29 February 2008

I Wonder As I Wander

A couple weeks ago, when driving home from my routine blood tests, I saw a strange and troubling sight.
The drive from the clinic to our home passes through several heavily Sikh neighbourhoods. I always enjoy seeing the elderly Sikh men out on their daily constitutional walk. Of course it reminds me of my own, much adored Dad who, until a few short weeks before his death walked several kilometres a day! I love seeing these wonderful Babas walking down the street, backs straight, gait certain, turbaned heads held high, usually wearing their kurta pajama, often with gatra visible and kirpan hanging proudly by their left hand. I love the strength and dignity of these men. (I do wish I saw more elderly Sikh women walking either with the men or with each other, though. They are our lovely flowers in beautiful salwar kameez and (preferably) turbans or chunnis. This is a suggestion, ladies, if any of you read this!)
That said, the other day, I saw one such old gentleman striding down the street. But something was terribly wrong. I had never seen such a thing. He wore a gorgeous, perfectly tied, sky-blue turban, but over his dark coat, I could see his long, white hairs, not tied in his turban, hanging to his waist. Something was horribly wrong here. His beard was untrimmed and nicely groomed, his clothes were neat and clean and he was in a state in which no Sikh would ever appear in public.
I yelled at my husband, 'Stop! That man needs help!' But Simon just replied he was late and in a hurry. I fumed, but as it turned out, it worked out for the best.
I sulked all the way home and as soon as the car stopped, I leaped out and ran to our Sikh neighbour's house. She answered the door and, as soon as I explained the situation to her, she grabbed her car keys and we jumped into her car. (I suppose I should explain that I cannot drive as a result of the stroke. Eventually I hope to, but not quite yet.)
We drove to where he had been, but saw no sign of him. We kept looking and eventually found him sitting on a bus bench listening to kirtan on his iPod! He looked perfectly happy and contented, but that hair! We stopped and went to him. We both greeted him with loud Fatehs.
'Eh? Waheguru ji ka khalsa! Waheguru ji ki fateh!' removing the earbuds and looking at us quizzically.
'Are you OK?' I asked.
He looked at me without comprehension. I realised he didn't speak English. Good thing my companion was there, as my Punjabi was lost in the stroke.)
She spoke to him for a few minutes, then he raised his hand and felt the back of his neck, pulling at the exposed hairs. A look of horror came over his face; I thought he was going to cry. Shaking, he reached in a pocket and handed her his wallet. She started to take out her cell phone, when we heard a kirtan ringtone and she reached in his pocket and pulled out HIS cellphone and answered it. It was, of course, his frantic family trying to locate him. After a brief conversation, they disconnected, we gathered the gallant old Singh into her car and drove him home. It was some distance. He had walked over 10 kilometres (6 miles) from his home! He might be old and perhaps a sufferer of Alzheimer's Disease or some such affliction, but he was still strong. In the car, he replaced the earbuds and happily listened to his iPod all the way home.

When we arrived, the whole family came running out, overjoyed to have him returned safely. His wife was crying and tsk-tsking over his hair, while he continued listening to that iPod. We were invited in and treated to some of the best food I've had in a long time.

And, yes, my companion was the lady I had written about in an earlier post.

AFTERWARD: When I got home, my husband was truly annoyed at my refusal to mind my own business and pouted for several days. Suggestion: Marry a Sikh.

25 February 2008

Burning Punjab

This proKhalistan website has been brought to my attention and I would like to share it with my readers. It is called Burning Punjab and is available both in English and Punjabi. Check it out!

24 February 2008

Teach Your Children Well..

Teach your children well,
Their parents' hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

Last Wednesday, as I do every day, I walked out to the mailbox to pick up our snail mail. As is often the case, some young teenagers across the street started making fun of me. I do look a little strange, walking slightly off balance and my semi-paralysed left hand has a tendency to ball up into a fist and that arm hangs a bit funny, not quite natural looking, I suppose. I ignore these rude kids, as usual, but I'm very much aware of them.

That day, though, there were a couple I hadn't seen before, a girl with very long, black hair and a boy with a patka. As I turned from the mailbox to walk back into the house, the girl loudly slapped the patkaed boy and ran across the street to me.

'Ma'am, I'm sorry. They shouldn't be rude like that. It's mean.' Then she very bravely gently took my left hand and held it. Cooties, you know.

'Thank you,' I said, 'That's very nice of you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. But you know, Guru Ji says we should use physical force, only when there's no alternative. You really shouldn't have hit your...brother?'

'Yeah, he's my brother, Steve [Steve? I thought.] Guru Ji?' She gave me that very curious look, grabbed my right hand and my kara fell out of my long sleeve to my wrist. She gasped and then broke out in a huge smile.

'She's one of us!' she shouted across the street and ran back to her brother. 'Sorry I hit you, but you shouldn't be so mean.'

All three came across the street, obviously curious about me. They were full of questions.

'Are you a goreh Sikh? What happened to you, your hand doesn't work too good. Do you hate us for being mean?'

'Not exactly. I had a stroke. No, but you should stop the rudeness.'

I invited them in and offered them some hot spiced milk and cookies (biscuits to you Commonwealth types). How cliche. I told them about my family with the Punjabi Sikh father and the French Canadian mother.

They were fascinated by my eccentric family and they wondered if I had any kids. Without really thinking about the situation, I answered, 'Yes, a son and two daughters, but they're dead. They got killed.'

Instant sympathy as only the very young are capable of followed immediately by curiosity. 'How did they die. Can we ask? Was it a car wreck or something?'

'Or something, I guess. We were visiting in Delhi during the anti-Sikh violence in 1984 and they got killed.'

'I heard something about that, but I don't really know what happened. About a thousand Sikhs were murdered, right? We know it happened, but no one who was there will talk about it. Tell us.'

Suddenly we were in much too deep. I really didn't want to give these innocent - if rude - young kids their first first-person account of this ugliness. There was a naive sweetness to them that I knew my story would destroy. Usually, I feel the need to tell our story, but this time, I was very reluctant.

'How devout are your parents? How much does being Sikh mean to them?'

The boy answered. 'They're both amritdhari. See they don't let me cut my hair.'

'Would you, if they let you?'

'Oh, yeah, all this hair is so dumb. And they're always laughing at me at school.'

That decided me. 'My son, Sandeep, was about your age - you're around 13? - when all this happened. '

The boy coughed. 'I like to be called Steve, but my name's really Sandeep. Like your son.'

'Well, he'd probably still be alive today if he'd cut his hair.' So I told them the whole story. And I showed them what I will not show you, my readers, our pictures. I showed them the formal family portrait we had done before we left for India in April, 1984. They did the obligatory oohs and aahs over how beautiful I was and how handsome Mani and Sandeep were. We really were a good-looking family, if I may say so. Then I showed them the pictures we had taken with our hairs down and open - proof it was unshorn - before we were attacked in Delhi and then the pictures of us in full bana, all of us, even me, with turbans, ready for whatever would happen. They giggled uneasily over that picture.

'You look like people out of an old Sikh history book, like shaheeds fighting Mughuls or something.' Then, very softly from one of the boys, 'I guess you were kind of like them.' Then, 'We need to see the other pictures, too.'

I pretended not to understand, but they persisted. 'The ones your rescuers took. You said you have them.'

Those pictures are graphic and bloody, not things to show these young people. On the other hand, scenes as graphic and bloody are shown daily on CNN and even network news. 'Are you sure you want to see them? They're pretty terrible.' That, of course, although unintended by me,. goaded them on and they insisted they simply had to see them. I have both printed copies and a CD, but I didn't feel like looking at the large pictures on the TV, so I got the prints. I myself rarely look at them; they really are that bad.

It so happened that the top picture was of Sandeep lying on his back, his head at that askew angle. I had, of course, washed all the faces, so at least there wasn't a lot of blood there, although, some had seeped out of his nose after I had washed him. All of them looked at the photo, then at the portrait still on the TV screen, back and forth. None of them had dry eyes. 'Shaheed,' whispered Steve/Sandeep boy. However proud we are of them, I doubt any mother wants that particular word to apply to her child. We give them willingly, when necessary, of course, but...

'I'll never, never cut my hair,' from Sandeep/Steve , loudly. 'Never!' He may change his mind later, but for a moment, at least, he experienced the pride and determination of a Sikh.

We went through the rest; the pictures of me lying across Mani's body clearly upset them. They did comment on how peaceful they all looked. I always have that reaction to these pictures, as well.

Their reaction to the picture of the [person] I had killed surprised me, although I guess it shouldn't have. His face had not been washed; it was covered with blood. His eyes and mouth were open and his throat a gaping mass of dried blood. In contrast to our shaheeds, there was nothing peaceful looking about him. Those unseeing eyes and silent mouth still clearly showed the terror he had experienced at the moment of death. And my new, young friends? They cheered. And laughed. And I didn't stop them. I suppose I should have given them a lecture about how it is a painful thing to kill, even when it's necessary and how death is a tragedy and, you know, all that. But I didn't. I always feel a particular sense of satisfaction when looking at [him] lying there, terrified, helpless, dead.

When they left, I told them I'd really like to meet their parents.

Two days later, I did. A knock on the door and there stood a medium height, rather weathered-looking turbaned gentleman and a diminutive lady in an orange salwar kameez suit, along with the two young teenagers. We fatehed each other quite formally and I invited them in, the woman trying hard not to giggle. I wondered why.

The man was very serious, however, and when we started talking, I discovered that his brother had been killed in Delhi. They had never told their kids about him or what had happened there. I got in the impression that he was glad that had gotten the story from someone else.

Nervously, 'My two reluctantly Sikh children are suddenly talking about taking Amrit. My son, Steve, has become Sandeep and instead of lobbying to hack off his kesh, he wants to tie a turban.. We would like to see these extraordinary pictures if we could, please.'

The wife, able to contain herself no longer, burst out laughing. I had wondered if perhaps she couldn't speak English, but she spoke up, with a perfect Toronto accent, 'I'm sorry, but I thought with the way the kids talked that you'd be at least two metres tall and breathe fire. You look more like one of the gurdwara aunties than like a mighty warrior.'

I laughed. 'You might be surprised at some of your gurdwara aunties.' And she probably would, at that.

I showed them the pictures, first the 'nice' ones, then the gruesome ones. They had the same reaction as their children. 'So sad, but they look so peaceful.'

As they left, they were a little apologetic. 'We should have talked to our children about these things, ourselves.' I could not disagree. Unfortunately, they are just here for a week visiting family and will soon return to Toronto.

'...And know they love you.

Teach Your Children -Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, 1970 is a great song and it deserves to be read by all of you, so here are the lyrics:

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their parents' hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh
and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh

and know they love you.

The picture of the young man is from a SALDEF mailing. I chose it because the young man's new mustache reminds me so much of Sandeep. He was so proud of his - as well he might be. Few young men of 13 have such a nice one.

The bird watching picture is for my readers who love birds. And children. And courage?


20 February 2008

More Laibar and Surinder - The Singhs Move Forward

So much going on right now. I have read in Sify News that Laibar Singh wants to go back to India if he can be guaranteed good medical care there.
Harpal Singh Nagra, President of the South Asian Human Rights group that was at the forefront of the fight for blocking Singh's deportation, said: “Though the CBSA told us last week that they will not enter the Sikh temple, I would now prefer that Singh should go back to India.”

He said: “Singh himself wants to go back if he is guaranteed that he will get the money for his medical treatment in India. We will raise money for him. I think he can get good treatment in India.”
We'll see if and how that plays out.

I read today in the Times of India that they are actually ready to depose Surinder Singh about Mr. Tytler's role in the murders in Delhi in 1984:

Printed from
The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India

1984 anti-Sikh riots: CBI to record Surinder's statement today
21 Feb 2008, 0322 hrs IST,TNN

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates


For Bhai Surinder Singh, a key witness in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case being investigated by the CBI, it's one battle won. The investigating agency contacted Singh's lawyer Navkiran Singh on Wednesday, informing him that his client should present himself in the local CBI office in Sector 30 at 11 am on Thursday to record his statement before DSP SS Kishore from Delhi.

However, there has been no word on Navkiran's other client, US-based Jasbir Singh, who apprehends threat to his life and has refused to come to India.

Both Jasbir and Surinder are witnesses against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who has been accused of leading a mob against Sikhs during 1984 riots. Post the summons, Surinder sounded upbeat but claimed that the pressure was still there on his family in Delhi. "My daughter-in-law is being pressurized to lodge a false case of dowry harassment against me. In return, she is being assured a passage to Canada, where my son and her husband, now lives. We have been trying to send her to Canada for the past several years, but Tytler seems to have had an upper hand." Regarding his plea to the Punjab government to provide him security and means of livelihood since he cannot return to Delhi, adviser to the chief minister, Daljit Singh Cheema said the government "is doing the needful".

On Tuesday, he had told TOI that there had been no positive response from the CBI despite his attempts to contact it in the past one week. Earlier, on February 13, Surinder had reiterated his resolve to give his side of the story after years of "living under pressure and facing threat to life".

So much trouble in the world.

Nothing, of course, will ever make up for what happened in 1984. Justice against Mr. Tytler would be at least some justice. So will we finally get some justice for 1984?

We're waiting.

17 February 2008

Thoughts On Our Kara

Every person I know who calls her/himself a Sikh wears a kara. I know I wore mine through the long years of my exile from the Sangat, even when they tried to forcefully remove at the mental hospital. They could have taken my wedding band if they had wanted that, but not my kara.

When Maman (Vini) visited with me after my twenty years' absence, she brought me a kara from her home in Amritsar. Knowing my taste, she brought a very simple, flat one. No lines, no engaving. Like this one. I exchanged it with the one I had been wearing since 1984 during our battle.

The kara is most decidedly not a magic talisman. It does, however, have power. I cannot tell how many times seeing or feeling my kara, or just knowing it's there, has given me strength and courage to do what I know is right.

In fact, since babyhood, the only time it has been off my body was when I got an MRI - any magnetic metal in the room could screw up the very expensive piece of equipment - and anyway, I was comatose. But I wonder how often we really consider what it means to us. This article appeared in the Gurmat Learning Zone, and since I have permission to republish their articles, here I share it with you

Maybe after reading it, you'll be even more appreciative of the kara on your wrist or arm.


Kara, one of the five kakars of the Sikhs, is neither an ornament nor a tool, but is a blessed gift from Lord, the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh ji.

Alas, this great gift to the humanity has been ignored or has not been appreciated in its true spirit.

Kara symoblises dignity, equality, independence and emancipation from slavery. It can be termed with certainity, whether it is known to the world or not that it is the prelude to the Charter of the UNO or foundation stone of the human rights' movements in the world.

Guru Nanak Dev ji, founder of the Khalsa Panth was born in year 1469 in Punjab, the land of five rivers. Coincidentally this was the year when in the west Machevally was also born.

This was the time when the Indian society was cursed with four divisions on the basis of birth in a particular clan. Vast majority was termed as shudras, or so-called lower castes. The biggest challege of that time with the Gurus was the blood-stained subjugation, torture, humiliation, deprivation of vast majority of the people not on the basis of their ethicity, colour, gender, knowledge, race or region but the birth in the house of a shudra.

         That was the time when the alleged low castes, shudras were deprived from entry or participation the temples of learning, and temples of religious prayers. A human being deprived of these two gifts will become and behave in a manner less than human beings. In olden times the cursed were branded or forced to live in ghettos. Perpetuating and implementing his thoughts, founding father of the socio-religious laws of Hindus, Manu pronounced about the low caste shudras should wear the black-iron ornaments.

Their dress (shall be) the garments of the dead, (they shall eat) their food from broken dishes, black iron (shall be) their ornaments, and they must always wander from place to place. [Manu Smriti - Chapter X, canto 52.]

This was not acceptable and detested to by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev ji. In absolute humility and humbleness, he categorically declared and identified himself with the lowest of the low saying,

                     ਨੀਚਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੀਚੀ ਹੂ ਅਤਿ ਨੀਚੁ  
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਡਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਰੀਸ ॥   
ਜਿਥੈ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਲੀਅਨਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਖਸੀਸ 43
(ਗੁ.ਗ੍ਰੰ.ਸਾ. ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ, :1)

Nanak seeks the company of the lowest of the low class, the very lowest of the low. Why should he try to compete with the great? In that place where the lowly are cared for-there, the Blessings of Your Glance of Grace rain down. 43

(Guru Granth Sahib, Siri Rag, M:1)

This message was carried to its logical ends by the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh when he initiated the Khalsa Panth by bestowing Amrit (nectar). The de-branding the so-called shudras and to bestow divine acceptance to all He directed every Sikh to always wear kara (black iron) bangle like ornament on the wrist.

              Kara thus became a divine hand-cuff reminding the adherant of his obligation to follow the diktats and desist from prohibted commands.

To look for material benefits or comfirts from kara is belittling its true message. Once a student of Khalsa College, Amritsar asked Master Tara Singh, veteran gursikh leader that what is the advantage of wearing a kara. Master Tara Singh replied there is no benefit for you. Shocked student asked, 'and it is beneficial to you?'. Masterji replied in the affirmative.

When asked further Master Tara Singh's reply was terse and pointed. He explained that you are trying to look into the kara that if you wear it you will get some benefits or may get more marks in exams. Nothing of the sort is going to happen. But to me it is a constant and inspirational reminder that those who had this kara on their wrists had their skull ripped off with a chisel, were cut bit by bit, were boiled alive and baked on hot plates. To me this is a reminder that if I wear it I may be blessed this way for my commitment to my Guru. The importance of a Kara on the wrist of a Sikh can be visualised from the following words of a spiritiual philosopher and scientist Prof. Puran Singh.:

"I heard a stupid Sikh preacher the other day, trying to convince a mass gathering of the Sikhs that the iron ring of the Guru worn on the wrist is a protection against lightning. He said, as large buildings are made safe against lightning by a rod of iron, so the Guru has saved man from the stroke of lightning. He was hopelessly flinging his arms up and down to gather some straw of a reason to prove the rationale of the iron ring the Guru gave us as a gift. Coming to us from our personal God, dearer to us than our mother, father, sister or sweetheart, it comes to us as His Gift, as His Blessing, Fie on our manners that we argue over and over about it. He touched my hair and I keep it; when I toss my arm up in the air and the iron ring shines, I am reminded of His wrist that wore it – One exactly like this. Is this arm, by some stray gleam of the iron ring on my wrist, His? Other religions live in an elaborated symbolism; I the Sikh have no religion. He loved me, he made me His own. The sword is the mind where the Guru lives. The iron ring is the sign of His remembrance. The tresses of hair are as clouds round a snow peak – they always gather, gather—they always rain, rain. In my sacred tresses flow Ganga, Jamna and Godavari. Have I got the comb, the Guru gave me? have I got His other gifts? I may have lost them. But I cannot lose my tresses, I cannot lose my iron ring. Because, you remember how He called His disciple Bhai Gurdas from Benaras. The disciples went as bidden and brought him with his hands bound with a string from Benares to Amritsar. Once the call of the Master was answered thus. Each one of us is called. We are of His spiritual militia. We have to wear the ring which is His gift, and we are the prisoners of infinite love. These are the fetters of love, the price of our freedom. Each Sikh wears hair and the beard of Guru gobind Singh. We are moulded in His image."  (Ji, please forgive me for mentioning this, but most women, even Sikh women, don't have beards.)

So kara in the hands of a Sikh is an article of faith and commitment to the society and should be honoured and appreciated like that. It is neither an ornament nor a superstitious symbol. It is certainly a vocal and potent sign of commitment to the human rights of the entire humanity.

-Compiled by Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba
Coordinator, IHRO Sikh Affairs

All pictures except the header are from the Sikh Kara Store on eBay.

16 February 2008

You MUST Go Here!

I have come across a wonderful, beautiful blog. Please go and check it out for yourself. It's called Frontline Punjabi Youth. It is already listed in our links in the right hand column. This particular post is called Attitudes of Sikh freedom fighters in the 1980’s . I'm saying no more because I want you to go look. It really is worth your time.

OK, just one short quote:

Another women , drawing on a historical episode in which Sikh children were
chopped into pieces and woven into garlands their mother had to wear, said of
the potential sacrifice of her children for khalistan,
“I have only two
children, not even enough to make a necklace. If they are sacrificed it will be
our great pride to give back to guru what was his gift to us”.

15 February 2008

A Poem For Suni

A reader sent this beautiful poem in response to Suni's Story with the Shaheeds
For Suni
Whispers in the Night”
Sonnet In Honour of Anhad Warriors
composed by gupt sakhee dassNdaas
Often have i heard Whispers in the Night

softly chorus trilling, calling Your Name

In dark surrounding a Persisting Light

Enthralling, thrilling tongues intent proclaim

Sighing Singing, Pining, for One Beloved

Ceaseless voices overwhelming Rapture

Rent, enticing content to be so loved

Longingly declare in quiet capture

As Gathered lovers enrapture my ear

Rose red, my heart blossomed, listening bled

Glad madness in this unseen sound i hear

Crimson dewdrop tears spilling glistening shed

What ghost's candle is this haunting of mine

Who's flamed tongue’s burn eternal's love divine?

Waheguru ji

14 February 2008

A Simple, Important Sewa

We have, during the time we have been publishing this blog, received many emails of the nature, 'Yes, but what can I do?' Here is something you can do. How about helping a victim of the 1984 Carnage get an education?

FYI: Rs1000 is about $25 (Canadian or US). Please take this to your Gurdwara or other Sikh group. Or sponsor someone yourself! The email address, as below is INFO @gyansewa. com . We all give to charity, here is one to consider that can reap many benefits to the whole community as these children grow up and become productive adults.

This letter came today through the Gurmat Learning Zone.

Manyog Jio,
Gurfateh to you.
I received this mail from a prominent Sikh
in Melbourne which is worth looking at. It is self explanatory and very noble
sewa performed by Sardar HS Phoolka. If anyone is willing to contribute please
get in touch with him. May Waheguru bless us all to do His sewa. Thank you.

Brahmjoth Singh

Is there anyone out there willing
to do a little bit for the sikh panth
please step forward.
If your are
not in a position to do so due to entanglements with your 'mun'
forward this email and give someone else a chance.
"jo tho praem khaelan kaa
chaao sir dhhar thalee galee maeree aao " (If
you desire to play this
game of love with Me,then step onto My Path
with your head in hand). by sri
guru nanak dev ji

JS Uppal

Sardar Ji,
from Sardar HS Phoolka requesting for funds for the above purpose.

Jasbir Singh
"I Am Different"
- My Heritage-My Identity-My Lifestyle

NO. 46543938, 9910143121
Email: Info@gyansewa.com

Respected Uppal

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

I am enclosing herewith a list of 47 children belonging to the
families of the victims of 1984 Carnage. We have already started
scholarship to these children from month of January 2008. I
would send you
their scanned Form later. To some of these children we
are giving
scholarship since April 2006.

We propose to pay them scholarship Rs.
1000/- per month to per
children, which means Rs. 12,000/- for the whole

For the time being out of these children we have started paying
1000/- to 17 children and Rs. 500/- to other 30 children. But from
the month of April we are following the policy that children who get
more than 60% marks, would be paid Rs. 1000/- and the children who get
between 50% to 60% marks would be paid Rs. 500/- each month. No
scholarship for children who get less than 50%.

Kindly inform me
that how many children you and your group can sponsor
so that I can assign
that number of children to you.

There are many other eligible children
but we will add more in the
number as and when sponsors come forward to pay
the scholarship.

I may clarify that all the children in the present list
are not
assigned to your group and we will furnish the detail of assigned
children to you, after we get confirmation from you.

We have already
started paying scholarship to them and hence the
sponsor would also have to
pay the scholarship from January 2008


Brahmjoth Singh

13 February 2008

A Valentine For Our Readers From All Of Us

This blog has often highlighted the dark side of our human existence during this Kalyug. Reading here, you have been exposed to murder of various sorts, mayhem, torture, genocide, war and all the effects of the evil around us.

Today, I am setting all that aside and sharing with you a Valentine correspondence I have received. On one level, Valentine's Day is not a Sikh celebration. But on another level, is not our religion, our panth, our whole way a life a celebration of Vaheguru Our Husband, and His Love of each of us as His Wife? The ultimate romance.

I sent this to a cyberfriend, in fact a reader of this blog:

This is someone's signature at the Sikh Philosophy Forum. It reminded me of you!

ik®pw jlu dyih nwnk swirMg kau hoie jw qy qyrY nwim vwsw ]4]1]7]9]
Bless Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, with the water of Your Mercy, that he may come to dwell in Your Name. 4179

She responded:

Thank you for this lovely and delicate line of gurbani. A thirsty song bird... singing and singing her whole life a song in the midst of all of her daily tasks, perhaps THE song of remembrance, though she is unsure because even though she has a good heart, she is enamored and distracted by the battles around her... the daily struggle to find worms for the family, the difficulty to find soft straw light enough to carry to fit into her nest, the rivalry between her own bird clan vs the other bird clan, the constant guard against the larger predatory animals intent to eat her and her family for sport ... these are the distractions which sometimes inform her simple song... and now her throat is scratchy, needs something soothing, and beyond that, needs something nourishing... and for relief she goes to the cool pond...for a drink of the true enlightened salve, the true comfort of the Guru's philosophy and name. Waheguru...

I sent her response to the person who had originally used it. She responded:

Yes, the thirsty song bird is forever searching for just the right straw and for worms that her "young" will accept. And yesterday she was indeed fighting another bird clan, and she will again tomorrow--- As it is His hukam.

But she finds shelter and protection in the mango tree -- which is so immense that most of it she has not yet explored.

The signature line comes from Shabad Hazare. Who cannot find bliss in the hymn of Sohila -- that is an understatement. Everyone
loves that Shabad. But Shabad Hazare? That is where the songbird lives

I have not asked for permission to blog these, as I usually do, but I can't imagine anyone objecting.

Happy day of romantic love to all.

Husbands, please find a special way to show how dear your wife, your life's companion is to you, especially on this day, but not just for this day, every day and always. Wives, that applies to you as well. Please let him know how dear he is to you.

And if she and/or he isn't all that dear, may I suggest you work on it? Both of you.

Love and Chardi kala!



11 February 2008

Birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale Khalsa Ji

I saw this picture and find it both beautiful and compelling.

I hope you love it as I do.

As usual, I am at a loss as to what to write about one of our great martyrs. What is there to say about him that hasn't already been said? That [Indira Gandhi] thought to use him as her tame Sikh and discovered that there are no tame lions? (I heard that the other day, and it gave me a smile!)

In my research, I happened upon this tribute by D S Gill of the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) of which I am a member. It inspired me and I hope it inspires you!


A Tribute to saint-soldier

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale (1947-84)

On his birth day, February 12

Religion and politics are inseparable and synonymous in Sikhism. This
concept is a great contribution of Guru Hargobind Sahib to Sikhism. We are
considered anti-national. We wish to live in India, but are the Government
of India prepared to keep us in India? We want to live in India as
first-rate citizens, which, as at present, we are not. We would like to live
on par with other citizens, rather than slaves. As we made 90% sacrifices in
the freedom struggle of the country, we are not prepared to live like
slaves. Now it is for the Centre to state whether it wants to keep us as
slaves or as equal citizens. I am opposed neither to Khalistan nor in favour
of it. It is for the government to decide whether it wishes to keep us in
India or concede Khalistan. We will accept it; we will not repeat the 1947
blunder. My mission is to ensure that every one- Hindu, Sikh, Muslim remain
true to one's religion, and there is unity among all sections of people,
that the modesty of woman is not violated, that all social evils are
eradicated. For all this, I am dubbed as extremist. And, I do not mind being
known as extremist; rather I am proud to be such an extremist. This is what
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale had said at different times during Dharam
Yudh Morcha (1982-84) and it has been reported in the SGPC White Paper, 1996
(Truth About Punjab). But on June 3, 1984, when the Golden Temple was under
the siege of the Indian Army, Sant Bhindrawale did say unequivocally 'now we
can not live in India: 'We need a separate home.' Earlier too, he had
expressed and repeatedly said that the day the Indian Army attacked the
Golden Temple and Akal Takht, foundation of Khalistan would be laid, A R
Darshi says so in his renowned book, Bhindrawale the Gallant Defender

And now, to carry forward the mission of Sikh Guru- fully enshrined in Sri
Guru Granth Sahib, as envisaged from Akal Takht, the glorious history of the
Sikhs and its recent propagation by the Sant- we in International Human
Rights Organisation propose the formation of a united front (third front) to
all those opposed to the crafty politics of the so-called traditional
Akalis, now largely led by Badal. And all those groups and individuals who
distance themselves from the legacy of the Rajiv-Longowal Accord should
co-operate, co-ordinate and actively participate in the proposed Panthic

And they should have commitment towards the two historic documents- Amritsar
Declaration and Anandpur Sahib Resolution, with an endeavour for fulfilling
the spirit behind these documents and the Sikh litany Raj Karega Ga Khalsa.

We in IHRO will appreciate if the interested groups or individuals could
pool their efforts to for doing Sarbat Da Bhala (Welfare of all) and, thus,
proving that Raj Karega Khalsa, Aaki Rahey Na Koi (when Khalsa rules, no one
remains in distress) and making this mission a success. So, the Guru Panth
has to project only the Khalsa polity.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a perpetual Guru (Guide) and a model for truthful
living: ''Falsehood will perish, O Nanak, and truth shall prevail,
ultimately.' They should start afresh and stick to a new revolutionary
ideology aimed at the spiritual rejuvenation, moral uplift and social
emancipation of people, confronting the dogmatism and religious hypocrisy of
the priestly classes and challenging the religio-political oppression of the
contemporary leaders.

t is a good beginning that Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president
Simranjit Singh Mann, Shiromani Khalsa Dal president Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu
and Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, on February 12, the
birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, at Fatehgarh Sahib, announced to
carry forward the message of Bhindranwale to meet the aspirations of the
people of Punjab with a firm faith in justice and peace. For this, they
should put into practice the idea of collective leadership (Panch Pradhani)
at the gross root level along with the concept of selection, propagated and
practised by the Gurus and, thereafter, to sift out meritorious servers from
amongst them.

And they should strive to guide public opinion by propagating rational and
constructive views on Sikh Polity and human rights, including the right to
self-determination by virtue of which nations and peoples regain their lost
countries, maintain their cultural identity, and establish basic human and
economic rights. They should also co-operate and co-ordinate all political
and other groups in Punjab who categorically distance themselves from the
legacy of Rajiv-Longowal Accord and make commitment to secure socio-economic
and political justice and the dignity of the individual. In addition, on
that basis, combat racism and eradicate untouchability, castes and

Will they be able to do all that, is no one's assurance because all the
splinter Panthic groups have a problem of being threatened or highjacked
from each other. Smaller the group, graver is the problem. Ideologically,
politically or commitment-wise, there seems no difference or contradiction
among them to unite for the mission of the Guru. There may be some
organisational or day-to-day working problems that may be sorted out by
sitting together. Problem, which may crop up in the process of uniting, is
of leadership. For some time, collective leadership may the best choice.
But alas, petty vested interests with little uncanny personality cult seem a
big hindrance in forming the United Front to lead the Panth. We do not know
why they get together to celebrate birthday of great Sant Bhindranwale if
they cannot get on for his mission. May God bless them with politically wise
minds! d_oh.gif

D S Gill

Chair IHRO


So Much Trouble In The World

Vaheguru! So much evil in the world! So much injustice! So much unnecessary pain, suffering, inhumanity! What is one human being to do? How many worthy causes are there out there in Maya? How can I pick and choose what to bellow and howl about.? Sikh things, Sikh causes, of course. But what constitutes a 'Sikh cause'? What injustice does not constitute a 'Sikh cause'? Picking and choosing is so very difficult!

I remember back in the 1960s a newspaper - maybe it still exists, I'm not sure - called The San Francisco Bay Guardian. On its masthead was the line, It is a newspaper's duty to print the truth and raise hell. Me, too. That is what I try to do. One voice. I hope with an added voice or two. I remember a poem:

Only we two
And yet our howling can encircle the world's end
Frightened, you are my only friend.
And, frightened, we are everyone.
Someone must take a stand.

Me, frightened? Of course not! Mai is never afraid! But sometimes she is. She wonders if she's gone just a little too far and someone, somewhere will find a way to silence her. But then she sigh a sigh of relief, remembering she is just one small voice among the billions on the planet. She really isn't afraid for herself. Her fear is for her dear Maman, Vini, in occupied Khalistan. The noble Vivi, however, with a wave of her hand, laughs and says, 'Carry on, daughter.' And so I do. But constantly I pray for her safety. I have begged her to return to Canada, but she insists that she will live - and die - in Khalistan, occupied or not. So let me salute our beloved Vini Kaur and print out one of her favourite marching songs - from the 1960s, Carry it on:

There's a man by my side walking
There's a voice within me talking,
There's a voice, within me saying,
Carry it on, carry it on.

They will tell their lying stories,
Send their dogs to bite our bodies,
They will lock us up in prison,
Carry it on, carry it on.

All their lies will be forgotten,
All their dogs lie dead and rotten,
All their prison walls be crumblin',
Carry it on, carry it on.

When you can't go on any longer,
Take the hand, hand of your sister and brother,
Every victory gonna bring another,
Carry it on, carry it on.

Carry on, carry it on.

Repeat 1st Verse

This post was supposed to be about torture at Guantanamo Bay, about how a death sentence is about to be passed out based on 'testimony' given under torture. That is terribly important, so, I suppose that will be a third post for today here.

Back To The Inquisition!

Stress Positions, circa 1492>

Stress Positions, circa 2006

GUANTANAMERA (peasant Girl of Guantanamo)
by José Martí

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera

I am a sincere man
From where the palm tree grows
And before dying I want
To share the verses of my soul.

Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es de un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera

My verse is light green
And it is flaming crimson
My verse is a wounded deer
Who seeks refuge on the mountain.

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera

With the poor people of the earth
I want to share my good fortune
The brook of the mountains
Gives me more pleasure than the sea

From the Center For Constitutional Rights:

Today Military commission charges were handed down that seek the death penalty against CCR's client Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al Qahtani.

No military commission against Mr. Al Qahtani will ever achieve justice. Instead, it will deteriorate into a controversy over secret trials and the United States' well-documented torture of Mr. al Qahtani during interrogations at Guantánamo.

Read more about Al Qahtani's Torture

For the past six years, the United States government has refused to conduct traditional criminal trials or courts martial against Guantanamo detainees suspected of wrongdoing.

Instead, the military commissions at Guantanamo allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture. They are unlawful, unconstitutional, and a perversion of justice.

Read more about military comissions

Now the government is seeking to execute people based on this utterly unreliable and tainted evidence: it is difficult to imagine a more morally reprehensible system. Executions based on secret trials and torture evidence belong to another century. These barbaric sham proceedings will likely to inflame the controversy surrounding Guantanamo and draw the condemnation of even our allies.

Career military officers have already resigned because they could not stomach participating in a military commission system that goes against every principle of justice, due process and the rule of law. In particular, they were opposed to precisely the kinds of issues that will be the focus of Mr. al Qahtani's commission - the United States' use of torture and subsequent efforts to hide the criminal conduct of U.S. personnel.

Mr. al Qahtani may be the one charged today, but it is the illegality of his interrogation under torture that will be tried in the commission. Regardless of the results, no one will ever have confidence in the outcome of these military commissions.

Read more about military comissions

The United States has nothing legitimate to gain from prosecuting prisoners in military commissions at Guantanamo and a great deal to lose.

What kind of a nation have we become that we would rely on torture evidence, secret trials and an untested and deeply flawed system to impose the death penalty?

Our nation must abandon the failed experiment at Guantanamo. If the administration believes Mr. Al Qahtani has committed a crime, he should be charged and tried in a lawful proceeding worthy of our country.


Vincent Warren
Executive Director

And check this out about The U. S. Marines


Congressman Tom Lantos Dies

This arrived from The Sikh Coalition this morning. We grieve the loss of a good friend and offer our condolences to his family.

New York, New York (February 11, 2008) - The Sikh Coalition
is deeply saddened by this morning's announcement that U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, a strong ally of the Sikh-American community, passed away today. Congressman Lantos represented a sizeable Sikh population in his home constituency of San Mateo, California, and was an ardent supporter in our fight for religious rights. His loss will be deeply felt throughout the Sikh community.
Congressman Lantos, first elected in 1980, came to Congress with a long history of fighting religious discrimination - he was the only member of that institution to have survived the Holocaust. Over the years and as Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, his became a loud and influential voice in defense of human rights everywhere.

Last year, Congressman Lantos led the charge in our efforts to change the mandatory turban-screening policy put into place by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In a letter to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, Congressman Lantos wrote "As a victim of religious persecution myself, I abhor the idea that a U.S. government agency is engaged in a practice that isolates and humiliates ordinary Sikh Americans solely because they choose to wear the turban as an article of their faith."

We would like to thank Congressman Lantos for his support and leadership over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, staff and colleagues at this difficult time. Together with all of you, we grieve for the loss of an outstanding statesman, a zealous advocate and a principled politician.


07 February 2008


This just came into my inbox. I'll post further details as they arrive. I don't know how complete this about face is. Does it include just official document pictures, such as driver's licences and passports? Or is it trule meaningful and our sons can go back to school? Has Manmohan Singh finally done something more useful than apologising for the 1984 Delhi Pogrom/Massacre/Genocide/Battle? Further information as I get it!
Remember besides being Sikh, I am also 3/8 French...and so I find it doubly annoying when the French act like fools.

February 7, 2008
Filed under: Uncategorized — Via Media Mumbai News @ 10:40 pm



Thursday, February 07, 2008

Urdu Times, Urdu daily, Mumbai

Thursday February 7, 2008

Third Page News

France lifts ban on the turban of Sikhs

Maulana Wali Rahmani congratulates Prime Minster Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, February 06 (UNI): Maulana Wali Rahmani congratulated Prime Minster Manmohan Singh on his being successful in lifting ban on the turban (Pagrhi) of Sikh community in

France. Maulana wrote a letter to PM, a copy of which has been released to the press. It notes that our Prime Minister met the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy on his recent visit to

India. This accorded a good opportunity for our Prime Minister to introduce Indian culture to the French President.

He said that in response of Prime Minister’s request, the President of France had lifted the ban on Sikh turbans and thus accorded recognizance to Indian culture and Sikh’s religious identification in


Maulana Wali Rahmani praised Prime Minster Manmohan Singh on his courage that he did not hesitate in considering it his official duty to represent Sikh’s religion; without being apologetic of being Sikh he himself and strongly recommended that Prime Minister’s example should be followed by political leaders of other communities too.

With the reference to freedom of religion and culture, Maulana Wali Rahmani in his letter drew Prime Minster’s attention toward the arbitrary willfulness of courts regarding the interpretation of Sharia Law. He appealed to Prime Minister to use his authority to stop the court’s schemes undermining the religious and cultural identification of Muslims and Muslim Personal law.

(Translated from Urdu by Sadre Shaikh Qasmi)

06 February 2008


As you may have noticed, this is not a commercial blog. There are no little Google ads suggesting you buy this or that. Occasionally, I'll put on a public service type thing advising about some event of interest to the community. Rarely, I will suggest you contribute to some worthy cause, as to the fund for Sukhvir Singh's medical expenses.

Only once have I suggested you actually go out - or rather, stay in - and buy something.

The main purpose of this blog is to educate people, Sikh and nonSikh both, about the events of 1984, especially the genocide - pogrom - massacre - battle in Delhi in early November, 1984. Although many other topics have been covered, this remains my/our Number One objective.

This movie is a relatively painless way to accomplish this.

Perhaps, like me, you didn't want to see it in public. I had no idea how I would react and don't care to expose myself to the eyes of strangers. But now, you can watch it at home, alone or with family and friends.

Please buy it, watch it, share it. Buy a couple copies to give as gifts. India doesn't want to world to even know this happened. If the story is to be told, we have to do it ourselves. I am, of course, doing this on my own. The producers have not asked me to advertise this. And I do not receive - and would not accept, if offered - any compensation from anyone.

Now, please see this movie!

It would be really nice if you told me you bought it. Otherwise I have the feeling I'm just an unheralded voice in the blogosphere.


Why did the Indian media BAN! this film

...because it is the the TRUTH



04 February 2008

My Journal - Unexpurgated

I have decided to open my journal up. It is called My Journal Winter 1984. There is some strong language in it, but as most of my readers are young, I doubt there is anything you haven't heard among your school chums, probably on a daily basis. For my older readers, you're sophisticated enough, I'm sure to understand why the language has to be there.
Search engines have been instructed to crawl past it. I certainly hope they are true to their word. I do not want the world to think the anger and hatred I express therein are me today.

For those of you looking for inspiration, this is as inspiring, I'm afraid, as a pile of dog poop. But it is a historical document and, thus, worth preserving in its original form. If I ever buy a scanner, maybe I'll scan it in.

So here's the link: My Journal Winter 1984

03 February 2008

Coping - A Reply To Sundari

Every day you must arise and say to your heart,
I have suffered enough and now I must live because the light of the sun must not be wasted,
it must not be lost without an eye to appreciate it.
Simone Schwarz-Bart
with thanks to Ramina

A few days ago, I read a post on the site The Langar Hall, about a novel concerning, among other things, the events of 1984. As readers of this blog know well, I was involved in those events. A series of comments ensued between the author of the article (not the author of the novel), Sundari. That exchange follows, first with a comment by me, and the rest of the exchange following

By Mai Harinder Kaur on Jan 30, 2008

I am a survivor of the Delhi Pogrom (1984). I have been trying to write a semifictional account of what happened to us: two fathers, two sons, two pregnant mothers, two brothers and three unborn children. We have told the nonfiction story on the blog in various posts. It's hard to write.

I would like to make the point that it has never been proven that we Sikhs were behind the bombing of AI 182. That belief has been fostered primarily by the reporter Kim Bolan of the Vancouver Sun, who seems to have an antipathy toward the Sikh community. There are other viable theories.

By Sundari on Jan 30, 2008

Mai Harinder Kaur, Thank you for your comments. I cannot imagine what you went through but believe these are the types of stories that need to be told. I wish you luck with your writing!

You are correct that it has never been proven that Sikhs were behind the AI 182 bombing, and I hope my post did not come across as suggesting that. However, it was interesting to me that an association was made in the media and it stuck… and I was reminded of it when i read Badami's novel. Personally, i don't think she did a good job at making the connection, but from what i have read of the author it is clear that she believes the AI 182 bombing was a sort of reaction to the events of 1984.

Nevertheless, this was a work of fiction…

By Mai Harinder Kaur on Jan 30, 2008

Your post neither states nor implies that we Sikhs had anything to do with that horrible bombing. I just wanted to state explicitly what I said.

The nonfiction version of our 1984 stories are on our blog The Road To Khalistan. The title refers to the way we three women became convinced that we cannot be safe without our nation. The links to the stories can all be found at


Our stories lack some features I have read in others. No one of us was burned alive or raped. We do tell our stories in a very personal way and in some detail.

BTW, I love your website.

By Sundari on Jan 31, 2008

Mai Harinder Kaur, I appreciate you sharing your experiences. After reading through some of your posts, I wonder what coping mechanisms you have used over the years to deal with what you went through. On this blog we have previously discussed the psychological impact of torture and the effect is has on the health and well-being of victims. So, i wonder how you dealt with the experiences (I'm sure your writing is therapeutic) or whether there were any services offered in the community you live in now.

By Mai Harinder Kaur on Feb 1, 2008

Sundari Ji,

Really, there is no short, easy answer.

I wrote quite a long answer, but upon reading it, I realise that it would not be appropriate for a comment here.

I would however be happy to share it with you personally, if you would email me at simayanan@gmail.com

I have not yet heard from Sundari, but I think all this would make an interesting blog post, so I decided to publish it here. And this is my reply to her.

I read that article with some interest.

Strange. I have never really thought of myself as a torture victim survivor (there, that's better!), although certainly the encounter in Amritsar would qualify me.

Talking about coping with the effects of the whole experience - Amritsar and then Delhi - that would, I think take a book.

Physically, I have a few scars, only a few cuts and burns on my arms are visible. From the beating in Delhi, I lost most of my disposable internal organs, and my right knee was damaged. Today that has developed into advanced osteoarthritis; some days I have trouble walking. In addition, I have a torn rotator cuff on my right shoulder and a torn gastrocnemius in my left leg. These still bother me - cause pain - from time to time.

Coping mechanisms: running, hiding, denial, withdrawal, drugs, alcohol, plotting revenge, from about 1985 - 1997. Not very successful. I was plagued with depression, backflashes, insomnia, nightmares. During this time, I spoke of what had happened to almost no one. I left my family and the Sikh community and lived in a sort of limbo. I got married in 1989; I'm still married to him, but have never discussed these events with him.

In 1993, I had a mild stroke. After that, my mental state deteriorated gradually over several years.

In 1997, I had a complete breakdown, physical and mental, and spent some time in a mental hospital. They gave me some psychological tests and determined that I had PTSD, but as far as I know, never inquired into why. I might be wrong, as this time in my life is still a bit foggy to me. I do know they dosed me with all sorts of drugs that made me act more acceptably outwardly and did lessen the backflashes, but simply forced me deeper inside myself. So I guess I didn't cope very well.

When left on my own, I stopped taking all their drugs, which at least let me feel less like a zombie and more like a human being.

I remained more or less in that state until about 2004. I had some counselling, but it accomplished little, as I never opened up about 1984. My bad, I guess.

Then one day, I just sort of seemed to wake up. I found myself at a gurdwara and gradually returned to the Sikh community, much to the dismay of my Christian husband. That was really, when I started some sort of recovery, though. In preparation for taking amrit a second time, I began writing the story of what had happened to me and, and sometime later, in a moment either of clarity or insanity published these stories in a public blog.

I want to make it clear, that in the years from 1985-2004, although I was in bad shape - except for the breakdown in 1997 - the people around me had no idea there was anything wrong. I was able to outwardly keep up a good front and live a 'normal' life.

It was my return to the sangat that really advanced my recovery, but as these things happen in life, shortly after I took amrit for the second time, I had a major stroke and died twice - no vital signs - and have had to work very hard to recover from that. That stroke might well have been my salvation, though. It forced me to either fight the battle of my life or to just quit. Obviously, I chose to fight and in many ways, I'm in great shape today. The body is a mess, but I can walk and talk and my intelligence is mostly intact. The left side of my body is partially paralysed, but I'm working on that. And I have a love for all things Sikh that I can't even begin to describe.

Over the years I seem to have lost some of my social savoire faire, but I hope to regain that with practice.

Today, my main residual problem from 1984 is insomnia. You know, 'Sleep no more, Rajiv hath murdered sleep.'

So now I have told you more than you ever wanted to know. What can I say, I'm a writer. I write. And there is no editor with a metaphorical red pencil looking over my shoulder!