel Sanjh has ever published; it is also the most sold Punjabi novel in Pakistan’.

In addition to the Shahmukhi Punjabi, Sanjh Publications now has the rights to publish Skeena in Gurmukhi Punjabi, English and Urdu.

This best-selling Shahmukhi Punjabi edition was published in 2007, and it was the most-launched book in Pakistan with events held in nine cities, each in partnership with local writers and literary organisations. This also made it the ‘most reviewed Punjabi book‘; and, the only novel that brought the movement for Punjabi language rights to the fore at each of its launching events.

Skeena’s Shahmukhi edition was printed 1000 copies where 350-500 is the norm; Skeena is sold-out, and that also is not the norm. The publisher thinks that the reasons for its sales/popularity are ‘content, style and exceptional literary quality’.

It is interesting to note that Author Anthony Dalton’s 2011 predictions about Skeena’s English edition are sl–ow–ly but surely coming to pass in Punjabi, though we still have to see how the Gurmukhi edition does in the Indian Punjab where Skeena has never been published or marketed.

My gratitude to the readers, reviewers, peers; the publisher, editor, all members of the production team; and, the funders and supporters of Skeena’s Shahmukhi Punjabi edition for this profound and rewarding experience.

Thank you.

Fauzia
gandholi.wordpress.com
novelskeena.wordpress.com

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Call for Submissions: 2016 Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature Jan 12 – March 15

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Vancouver, BC (January 12, 2016) – Submissions are now open for the Dhahan Prize, the world’s signature prize in Punjabi literature. Authors who have published novels or short story collections in 2015 in either of the Punjabi scripts, Gurmukhi or Shamukhi, are invited to submit their works for the $25,000 CDN first prize. Two second prizes of $5,000 CDN will also be awarded.

Submissions will be accepted between
January 12 – March 15, 2016
Submissions can be made by the author between
January 12 – March 15, 2016
Guidelines and eligibility terms
dhahanprize.com/2016-submissions
Submissions should be made both electronically and in hard copy. Submit electronic version at
dhahanprize.com
Deliver two hard copies of the printed book to
Canada-India Education Society
Unit 1058—2560, Shell Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0B8 Canada

Based in Vancouver, Canada, The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature was established in 2013 to recognize excellence in Punjabi literature, and to inspire the creation of Punjabi writing across borders. The prize is awarded at the international level each year to three books of fiction in Punjabi written in either of the two scripts, Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi.

The Dhahan Prize celebrates the rich culture and transnational heritage of Punjabi language and literature by awarding a yearly prize for excellence in Punjabi fiction. The Prize mission is to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale. The prize was founded by Barj and Rita Dhahan, with support from family, friends, and the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Prize is awarded annually by the Canada India Education Society (CIES).

For more information, visit
dhahanprize.com
Or join the conversation
On Twitter or Facebook
For Media Interviews
Manpreet Dhillon
604-374-3274
contact@dhahanprize.com
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‘Bits and Pieces: Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ by Fauzia Rafique

Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium
Sponsored by Geist magazine and Surrey Libraries
Presented by Surrey Art Gallery, SFU English, South of Fraser Inter-Arts Collective (SOFIA/c)

Most of ‘Bits and Pieces’ was presented on the second day of Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium ‘Voicing the City In/verse: Reading Surrey and the Super Suburb’. The event was organized by a team of amazing volunteers and staff, and it was beautifully convened by Phinder Dulai (SOFIA/c) and Jordan Strom (Surrey Art Gallery). The first panel ‘Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ had myself, Cecily Nicholson, Joseph A. Dandurand and Heidi Greco. The second panel ‘Kinetic City /City in Motion’ had Sadhu Binning, Taryn Hubbard, Kevin Spenst and Tom Konyves.

The second day began with the Traditional Kwantlen Welcome and Drum Song offered by Kwantlen Nation Elder Kevin Kelly with Michael Gabriel and Joseph A. Dundrand. After, M.G. Vassanji gave an insightful keynote on the marginalization of spaces, artists and art. It was great to have Vassanji and Noorjehan visit from Toronto where the two have been working for the last thirty or so years to develop literary communities through organizing, writing, editing (Toronto South Asian Review) and publishing (TSAR Publications). At the symposium, Vassanji provided us with a larger framework for the subject, and with the depth that had been created, it was easy for me to bring it right back to Surrey.

Bits and Pieces

Writing and reading Surrey is challenging because Surrey in Vancouver Lower Mainland is somewhat like Muslims in North America, we have to begin by saying what we aren’t and what it isn’t. So, yes, Surrey is not boonies, not rife with violent Punjabi gangs, not a hotbed of crime, no, it’s not in the third world. It’s right here on the south bank of Fraser River, the city of parks, of future, of the desis; the city of prosperity and abundance, of poverty and violence; it’s an edge city of exile and refuge. Sounds like any of all cities to me, and yet so unique. In the next twelve minutes, i’ll present a few bits and pieces that i have carefully collected to contribute to this discussion.

The first item is a paragraph from the fourth and the last section of my novel Skeena that takes place in Surrey where Skeena, a 37-year old Pakistani Punjabi Canadian woman, arrives after having lived the last thirty years in Toronto, Lahore, and a Punjabi village.

‘This building is sitting on a ravine on one side, and Scott Road on the other. Brenda came for a visit last year, and she asked me why I bought a condo here when better residential areas were also available in Surrey. I could not find an answer for her then. Now, as I look at the ravine, it appears to be a cluster of trees in my village, and away from my view, there also is the continuous hum of a busy Ferozepur Road in Lahore.’

Skeena, Libros Libertad 2011
novelskeens.wordpress.com

Next we have excerpts from a blog post on hijab, titled ‘Purdah Manifestations’, a contemplation on different forms of purdah and how it’s implemented in different places by different social segments of Pakistani Muslims, it touches my experiences in about six different cities in Pakistan before getting to Surrey.

‘In 2004, i saw a bearded male lead a burqa-clad and hijab-thrown woman at 72nd and 124th in Surrey British Columbia. For some reason, i got transfixed on the couple, and stood watching them till they walked out of my sight. First i tried to be the man to figure out why he would want his wife to be in hijab in a country where most women were showing their faces. What does he think is unique about the face and body of his wife that they must be so hidden. Then i tried to be the woman to see why i would accept an existence where when walking i can barely see the two-and-a-half-feet long road that culminates at the heels of my husband. My imagination was injured by imagining both roles…’

‘In 2009, burqa/hijab/purdah hit the Western news stands with intensity because of the controversy generated by the legislated ‘ab-use’ of it by the French government.’

‘Most recently, and as late as this last winter, i was confronted by a black member of the Muslim brotherhood at Scott Road Station in line for a bus to Newton Exchange. In love with his own voice, the Preacher went on and on about the absolute necessity for women to observe purdah and the unforgiveability of not observing it. As an illustration of his preferences, and of an exemplary state of a Muslim woman, he pointed out to me a burqa-wearing woman who was also in the same line. The ‘discussion’ became an argument; the woman in burqa did not participate…’

‘Last month, i spotted a woman in burqa at Broadway skytrain station who later chose to sit beside me while coming to Surrey. She caught my eye because though in burqa, she was standing straight without covering her face. From the fair color of her skin, i assumed she was Iranian or Lebanese. On the skytrain, she made patronizing attempts to converse with me that made me feel suspicious of her intentions. It seemed, she was hoping to convert a chadar-wearing brown woman to stricter disciplines. And then, it came out that she was an Anglo Saxon convert to Islam. I offered her my poetry chapbook that had just come out. She skimmed through it, stopping at ‘My Shariah-Compliant Bra’ and ‘My Drone-Dead Lover’, and then she shut it close producing a sharp noise; ‘I don’t read poetry’, she thrust it back at me. This is one of the rare instances when i was happy to be rejected as a poet. I consider it a compliment to be rejected by an Anglo-Saxon-woman-convert-to-Islam who was using the burqa to gain high moral ground so that she can preach purdah to wayward and ignorant brown Muslim women.’

A blog post on purdah:
Purdah Manifestations

The next item is a song by Mariam Zohra, a founding member and the Creative Director of Surrey Muse. The song is about East Vancouver’s Tent City that came up a few years back as a protest against urban poverty and homelessness. Tent City had activists camp out in a park during the summer. This is an excerpt, and the link to the song is at the end of it.

get your ensemble
oh teacher
wanna talk about
tent city
so,
what are people
doin in Oppenheimer Park?
Teacher
what are people doing
parking tents, tents at the park,

teacher
get up get up
oh
I don’t know you gotta find out for yourself
we can talk about
tent city

Lyrics/Vocals: Mariam Zohra D. Music: Michael Louw. Song Composition: Michael Louw & Mariam Zohra D. 
Tent-City Song

Next is a spoken word item that has become written text now, so i’ll just read it to you.

‘It was a beautiful, warm and golden summer day. I was visiting a home in East Vancouver, and while the host made tea, I stood by the window and enjoyed being part of a quite residential street lined with thick old trees. Narrower than most streets in Surrey, it had a small park on one side and prosperous and old single family homes on the other. As I took in the view, a man appeared from one end of my vision of the road, in the way he walked he seemed to be a part of the street, the trees, of leaves, and the breeze rustling through them. It was as if he was gliding, smiling for sure. Then he passed right in front of me, dancing on tiptoes, twirling something in his other hand. Just watching him was a privilege. Seeing his back, I noticed that he was wearing a white sleeveless tank top, arms full of black, blue and red tattoos, with white cotton shorts over tattooed legs. It was a tall white guy with brown hair. And just then, I heard sirens, shattering the peace on the street with shocking accuracy. A police car came out of nowhere, zoomed past me, and hit hard breaks inches from the guy. By the time, the police car stopped and a cop jumped out, two other police cars were already there blocking the road on the other side, and a couple of cops were making their way toward him from the park.
The next moment, the guy was pinned to the road, and cops were holding him down while another stood ready with a tazer aimed at him. They mauled him, searched him, and then came away. They had ‘recovered’ a long white feather.
‘Sorry, Sir, we received a call from a property owner on the street who thought you were wielding a dangerous weapon, like a long knife ‘with glittering white blade’, they said.’
And then after deliberating among each other, they returned the feather to the guy, and left while the guy stood bewildered amidst shattered shards of a peaceful sunny afternoon.
The white guy was on a rare summer vacation from Newfoundland.’

Unpublished item.
It was presented in readings at Surrey and New Westminster.

Now, we have Jamie Reid’s poem PRAYER that I first heard from Vancouver’s wonderful slam poet RC Weslowski at the September gathering of Surrey Muse, just after Reid moved on. Last night, Heidi Greco was kind enough to lend me the anthology with the poem in it. I’ll just present what occurs most often in the poem, the refrain. As well, not just the refrain but the whole poem is in capitals- a form of protest, shouting or both, i guess.

PRAYER
By Jamie Reid

LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE AT LEAST
AT LEAST LET THE SKY ESCAPE PLEASE AT LEAST
LET THE SKY ESCAPE

Pages 74-76.
‘Revolving City’, eds. Compton & Saklikar, Anvil Press 2015

So far:
In the first item, the migrant character Skeena sees the new place as a continuity instead of a break, an important distinction. Purdah Manifestations shows how specific issues are faced by each of us in all our different social locations, ‘us’ includes everyone, colored/white migrants and indigenous peoples. The Tent City song points to poverty as integral to the cityscape, an issue that seeks resolutions. In the so-called spoken word item, the white man with a white feather brings out class as an entrenched form of othering, and Jamie Reid’s poem touches the heartache where the city destroys the land and the landscape. And this brings us to our last two items: an image and a slogan.

The image is of a new city park in Seattle.

fromthehungsrsiteFrom the Hungersite.

Seattle’s new city park reminds us of Havana where in the decade after the sanctions were placed on Cuba the average Cuban adult lost 20 lbs. But by the end of that same decade…

The average Cuban was getting ‘2600 calories and more than 68 grams of protein, an amount considered “sufficient” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. By 2006 average caloric intake was up to 3356 calories. A lot of this food was produced not in the countryside (requiring transport to the cities) but in urban gardens, where food was grown and consumed in the same neighborhood. By 2002, 35,000 acres of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city’s fresh produce came from local urban farms and gardens, all organic. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans were employed in urban agriculture. In 2003, Cuba had reduced its use of Diesel fuel by more than 50%, synthetic fertilizers by 90%, and chemical insecticides by 83%.’

Surrey, the City of Parks and of Future, is best-placed to turn some of its manicured parkland to nutritious food forests in anticipation of a delightful urban future.
the-worlds-most-sustainable-country-what-cuba

And now, the slogan. We have about three renditions of it, and i think we’ll be able to choose one easily.
The first:
A Tree For A Tree
The second:
A Tree For Every Tree
And the third:
A Tree For Every Profit-Damned Earth-Loving Brown Ass Tree

All in favor of the third one, raise hands.
On second thoughts, in the interest of brevity and simplicity, we better choose the first.

To view the context of slogans, check this poem presented the previous night at the Literary Cabaret.
‘Good news…’

Thank you, it was a great pleasure to be with you today and to participate in this 2-day event.
Fauzia
frafique@gmail.com
gandholi.wordpress.com
.
.

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

bolaka-bo-bally

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
Manolis
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

Related posts
Add Your Name to Support India’s Protesting Authors & Artists
Support India’s protesting authors

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

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Uddari Weblog
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@SurreyMuse
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Web Pages
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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.

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

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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-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

Asma-Jahangir-oslofreedomforum
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
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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

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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
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Read the original in Gurumukhi
Hwawan De Sanjh

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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
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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

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