Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sikh documentaries...

1) Khalsa: A historical film in Punjabi with English subtitles. A humble tribute to all Guru Sahibaan & Great Sikh Martyrs who laid their lives for the principals of Sikhism and to protect the self-respect of Humanity
2) The inseparables: documentary about the relationship of a Sikh with his turban from an historical and religious perspective
3) Prakash Sri Guru Granth Sahib: a documentary film about the uniqueness of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
4) My Mother India: a powerful tale of love and hate, exile and belonging, loss of identity and return of faith
5) Kaya Taran: Sashi Kumar explores the consequences of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots at the individual and social levels through the prism of Gujarat 2002
6) The Sikh Next Door: this short film is a video resource that demonstrates the bicultural lives of Sikh Americans and engages students in a discussion about multiculturalism
7) Continuous Journey: A beautiful essay by Candian filmmaker, Ali Kazimi, that unravels the complex and neglected story of the Komagata Maru and how a ship with 376 mostly Sikh immigrants from India was turned away by Canada in 1914
8) Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters): Pakistani filmmaker, Sabiha Sumar, tells the tragic story of a Sikh women left behind in Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947
9) Blade Battle: A stylistic rendition of the Sikh martial art, Gatka, in this short film by Canadian Pardeep Singh
10) Divided We Fall (Work In Progress): Valarie Kaur will present on her project to document the impact of 9/11 on the lives of ordinary Sikh-Americans
11) India: Who Killed the Sikhs?: An Australian documentary investigating the extra-judicial killings of Sikhs in Punjab during the 1980's and early 1990's.
12) Final Solution: This film by Rakesh Sharma is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during 2002 and 2003, the film examines the phenomenon of organized violence against minorities in India
13) Legend of Malerkotla: A Tale from the Punjab - Filmmakers Iqbal and Anu Malhotra examine a small town in Punjab, Malerkotla, where Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have lived in harmony for over five centuries.
14) Naam: Canadian filmmaker Pardeep Singh takes us on a spiritual journey to connect with the concept of Naam in this short film.
15) Punjabi Cab: Filmmaker Liam Dalzell looks at the harassment that Bay Area Sikh taxi drivers have endured since 9/11 and their resilience in overcoming these hardships.
16) Sewa: From Paris To Tapovan - Filmmaker Reema Anand tells the inspiring story of Sardar Bhagwant Singh Dalawari who has spent the last 25 years caring for leprosy patients in small village called Tapovan after a career as a Indian Foreign Diplomat serving across Europe and Africa.
17) Sikh, Rattle & Roll: For Jas a big day is approaching which marks his passage into adult life, but his friend's jibes and remarks have made him fearful and apprehensive about his new identity. How will Jas relate this new look to his friends and his love for Elvis? A short film by Ekta Walia.
18) Sikh Street: Documentary charting the cultural impact on a typical English street over time as more Sikh residents move in over a half-century.
19) Sikhs And The City: This BBC documentary offers a rare and entertaining portrait of one of Britain's biggest, but least understood, faith communities. It's actually a day-in-the-life snapshot of Britain's Sikhs, as they celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib.
20) Turning Points: Storming The Temple: This piece by Christine Nielsen is a poignant study of the events that led up to the infamous massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in 1984. The documentary examines the cultural tensions that existed in India in the early 1980s and it probes the concept of violence cycles.
21) Unheard Voices of Punjab: Filmmaker Harpreet Kaur presents a documentary about the victims of Punjab who share personal encounters that they faced during the years of turmoil in Punjab
22) Amar Khalsa: The movie offers an insight into the mind of the 10th Sikh Guru who laid the foundation of the Khalsa to fight the evils and secure dignity of life.
23) Dharam di chaddar (The sheet of religion): project is an attempt to show a true picture of the circumstances in 1695 AD, leading to the sacrifice of the Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hard 2 B+

I know this episode is not the first one in line of world tragedies, but today especally I can't stop thinking as to why is all this happening? Tsunami destruction affected such a big part of the world. Then Katrina, now Rita and Opehlia. I mean where is this going? My little cousin asked me if people can't stop it: big engineers, people in weather departments, politicians... It took me a while to explain him that these are natural disasters and humans don't have the power to undo His plans. Mom and me were discussing about it and we were discussing the possible "why" behind all this. And she came up with is that prayer has decreased in today's world. The number of people that take time out of their busy lives has shrinked innumerably. She said people should get together and strongly pray. She told me of times in her village when there'd be no rains and how people did "yag" (sacramental paraying sessions) to ask God to bless them with rain. I know to us, the very advanced beings in the time of 21st century this seems ridiculous, but it nevertheless saved the day of those farmers whose lives depending on proper rains. I think it is time we all pray. We are not that busy. Just our priorities have changed. If you stumble on this psot, make sure to take a sincere moment to ask Waheguru to save the lives of all in danger.

*Sarbatt ka bhala*

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Don't let it die!

It is not death that is the tragedy of life...
[but] what you let die when you are alive.
- Robert Muller
When they are young, most people have a genuine desire to serve the world, to selflessly contribute to humanity's future and to the future of all sentinent beings. Yet many become disillusioned with age and give up on their earlier desire. They settle for something less, like simply achieving the American dream. That dream isn't bad; it's just not enough to realize our potential as spiritual beings. Such persons let their purer desire die, and all the good they might have accomplished dies with it. Some people never surrendered their heartfelt passion to serve, to make a difference, and they usually succeed in birthing an optimistic vision of the future. Let us all nurture, cherish, and guard the integrity of our intention to give ourselves to the demands of the future, rather than to the limited goals of materialism. Let us encourage our deepest, purest desires.
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p.s.// "Choice, the problem is choice!!" Almost all who have watched The Matrix, realize the significance they drop on "choice". Not just that, each one of us go through that struggle on a daily basis. There are other sayings which claim: "If you do no settle for anything but the best; you most often get it." Then there are others which stress on compromise. This becomes a tough choice: when to compromise and when not to. And the decision we make, decides which desires die and which survive and end up making our identities.
Waheguruji, help us all and give us summat to make tough choices more easily!!!
SaTnAm WaHeGuRu!

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Dixie Gurughar

This is the Dixie Gurudwara :) Welcome aboard!


This is the entrance of the main hall. There are stairs that lead to this pedestal from all sides. It looks pretty neat, but I couldn't capture that in my camera :(
There was this babaji who was doing Katha and his topic was maaya. His apporach was quite interesting and he was a good orator. One of the things that I do remember is that he said that Maaya is not always bad. The maya that we attain from 'dassan naauhan di kamai', the fair, honest earnings of an individual are fair and good. And it remains so until the person does not prioritize them before the Guru.

These pictures are really late in the evening. I couldn't get proper pictures for the exterior of the gurudwara, so I did try to go earlier the other day :)


I think this picture is the one for the extended hall. So, this might have been on either a Tuesday or the weekend. Tuesdays adn Fridays, the Akahand Kirtani Jatha people do Waheguru naam simran for about 2 hours, non-stop. It is amazinggg!!!
There were so many Raagis and they did such wonderful kirtans. It's been so long since these trips to the Gurudwara, that now I dont remember which kirtans they were doing. But definitely, it was chardi kala!!

The Power Room!!!

The Power Room, is what my sister call it!!!
This is the room at the second floor in Dixie Gurughar where all SGGS's Bir's are resided. Such is the mahima of this room, that it is a world of spirituality, goodness and blessings in itself. I was lucky to visit it once. My sister goes to matha tek everyday. So, when she used to be late from work...around midnight, she'd just go there. I love this place.

SAtnam Waheguru!!!!! SAtnam Waheguru!!!!







The Langar Hall: Dixie Gurughar

Langar: Langar is the term used in the Sikh religion for the free, vegetarian-only food served in a Gurdwara and eaten by everyone sitting as equals. The practice was introduced by Guru Nanak Dev Ji to break the caste system that was prevalent in India during the 13th and 14th centuries.
This practice is one of the Pillars of Sikhism and symbolizes the desire of Sikhs to eradicate hunger. The Sikhs are encouraged to donate ten percent (daswandh) of their wealth, time, or resources to a worthy cause, of which Langar Sewa is one.
At Langar, only vegetarian food is served. This is done to ensure that all people, with whatever dietary restrictions (for example, Muslims, Jews, or Jains), will feel welcome to eat as equals.
(This information and my introduction is taken from Wikipedia:)

This is the main Langar Hall @ the Dixie Gurughar.
This is the alternative Langar Hall, which is smaller in size as compared the the first one. But on its own, has a good seating capacity. Usually chaa and snacks are being served in this area. But now when I notice, it is langar being offered. So I guess the bigger/main Langar Hall is used over the weekends. And yet these places are occupied to the max. That is the sifat of this Gurughar. With Waheguru's mehar, this Gurughar is always stocked with Saadh sangat :)
The bibiyan doing the sewa of preparing the Langar. I don't remember the exact time we went, but the main Langar Hall was not occupied (as shown above). I am not sure why...
The sew for doing the dishes is usually done by men. I am not sure why that is so. But that's just my observation. I'm sure, however, that there is no major reasoning line behind these gender division in sewas :)
This is the beautiful picture in the Langar Hall. I know it is digitalized. But its impression is so serene and calm...it's amazing.

The Gatka

A little introduction about Gatka: It is the martial art of the Sikhs. Our Gurus started it to defend the Sikhs from the atrocities of others and to protect people from other religions as well.

My dad was a Gatka champion for almost a decade:) When I visited the Khalsa College of Amritsar, they still portray pictures of him with his accomplishment :D:D (I'm so proud of him:)

I was lucky to find an informal Gatka competition happening @ this gym @ Dixie Gurughar. Well, this hall is the home for a lot of sports activities that happen on a regular basis. About a few months ago, Sikh youth was allowed to use it for as long as they desired, even very late at night. But after the incident of theft of one of the Golaks, the Gurudwara committee dragged every one under the suspicious eye and set time restriction on the usage of Gurudwara properties and amenities.
This Bibi was assigned the task of Nagara (I think that's what it's called). And she was doing a pretty good job creating the gush od adrenaline in the participants as their points went up and down. Oh that reminds me that although all the participants were men. The judges for their performances were 3 Sikh women. And you can see their heads over the drum :)
There were a few spectators. I think, mostly families of the participants. But it was still interestign to watch the seriousness of the sport and the participants.

I know the pictures aren't clear. But these were all motion shots and I aint that brilliant a photographer neways :P

Friday, September 16, 2005

~frustrated with school~

"VOUS POURRIEZ ENTREPREDRE ET FINIR N'IMPORTE QUOI."

Thankyou Waheguru! This is all I needed to hear from you. Thank you for slipping it in my fortune cookie today :D:D

I know I have not gotten the chance to update my blog. That is cuz I'm so worked out with my program of study and cuz of incomplete transfering of credits from my last university. Anyhow, I reallllllly want to get into this minor in French...but all the classes are full :( :( I really hope everything works out. Waheguru mehar!!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Incomplete

Well, my laptop is running out of battery and so rest of the Dixie Gurudwara pics later...

The Dixie Gurughar - Library

WeLcOmE the seekers of knowledge and truth...
This picture is from the other night. This library is usually packed, with Waheguru's mehar!
Both the sevadars for the library were very kind and helpful. We discussed the different translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and also they found me a very old (almost torn apart) copy of 'His Sacred Burden' - a book on Bhagat Puran Singh ji: my Ideal man!! Waheguru!!
This is one of my favourite libraries among all the Gurughars. You can watch Sikhi tapes, DVDs, listen to CD's of Gurbani, read a large variety of books and aalso has personal space for saying your paths quietly.
In children's section...
These bed time story books were a delight. I didn't know there were books for the kids that taught them about Sikhi in such fun ways...I always inspired to do something similar for my kids at least. This also reminds me of one of the posts on Gurumustak ji's blog where this woman tells stories to kids in Espanola. I think this is the most wonderfully apt method of education for the kids.
There are about 4 of these cement lions around the Gurudwara. People who like kids should seat themselevs around here. These spots are stocked with cuteee kids playing with these cemented kings. It's always fun to join them :P

...and so I made spontaneity my cup of tea :P

I was suppose to attend a friend's baby shower on Saturday and before that complete my photoshoot (:P) for Dixie Gurughar. Instead I ran into a friend who was visiting the HarbourFront, downtown for the new cruises that started recently for the Fall. Yes, I hopped on. It was fun though. And I love water, waves and the wind. It was getting dark...and we yet had to make it to the suburbs for the baby shower...:) But here is yet another unplanned evening...
This is the city side, which was intially covered by factories. This area, lemme think, till the '70s was the most polluted area in Toronto. It was life endangering for the people who worked in those factories. Eventually, the TO govt decided to redo the whole harbour and removed all industry from this place, except one. When these apartment buildings were made, no one wanted to buy them. They literally sold for nothing. Today each apartment here has a price in million...yep!
This is the only factory existing today in this locality. If I remember clearly (which is only if I heard clearly :P), this factory makes purified sugarcane juice. And they say that the water used in this distillery is purer than the purest form of water, which is rain...(Although i wonder then, that rain is not the purest most neways...so why the title?)


This is the main club house .
There were some farm houses on the farther end....with sheep!! See although this side is incredible, the people living in this locality (island, to be precise :P) are at a great disadvantage. During winters (And you know the winters of Toronto - horrible, snow covered) only one ferry goes to and from the island per day. This is TOUGH! And there is a lack of amenities on this beautiful yet poor island. The convenience store is really small and no grocery stores available. No one on this island is allowed to keep a vehicle, except the priest who is too old to ride a bike..:) Also, no one is allowed to rent/lease these houses for summer or winter whatever. The government was going to take over the place when they signed the agreement, that the inmates of this island, shall live in these hosues throughout the year (that's mean) and no one can buy these houses. You can only own them if you inherit them!!! Not fair I tell ya!
These were the gardens at the other end. Since I joined at a wrong time, we were not allowed to get off the cruise. Otehrwise, you have the option of staying back in these gardens for the whole day. However, we were on the last cruise of the day...so:(
We came across this wonderfully intricate birdhouse. Kudos to the builder of this. **muah**

Once we were back at the docks. I like this picture.




I needed better pictures of the skyline.
The building behind is what looked to be made of white gold, which now to me appears more like an ice cube (where are my glasses?? :P)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

why I love you so...

I have not worshipped God from fear of his fire,
nor for love of his garden,
so that I should be like a hireling;
rather, I have worshipped him
for love of him and longing for him.

- Rabi'a al-Adawiya

Rabi'a al-Adawiya of Basra (d. 801), a Sufi and one of the early women in Islamic mysticism, identifies the motivation that characterizes the true Sufi, the geunine mystic of most tradtitions. One follows the Divine not out of fear, or a desire for the rewards of paradise, but because one is in love with God and is impassionaed with his presence everywhere, especially within. Only the pure motive moves the Divine, and only such an intention marks the authentic mystic. May we each strive for such purity of motive and the single-minded determination revealed by the sage of Basra.

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p.s.// I don't know if others might have had similar experiences. But I feel that Sikhism is one religion which does not run on the wheels of fear. I don't come across Sikhs who pray for the fear of the wrath of Satguru if they don't pray. I think this is incredible. I guess our Gurus never instilled that concept in our making. However, praying without the expectation of rewards is yet to be witnessed. I know there are a very few who don't pray just to ask for Waheguru's gifts, but for his general mehar. Waheguru is so kind, he blesses us all without exception with almost anything and everything that each one of us needs.
Love Waheguru!!!

No middle man :)

"there's god and then there's you. and that's Sikhi...no middle man!"

Friday, September 09, 2005

AMU - withinsanity (with insanity/within sanity - you can be the judge of that)


Shonali Bose, a writer-director, has made her debut feature film, 'Amu'. This movie is related to the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi, India, in response to the aftermath of Operation Bluestar. "The Operation Blue Star (June 4 to June 6, 1984) was the Indian military operation at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, the holiest temple of the Sikh religion. The declared purpose of the Operation was to flush out Khalistan separatists who were using it as a base of operations, many feel that the military went beyond its mandate and destroyed the lives of countless civilians." This definition as precise and shallow is taken from Wikipedia, but the links are available which help discover this episode in depth. After Prime Minister Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards in 1984, carnage erupted in the streets of Delhi. More than four thousand Sikhs were killed in three days. Writer-director Shonali Bose was a student in Delhi during those days. She worked in the relief camps set up after the massacre, writing down the stories of those who survived. Bose brings to the flashback scenes in Amu the intense impact of first-hand experience.

http://www.netphotograph.com/visitors/search/searchimages.zhtml?keyword=10665-&start=0&display=1
There are a few pictures from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on this web site an also on the Wikipedia. I do not have the heart to post any single one of them here. The eyes get flooded with water. Waheguru! And I do not feel like making a debate no more. If you have the heart to, you can use the link. But this is what visual flashbacks do – tear your heart open and fill contempt, hatred and endless pain in there. The pain that shall infect a lot that it comes in touch with, but the pain that shall never (sadly) cease to exist.

I have not watched the movie yet, but there is a lot of thinking which it has already triggered. These thoughts and questions are not new. I think of them often, especially every time I watch the Gurudwara walls covered with the posters of insane bloodshed and cruelty. Also when every time we hit war; we watch the movies of the partition, the holocaust, the ‘84 Bluestar brutalities @ Amritsar, the ’97 Kargil war, 9/11 attack, Iraq, Lebanon etc. even today. But Iraq/Lebanon, 9/11 stories are recent. It is not history yet. My concern is about history. I must state that this is an EXTREMELY sensitive issue and I clearly do not have a stand on this controversy, if others may see it as one. I am deeply divided at the root of this debate. But I will still try to unleash all the thoughts and maybe be able to derive some conclusions on the basis of that, which might help me formulate my thinking structure, or see its true foundation…

These are my debates:
Is it right to keep refreshing historic catastrophes through media or any other medium of mass awareness?
Is it right to scratch the wounds which with much effort might be on their road to recovery?

"I dont know if I will be able to face watching [Amu] though. Just reading about what happened in 1984, and more recently in 2002, leaves me feeling depressed and full of despair. In fact I find it all so mentally traumatic and horrible. I find it so painful to think of what happened, and the fact that nobody has been brought to justice for these massacres. I find it too painful to contemplate that Indians did this to their own selves. It wasn’t Union Carbide, or the big bogeyman Pakistan, or an Imperial power, but these atrocities were visited upon thousands of innocents by thugs associated with the rulers of India. I hate the bitterness I feel when I think of 1984. So I try my hardest not to think of it. But when I do that I realize that I am in denial, and denial of the horror means it is forgotten, and can happen again."
This response I found from someone who signed himself as ‘Punjabi Boy’ @
http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/000818.html

This Punjabi boy is not one person. I can bet that his account is a minor generalization of the gazillion Sikhs who witnessed these accounts and were partially or directly affected by this catastrophe. I know that this episode left an impact on all the Sikhs, in New Delhi then, the ones in Punjab, or even those all over the world. But the hurt that was refreshed in this Punjabi Boy is rich and intense. It must leave an impact, on him and the others in his life TODAY! Is it fair to have the terrible history repeat itself in one form or another?

There are movies on the partition of India, and without exception, they make ridges in our hearts. I know living divided from your fellow human beings would never have been easy. But consider the multicultural aspect of today’s society. You have people who are Hindus, Muslims, British, [I’m trying to come up with as many as we have hurtful histories with…sorry.] But my point here is that if you leave my mind unimprinted on, then I might love these people around like my own. Then, one day I get to learn of what their ancestors did to mine and I hate them today for that historic past. I am not trying to state that people don’t have the mind to make fine judgments. The problem is the overwhelming impact of watching these brutalities and their automated response, which shall but reflect through our dealings today.

I did try to figure out why people would make these movies and why others would watch it. These are but only a few of the possibly causes that I thought of:
- to honour the memory of those that suffered it
- to provide ourselves knowledge
- to refresh the faded memories
- or even to recreate animosity with fresher energy

Reminding history by repeating it on TV works because of the process of personalization. It makes you sink into the situation and blend the line between reality and fiction, so much so that you feel you are in there. The memories of fire are intense and hot only if it touches a part of your own skin. TV helps that experience succeed. It touches your skin. Most of us are not so rigidly structured as to not allow the surrounding of realism to dissolve. We become them. And then, their pain is real to us. We feel for them. The problem however is that they, who caused this, are no more. But the feelings of hatred we just experienced and learned are raw and boiling to the max. Sadly, these feelings must overflow; and if I after the intense experience cannot target no one with this newly developed rage of mine – I shall but target a small part of my brain. I shall store it in my memory. From thereon, I don’t have much to do with it; my subconscious does. I create barriers. I look for differences between me and “them”. This is one of the cruel, long lasting effects that repeating those painful histories produce in us.

"The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. A nation cannot cross a desert of organized forgetting."
Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter & Forgetting

When I first read this statement from Milan Kundra, I thought I’d be able to find peace on this debate of mine. No! I cannot let someone do this to my Sikhs again! To us again! But wait a minute, this is another problem. Who decides on history? Who declares what history actually is? No one has a virtually infallible information of the past episodes. And even if someone remembers inch for an inch, yet they know only their part of the story and not of others. History is not written by one man. But the coming of several men together for the purpose of portraying history for us can be flying off a tangent. It shall be skewed because of exaggerated emotions and exhilarating past injustice which shall unconsciously be biased and extensive.

What does a mother do when her two sons end up fighting? She definitely does not encourage them to avenge themselves through their kids. She tries to bring them to peace and if that is not possible, she tries to remind her grandchildren of the good will among the two brothers and not about their sad, disastrous end.

David Crabtree, says in the ‘Importance of History’ that “The history taught to our children is playing a role in shaping their values and beliefs – a much greater role than we may suspect.” Does it not make this issue extremely sensitive? Are we sure that we want our kids to be raised in multicultural societies, yet teach them how to hate their neighbours, give them reasons to base their judgments on?

There is a noble and base side to every history. And I am sure no one can disagree with that. We all know that there were countless Hindus in that Delhi of ’84 who helped their fellow Sikhs and saved their lives or supported them, helped them after. Should we not be sharing those stories with our children?

I admit that we cannot forget those that were killed aimlessly, the innocent ones. But who we cannot forget or show forgetfulness is to those left behind; those whose loved ones faced those atrocities first hand, those who sadly survived their loved ones, those who are still waiting for justice, those who do not want your pity, but your acknowledgement that they are aware of how hard life is for them, and how misfortunes couldn’t be averted in their faces.

Some may doubt my love of Sikhism…but when I think/read/see all the tortures taken by my Gurus…I just drift in doubt. Am I suppose to hate the Muslims who betrayed Guru Gobind Singh on several steps and tortured the thousands of kids, along with the innocent Sahibzaades? Or am I suppose to consider them friends for it was a Muslim who Guru Ram Das chose to lay the foundation of the holiest Golden Temple, or Baba Farid ji, along with the several other Muslims whose banis (words) are an integral part of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, or Bhai Mardana, for that matter, who was the infallible companion of Guru Nanak. I don’t know. But I remember the first thing Sikhism and bani taught me: Ek Ong Kaar: God is one. If God is one and He created all, then they are all my friends. They are the sons and daughters of Satguru, both the Muslims and the Hindus (and of course all others). All the Gurujis were the kindest souls on earth – they never hurt anyone, only protected people from getting hurt. I do not have a conclusion for this debate, but I like to see this situation as follows:

If movies are made to remind me of the past, I shall but see it with a skeptical eye, continuously reminding myself of the hidden goodness, the kindness overlooked in that portrayal. History I shall remember, but faintly. I will work hard on a pleasant today. Keep my friends. Make a brighter history for tomorrow.

I shall do my part. For I believe:
"So many gods, so many creeds;
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs."
Ella Wheeler Wilcox