2019 Dhahan Prize Youth Award for Creative Writing – March 14 Surrey

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You are cordially invited to
The Dhahan Prize launch of
The 2019 Youth Award for Creative Writing
8 PRIZES VALUED AT $500 EACH
Thursday, March 14th
10:30-11:30 a.m.
LA Matheson Secondary School, Surrey
9484 – 122 Street, Surrey V3V 4M1

The event will host speakers including:
The Principal, teachers, and students of LA Matheson Secondary School
A representative of sponsoring partner, Coast Capital Savings
Founder of the Dhahan Prize

Snacks and Refreshments will be served

For more information, visit
dhahanprize.com/youth

Download PDF poster:
Dhahan Prize – 2019 Youth Prize Invitation
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Drums of Change: A Review of Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN

‘Want a book that’ll change you? Let me be the first to recommend @RafiqueFauzia ‘s “The Adventures of SahebaN” an incredible tale that had me laughing until I wept. Read my review at the link below and you’ll see what I mean.’ Jessica Barrett

An amazing out-of-the-blue review by Jessica Barrett of my novel ‘The Adventures of SahebaN’ posted to twitter this morning. Thank you @JessicaBarratt
“SahebaN is the feminist warrior I hadn’t realized I was missing.”
“Rafique has succeeded in creating a feminist commentary that no audience is safe from.”

WordsofHers

Being a Canadian woman writer of European descent, I came into Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN without background knowledge of the role (Mirza) Sahiba plays in much of traditional Punjabi culture. The beauty of Rafique’s text however, is how my lack does not impact my understanding of how the narrative turns a cultural model for perfection (Sahiba) on her head to showcase the flaws of that very perfection, and (in particular) to show that a woman can be honourable, and pure, and loyal, without bowing to the restrictive ideas and expectations that society and religion place upon her.

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PLEA Presents the 16th Mother Language Day on February 23 at KPU Surrey

You are warmly invited to participate in the 16th celebration organized by Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) on International Mother Language Day.

This year’s event will take place at
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)
Surrey Campus, Cedar Building Atrium
Saturday, February 23, 2019 – 1:30 p.m.
Free parking, light refreshments

Download English and Gurmukhi Punjabi posters
PLEA Feb.23,2019.PosterUni
PLEA Feb.23,2019.Poster.Eng

For more information, contact
Sadhu Binning at 778-773-1886
Balwant Sanghera at 604-836-8976

PLEA’s Facebook group page
facebook.com/groups/PunjabiLanguageEducationAssociation
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Welcome Author/Publisher Parveen Malik to Vancouver – Dhahan Prize 2018 Events

This year, as part of the celebrations of Dhahan Prize for Punjabi literature, Pakistan’s renowned author, poet and publisher Parveen Malik will be visiting Vancouver. ‘Parveen Malik is a writer of fiction, teleplays and radio programs; a known literary personality on radio and TV; and, a highly respected publisher of Urdu and Punjabi literary books.’ More about Parveen is here: parveen-malik-punjabi-maanboli-writer

Parveen will participate in ‘Afternoon with Winners and Finalists’ on Sunday October 21st at Crossroads United Church in Surrey.
View the details in the poster below.

The main Dhahan Prize 2018 Awards Ceremony will take place on:
Saturday October 20th
6:00 PM – 9:30 PM, at:
Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre
UBC, 6163 University Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
More information:
eventbrite.com/e/dhahan-prize-2018-awards-ceremony

Uddari congratulates the 2018 Dhahan Prize winners:
Baldev Singh Sadaknama for ‘Sooraj Dee Akh’ (Sun’s Eye), historical fiction.
Nasir Baloch for ‘Jootha Sacha Koi Na’ (Anything Goes), short story collection.
Harpreet Sekha for ‘Prism’, short story collection.
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India’s Supreme Court Ruling

section-377.jpg
On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was unconstitutional. The section – enacted in 1861 when India was still a British colony – effectively criminalized gay sex.

India’s LGBT communities erupted in euphoria. The Indian and international press joined in the jubilation with one BBC headline ringing, “India’s Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Sex … ”

The Supreme Court’s decision marks an important beginning for India’s LGBT and for the country. For India’s sexual minorities, it represents a victory in a long struggle against an inhumane and draconian law. For India, the ruling holds the promise of a new era where India starts to step out from the shadows of its colonial past.

I too was euphoric after reading the headlines only to confront a few sober realities.

First, the Supreme Court of India ruling has not legalized gay sex. It has declared that the law discriminated against LGBT sex is unconstitutional. The law is still in force and cannot be repealed or amended except by an act of Parliament.

Second, as long as it remains on the books, the section will continue to be invoked. Certainly, a better off and well-informed gay Indian will now challenge a policeman who tries to lay a charge. But those LGBT Indians who are poor, working class or villagers are less likely to contest the enforceability of the law.

Third, the ruling leaves untouched the more basic challenges facing India’s LGBT communities. In particular, the ruling does not recognize India’s LGBT communities as legal persons who can claim basic rights or freedoms as any other Indian. It has brought India’s LGBT persons out of the shadow of criminality, without making them persons under the law.

If anything, the Supreme Court ruling stands for the same principle that Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made back in 1967 that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Tushar Mehta, the Assistant Solicitor-General for the Government of India, has otherwise made it clear that the Government of India will construe the ruling narrowly so as not to accord legal status to the LGBT citizens of India in terms of marriage, property rights, government benefits or inheritance.

India’s LGBT communities have just won their first battle against the state, but their war for recognition as equal citizens under the law has yet to begin.

The Gay Faqir

shahhussain.jpg
Shah Hussain was a gay Punjabi poet of the 16th century. His love for a young man, Madho Lal, is legendary. Shah Hussain and Madho Lal are buried side by side at Shah Hussain’s shrine in Lahore. They are known to eternity as “Madho Lal Hussain.”

When I read Shah Hussain for the first time, I felt like I was looking back at myself five hundred years ago. Reading his work, as a gay Punjabi-Canadian man, gave me a sense of pride and belonging to a culture I’d long grown alienated from. I was then recently put off to see Naveed Alam trying to deny Shah Hussain’s sexuality in Alam’s introduction to his translation of Shah Hussain’s verse.

According to Alam, Shah Hussain couldn’t have been gay, because:

  1. Shah Hussain’s poems make no overt references to homosexuality;
  2. Shah Hussain’s love for Madho Lal was platonic;
  3. Shah Hussain wrote in the feminine voice in keeping with Sufi tradition (where God’s devotee refers to himself in feminine terms).

Alam’s first point makes no sense. He claims that a poet like Shah Hussain cannot be gay unless he overtly expresses his homosexuality in his poetry. By this logic, a poet cannot be heterosexual either unless his heterosexuality is overtly expressed in his poetry.

In any case, Shah Hussain probably didn’t express his sexuality overtly in his poetry for good reasons.

According to the platonic love theory, Shah Hussain and Madho Lal were master and disciple respectively and their love should be seen in that context.

The problem is that there is no proof that Madho Lal (a Hindu Brahmin) was even a follower of Shah Hussain or that he was part of a Sufi order. In fact, had Madho Lal been a disciple, then it would’ve been he who was expected to write poems in praise of his master, not the other way around.

Shah Hussain wrote otherwise:

My lover grabbed my arm
Why would I ask him to let go?
Dark night drizzling, painful
The approaching hour of departure
You’ll know what love’s all about
Once it seeps into your bones…
(trans. N. Alam)

Hagiographic accounts also tell us about Shah Hussain’s love for Madho Lal:

When he looked at Madho, he signed painfully and said: ‘Friends, take heed. This boy has set my heart out of control. With one look he has made my heart restless. With one look he has taken away my heart. Taken the life out of my heart, and the soul out of my body. What should I do, friends? What should I do to make him fall in love? Friends, I’ve become a prisoner of his love. I shall not find peace till I see him” (Haqiqat al-Fuqra (‘Truth of the Saints’), c. 1660).

In another account, one of Shah Hussain’s followers spies on Madho Lal Hussain:

You [Hussein] are taking a glass of wine from Madho and kissing Madho on the forehead and the Madho is also kissing Hussein’s forehead … Madho again gives a full glass to Shah Hussein, stands and greets him respectfully. Hussein also gets up and greets Madho respectfully. The two friends remained busy in this matter, and kept kissing each other like milk and sugar … and then the two friends become one.

As for the feminine voice, Shah Hussain uses it even when not speaking to God. Shah Hussain refers to himself in feminine terms when sitting at the spinning wheel, taking part in women’s folk dances and sharing secrets with his girlfriends. This feminine voice is Shah Hussain’s soul speaking as a gay man.

In Shah Hussain, Punjabi and Pakistani gay men can hear their own voice, songs and verses singing back to them. The light and passion in his poems is smothered by people foisting their own culturally acceptable interpretations onto it. Shah Hussain’s love for Madho Lal comes alive when we embrace it fully for what it is.

Meet a Peoples’ Poet Laureate – Baba Najmi in Surrey July 7

Baba Najmi, a Pakistani Punjabi poet who has gained the stature of a Peoples’ Poet Laureate in the Punjab, is visiting the Diaspora this July.

Baba Bashir Husain Najmi was born in Lahore in 1948. He has published three poetry books: ‘Akhran Wich Samundar’ Ocean in Words (1986), ‘Sochan Wich Jahan’ World in Thoughts (1995) and more recently, ‘Mera Naan Insaan’ My Name Human. He is a labourer, a trade unionist and a poet who distinguishes himself from others by challenging regressive laws, rules, cultural values and political entities. He is revered by many Punjabis in India, Pakistan and the diaspora. He has won many award. A statue of him has been installed in Jalandhar to recognize his poetic peace efforts between India and Pakistan. Visit Baba Najmi’s Facebook page: facebook.com/PoetBabaNajmi. Below are the details of his July 7th appearance in Surrey

Beyond the boundaries; An event with Great poet Baba Najmi
When: SATURDAY. JULY 7, from 1.30 – 4.30 pm
Where: Crossroads United Church 7655 – 120 St, Delta, BC
Tickets: Only $10.00

Organized by
The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC), Vancouver Chapter.

Program presented in Association with
The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature, Centre for India and South Asia Research UBC and Tarksheel (Rational) Society of Canada.

Supported By
Indo Canadian Workers Association (Brampton & Vancouver), Punjabi TV Show, ‘Mehak Punjab Di’, Progressive Arts Club, Surrey.

Facebook event page
facebook.com/events/

For more information and RSVP, contact:
Saif Khalid at 604-889-0233
Avtar Gill at 604-728-7011

Additional Events: Updated July 4, 2018

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