30 September 2007

Burma - Not Myanmar

To our dear friends in the Saadh Sangat,

This is from all three of us collectively, Vini, Suni and Mai.

It has been a part of Sikhi from the very beginning to stand against injustice and fight for the weak and helpless. Today, in Burma, the government are acting in a way we Sikhs can unfortunately relate to, attacking and killing their own citizens. If we on the outside sit back and do nothing, these brave people who are opposing oppression in their country are doomed. There is little that we as individuals can do, but we can all sign this petition (below).

We ask everyone reading this post to please take this one small action.

By the way, the current military government renamed the country as Myanmar. As we do not recognise them as a legitimate government, we continue to call the country Burma.

Much love and hope,

Dharma Kaur Khalsa

Vini, Suni and Mai

Dear friends,

Burma's generals have brought their brutal iron hand down on peaceful monks and protesters -- but in response, a massive global outcry is gathering pace. The roar of global public opinion is being heard in hundreds of protests outside Chinese and Burmese embassies, people round the world wearing the monks' color red, and on the internet-- where our petition has exploded to over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours.

People power can win this. Burma's powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Wednesday, including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers, that will deliver our message and the number of signers. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China's attention. If every one of us forwards this email to just 20 friends, we'll reach our target in the next 72 hours. Please sign the petition at the link below -if you haven't already- and forward this email to everyone you care about:


The pressure is working - already, there are signs of splits in the Burmese Army, as some soldiers refuse to attack their own people. The brutal top General, Than Shwe, has reportedly moved his family out of the country – he must fear his rule may crumble.

The Burmese people are showing incredible courage in the face of horror. We're broadcasting updates on our effort over the radio into Burma itself – telling the people that growing numbers of us stand with them. Let's do everything we can to help them – we have hours, not days, to do it. Please sign the petition and forward this email to at least 20 friends right now. Scroll down our petition page for details of times and events to join in the massive wave of demonstrations happening around the world at Burmese and Chinese embassies.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Pascal, Graziela, Galit, Ben, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team


More On Mr. Jagdish Tytler

This article showed up in The Hindu this bright Sunday Morning:

New Delhi

CBI has lost
credibility after clean chit to Tytler: BJP

Staff Reporter

‘The sentiments of the
Sikh community have been offended’
(*sarcastically*Oh, do tell! Maybe just
the tiniest bit?

president Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that by giving a clean chit to Congress
leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, the Central Bureau of
Investigation has lost its credibility. “The sentiments of the Sikh community
have been offended due to it and people who were waiting for justice for the
last 24 years have been disappointed,” he said.

Stating that “the
Justice Nanavati Commission had also found Mr. Tytler to be the likely accused
person in this case and had asked for lodging a case against him”, Dr. Vardhan
said thereafter he was also been dismissed from the Union Cabinet in 2005.

Following the Commission report, the CBI had lodged a case against Mr.
Tytler in November 2005. “Weak evidence was prepared deliberately so that the
evidence may not stand in court,” Dr. Vardhan charged, adding that “`now the CBI
has decided to close the case it had started”. “The basis of decision is that
there is no sufficient evidence in the cases of the murder of Sikhs, riots and
arson. The CBI has made all the preparations to give Mr. Tytler a clean chit on
this basis. They have deliberately made preparations so that the Congress
leaders may be proved innocent,” he charged.

Describing the development
as “unfortunate”, he said the CBI had lost its credibility . “This is the same
CBI which had given Ottavio Quattrochi, an accused in the Bofors case, an
opportunity to withdraw money from his account and to get away from Argentina,”
he added.
© Copyright 2000 - 2007 The Hindu
My thoughts as I read that, maybe better kept to myself, but surely not my thoughts alone: Where is the spirit of Shaheed Beant Singh and Shaheed Satwant Singh now?

28 September 2007

Yet, Again, Jagdish Tytler Goes Free

The following news story just showed up in my overflowing inbox.

I have often said that I would return to the subcontinent only for one of two occasions: to witness the execution of Mr. Tytler and his cronies or to celebrate the establishment of Khalistan. Unless something wild, weird and wonderful happens, it seems ever more unlikely that anyone will ever see my smiling face in 'India,' ever again. No surprise, of course, but still...

from Sify news

CBI closes anti-Sikh riot case against Tytler

Friday, 28 September , 2007, 22:49

New Delhi: The CBI on day closed a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case against
senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jagdish Tytler saying it was
unable to find witnesses to support its charges against him.

In its closure report filed before a court here, the CBI is understood to
have said that many of the witnesses in the case were either dead or did not
want to testify.

The closure report included the name of late Congress MP Dharam Das

Meanwhile, the agency filed a chargesheet in one of the related cases
in which one Suresh (not Sajjan?) Kumar was accused of inciting a mob against
the Sikhs.
Who are those refusing to testify? And why their refusal? Could it possibly be intimidation of some sort? I want to know.

...And What About His Family?

Our last post was about Shaheed Bhagat Singh, the father of Indian Independence. He is so truly a hero, beloved by the Indian people. Surely his family is honoured and loved as well, eh?

Dear, dear India, she really knows how to treat her heroes and martyrs. Please read this article from the Sikh World News.


I got a couple of e-mails yesterday, expressing disdain at Bhagat Singh's atheism, his cutting of his hairs and his beard, in short, his rejection of Sikhi. For anyone with questions about that, please read this post from bajinder's blog, quotes from a translation of The Autobiography of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh.

And for those who complained that I didn't post that picture of him in disguise in that silly hat, I simply don't like the picture. However, we aim to please, so here it is.

And here is another interesting article about him, focusing on him as a socialist.

27 September 2007

Remembering The True Father Of Indian Independence



Bhagat Singh

Age 20

Bhagat Singh

Age 17

Bhagat Singh

Age 11

Kishan Singh


Arjan Singh


26 September 2007

'The Terrorists' - Where Are They Now?

The Hindu is not my favourite newspaper. Nonetheless, I do sometimes read it. And invariably come away annoyed. This article , The Road Home From Khalistan, showed up in a Google News Alert for 'Khalistan.' It talks about what has become of three Khalistanis in the years since 'the end of the war for Khalistan.'. That is, the taming of the the Khalistan terrorists. This article annoyed me greatly and I'd like your ideas and opinions on this, er, assessment of the situation. Excepts from the story are below, a short bit about each of these tamed 'terrorists.' Please go to the link above and read the whole **[rather biased] article.

Fifteen years ago, Navtej Singh was one of *the Khalistan
Commando Force’s
leading operatives. From 1981 to 1993, the war he fought in
claimed the lives of 21,043 people — 11,594 civilians, 8,003 terrorists, and
1,746 security force personnel. Now, dozens of men like Singh, fortunate enough
to survive the carnage, are attempting to put their forgotten war
behind them, and rebuild their lives. (Italics mine)

Singh joined the KCF as a teenager. His brother had joined the
Khalistan movement soon after Operation Bluestar, in 1984; many of his closest
friends were members of terror groups. “I used to be detained for questioning
whenever anything happened,” he recalls, “and the police would often torture me.
I finally decided to fight.” Read on...

The Truck Driver

On the day Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated, Manjinder Singh Issi was celebrating the sale of his family
harvest with six friends — and five bottles of liquor. He had no idea of the
gathering storm that would, within months, transfigure his life.
Back in
1984, Issi was a student at the Government College in Malerkotla. His family,
which owned a 10-hectare farm near the south Punjab town of Dhuri, supported the
centre-right Shiromani Akali Dal leaders ranged against Jarnail Singh
Bhindranwale’s neoconservative movement. On one occasion, Issi marched to the
Golden Temple in support of the former Chief Minister, Surjit Singh Barnala.
In college, though, he met the man who changed his life: ‘Professor’
Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, a top *Khalistan
Liberation Front
operative ...Read on...

And the third

Soon after Gyan Singh Leel emerged from his 17
years in prison, three of them on death row, he sat with a small group of
friends in Ludhiana, listening to a virtuoso sitar performance. “The one thing I
have ever really wanted to do,” he said, crying quietly, “is learn to play the
Leel was one of a group of young men who, on August 21, 1985, pumped
bullets into the body of the centrist SAD leader, Harcharan Singh Longowal. The
architect of a peace deal with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Longowal was seen by
most in Punjab as the last hope of a peaceful resolution of the conflict — and
by his neoconservative detractors as a traitor. Leel’s bullet, it is believed,
hit Longowal on the chest...Read on...

*If anyone has better links than Wikipedia for these two organisations, I would love to link them. Just let me know. Also if anyone has good links to these gentlemen, I would be most grateful if you would share them with us.

**For those of you that don't know, I use [--] as a devise to avoid the use of expletives. To get the meaning, just substitute the enclosed words with something really filthy.

If you are interested in the establishment of the Republic of Khalistan as a political reality, please read this letter.

18 September 2007

The Will Of God Will Never Take You

I took this poem from the blog, Waheguru Ji. Mr. Singh didn't know who wrote it; I don't know who wrote it, but we assume the Gursikh who wrote would want it to bring comfort to us all.

We think of that time in Delhi in 1984 when we had to keep repeating to ourselves, 'The Hukam of Waheguru,' hold onto our faith and each other and sing and do our best to live as last hours before going home, as we had always been taught, in chardi kalaa.

We find this poem comforting and we hope it also brings you comfort and hope.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the authority of God cannot overrule you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

Top photograph: Bhagat Singh in Prison

All other illustrations courtesy of Simmal Tree

16 September 2007

A Sikhtoon Worth Considering

This seems a bit hard to read, so here's what they're saying:
used with permission

13 September 2007

An Unexpected Encounter

I had not intended to write this particular post - it seems a little self-serving to me - but the people involved, especially the lady, have asked me to, so how can I refuse?

Since the stroke a year ago April, my main source of exercise has been walking, first around the house, then around the block, now around the neighbourhood. I enjoy these walks; aside from stretching my muscles, I have met many of my neighbours, almost all of whom are very nice people.

I have recently had a miserable cold that put me out of commission for a while. About a week ago, I was able to resume my ramblings.

Just down the street from us, a few houses away, a Sikh lady about my age was working in her front yard. I had seen her many times, always wearing a pale coloured salwar kameez and a filmy white chunni, usually on her hands and knees, working in her garden. She had always looked up at me and smiled slightly and nodded in greeting, but had never said a word to me, although I always gave her a 'sat sri akaal.' I wondered if she was mute or maybe just shy of talking to strangers.

This time, she jumped up and was suddenly directly in front of me on the sidewalk, blocking my way. She was tall and looked very strong. Her hoe was in one hand and she had a serious, determined look on her face. I greeted her as usual, 'Sat sri akaal.'

She shook her head and looked directly in my eyes, then pointed at my kara, my hair covered by a scarf, my left waistband and then the front of my stomach. The Five Ks? I guessed at what she wanted. 'Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh.'

She actually grinned.

She led me into the soil in her garden. With the handle of her hoe, she began writing in the dirt: a nine, a lower case t with an off-center cross bar and a fishhook on the end, the same t without the fishhook and an 8 with the top broken.

Everyone knows that I lost my Punjabi in the stroke and along with it, my ability to read Gurmukhi. But I have been working on relearning Gurmukhi, starting with the numbers, so I knew at once what she was saying, '1984,' I said out loud to her.

She smiled briefly, then pointed to her eye and brought her finger down her cheek, then pointed to her heart. The meaning was unmistakable - and painful. I repeated her movements and pointing to the scars on my arm said, 'Yeah, me, too.'

She stared at me for a minute, then in a very small, rusty voice said, 'Mai? Harinder Kaur? Blog?'

I had to make a quick decision. I am very jealous of my privacy and have no desire for anyone to know exactly who I am. But she was clearly my sister and I could neither lie to her nor refuse to answer. I said, 'Yes.'

She looked up, gave me a beautiful, unclouded smile - and burst out laughing.

Immediately, the door to the house opened and a young woman, an older woman, a younger man and a little girl came flying out. The younger woman was screaming, 'Mata ji! Mata ji! Mata ji!' over and over again. She grabbed me and demanded, 'Who are you? What have you done to my mother?!'

'Mai. Harinder Kaur,' the lady said, enunciating very clearly. The whole family burst into tears.

'You don't know, but my mother hasn't made a sound since that night in Delhi. Nothing. We thought she'd never talk again. Maybe even her vocal chords were broken or something.'

I, of course, was astonished. I knew she was quiet, and I had suspected she might be a 1984 widow.

We all went inside where we had juice and biscuits. They explained that they had found this blog on a Google search of 'Khalistan' some time ago and had been following it, as well as my personal blog. Although she didn't talk, this lady read and wrote both English and Punjabi and had told them that her story was like mine in some ways.

Her story is actually much worse. She, her husband and her son were visiting in Trilokpuri visiting on that day and were trapped there. Her husband and son were burnt alive in front of her. She was treated as all Sikh women were there that day and left to live or die, with two shaheeds watching over her. Yes, she saw the shaheeds, too.

I will not tell her story beyond that. Perhaps she will later tell it herself in this blog or better still, maybe she'll start her own blog.

After our talk, I asked them for a promise. 'I can tell you're not,' I said to the man, 'but are you women amritdhari?'

All three said, 'Yes.'

'OK, then, will you promise me on your word as Khalsa, and you, on your word as a Sikh, that you won't tell anybody who I am?'

They didn't want to, but in the end they all agreed. I suggested to the man that, although he was quite handsome with just neck-length hair and a trimmed beard, he'd look and feel a lot better if he joined the rest of his family and took amrit. None of my business, perhaps, but I'm neither shy nor reserved about speaking my mind on this matter. And his wife agreed with me, vigorously!

They wanted to meet Suni and Lilly, who were just a few doors away, but they were as sick as I had been the week before, so that had to wait.

Oh, how did the lady know who I was? After all, she had no picture of me and such descriptions as I have given of myself could apply to thousands, maybe millions, of women. All anybody could get out of her was, 'I had a dream.'

The lady herself has read this and tells me it is accurate, and she has chosen the illustrations.

10 September 2007

I have published my post about September 11 on sometimes - 2, as it would not be appropriate here. I f you would like to see it, please go here. You might also like to read the previous post, where I do mention 1984.

Let us take a minute now to remember our brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, needlessly martyred shortly after the attacks, solely because of his appearance.

05 September 2007

UPDATE - The Sikh Turban - Dastaar

I put this in sometimes - 2 earlier today. Maybe it doesn't really belong over here, but I wanted something in this blog that was possibly a little more uplifting than all the unpleasantness about Ms. Maya. I would invite all our readers to go to the blog mentioned and leave a comment. I'm sure the author would learn how important our turbans are to us, and that they have nothing to do with the British!

I read somewhere recently that 99% of the people wearing turbans in America are Sikhs. I'm not sure who the other 1% might be.

The last thing on earth I had intended to do today was write a post about turbans. However, a Google Alert - Sikh - sent me to a woman's blog talking about the turban pat downs at US airports. It was an interesting enough post, clearly written by a non Sikh who found the whole thing interesting and perhaps a bit novel.

I did a double take, however, when she asserted that the Sikh turban was an artifact of the British Raj, something instituted by the British, to be exact

...the turbans didn't even become standard Sikh-wear until the British were in
and decided that is what Sikhs in their army should

I started to leave a comment, but partway through, I realised I needed more than just a comment. Hence this post.

The turban has always been part of the Sikh bana, from Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who founded Sikhi, through all ten human gurus, culminating, I suppose with the requirement given by Guru Gobind Singh Ji with the founding of the Khalsa in 1699 . All initiated Sikhs are required to keep unshorn hair, that hair to be cared for and respected and kept covered.

For men, t his has always meant to tie a turban, although boys too young to properly respect and care for a turban, as well as sportsmen, often wear a kind of smaller covering called a patka. It is a big deal when a boy first wears a turban, a cause for celebration and partying. ( My own son 's adopting of the turban was rather strange and he really was a bit young.)

Women have usually worn a long scarf called a chunni, although this is changing. Most Western Sikh women generally do wear the full turban, as all Sikh women should; Sikhi makes no distinction between men and women in religious practice and obligations.

I ask you at this point to please visit this link to Sikiwiki, the Sikh on-line encyclopedia. It is a bit long, but well-researched and written and better than I can do here.

One of my favourite Sikh websites, All About Sikhs , has this article about the turban, which begins:

Turban is and has been an inseparable part of a Sikh's life. Since Guru
Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, all Sikhs have been wearing turbans.

This whole pat-down thing is obnoxious and unnecessary. I know my husband Mani would have thought nothing of flattening anyone who had the effrontery to touch his turban. My sister Suni and her husband Amritdeep are currently visiting here in Seattle. They have decided to drive to Vancouver, Canada, when it's time to fly home to Montreal rather than risk having security mess with their turbans.

To Sikhs, this is a very big deal.A Sikh's turban is never a fashion statement. The turban is both sacred and pleasurable to us. I know Mani would take forever - or so it seemed - to tie his. One time I asked him why he didn't hurry it up a bit. He said it was something he enjoyed and loved to linger over, as one would a fine meal. His turbans, at least two a day, were never thrown on the dirty clothes heap, but were always washed separately with great respect.

I grew up with Dad and five of my seven brothers wearing turbans. Even today, a man without a turban looks slightly undressed to me.

Something I have learned recently, on a practical level is that the turban has at least one very desirable physical effect. Since my stroke in April, 2006, I have been plagued with blinding headaches. When I told Suni about that, she tied a turban on me and the headache was gone immediately. Of course, as soon as it's removed, the pain is back. Check me out on this. The next time you get a headache, place your hand very lightly over where it hurts. That slight pressure does amazing things. A turban places that light pressure all over the head.

The first time I tied a turban - I might add, with Mani's help - was in Delhi, when we knew we would be attacked. I was to fight with the men and I needed to look like a boy. First, my chest had to be bound, then I dressed in a blue cholla. Last, we tied the saffron turban on my head. It gave me the kind of courage and confidence that I needed to face what was coming. I knew I could never disgrace the turban I was wearing, as that would be to betray everything I held sacred.

As I see it, there are two problems with wearing a turban. The first is that you'll stand out. For a Sikh that should be no problem. (See my signature at the bottom of this post.*) The second is that you might get taken for a terrorist. I have no cure for that except education. I hope this post has actually educated at least one reader.

I sincerely hope that nothing I have said offends anyone. And as always, if I have made any errors here, I apologise and I would appreciate being corrected. Thank you.

Drawing Courtesy of The Daughters Of The Khalsa



The lady whose post inspired the above wrote a comment in the sometimes - 2, blog. Here is what she had to say:

from the ashes has left a new comment on your post "The Sikh Turban (Dastaar)":

Mai- I'm actually glad you stumbled across my blog and my unusual (for me) post about security and turbans. It was nice to have a Sikh comment on the issue. I'm sorry to have offended you. Believe it or not, I know a little more about Sikhi that your average American (that doesn't take much). I have also in my life been quite respectful to various religions traditions and practices.

It is quite a commitment to wear a turban (or a head scarf, or garments, or whatever) all through one's life, and also difficult, especially when you are in the minority to do so. As you could see from my post, many of my opinions of religion are changing and up in the air right now. I just blurted out my first thoughts on the matter after reading the article. After reading your comments and post, as well as the comments of a couple of my regular readers, I can step back a little and see a different side.

Turbans, as such, are really a harmless side of religion, as opposed to some aspects of religion that can be harmful to some. As, for example, the misogyny and racism in my Mormon heritage. Asking Sikhs to remove their turbans in security checks likely causes more offense than any good would come of it--I find it extremely hard to believe that a Sikh would hide a composite gun in his turban, for example.

For me, my post was essentially about the deference we give religion just because it's religion, and Sikhs happen to be a starting point because the article made me think of it. Since you came by, it became a personal issue, and I thank you for that. Hearing about your BIL and SIL who have to cross into Canada to fly out--that struck me in a way that the newspaper article did not. The US shouldn't be making it harder and harder for Sikhs (and Muslims) to live here; we should be making it easier.

With regards to the history of the turban, I will defer to your knowledge. My comment about the British came from that book I linked. I went to grab my copy of the book so I could quote the part about Sikhs and the British army, but I don't have it with me. What I remember is that turbans were part of Sikh tradition, but that the British instituted it as required wear for Sikh soldiers, and this resulted in a _standardization_.

I could be remembering it totally wrong, of course. I'll remove that sentence from my post. Posted by from the ashes to sometimes - 2 at 9/07/2007 9:56 AM


And while you're at it, check out this story about a Sikh forced to remove his turban and untie his hair PUBLICLY.