31 October 2008

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear...

This came to me today through a facebook group that I'm a member of. It is appropriate and now I share it with you.

Raminder Singh sent a message to the members of In Memory of Shaheeds Bhai Satwant Singh and Bhai Beant Singh.

Subject: 24 Years Ago Today

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh!

Khalsa ji, twenty four years ago today Bhai Satwant Singh and Bhai Beant Singh along with the help of Bhai Kehar Singh performed a great service to the panth. Please take a moment of your time today and remember the services these Singhs did for the panth and their kurbani.

Also do not forget the aftermath and the genocide committed by the Indian state upon the innocent Sikhs in the following days. So go out there and get involved whether its attending a remembrance vigil, donating blood or educating yourself upon the issue, please just do something to remember the events.

check out:




Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh!

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear
And hear their death knells ringing,
When friends rejoice, both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?

On gallows high or dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Yes, today, I am spewing anger and even hatred,venom. By the end of next week, I'll be back to my usual self with a spirit of cooperation and reconciliation and probably some guilt that again this year, I am overcome with these nasty feelings. But honesty demands that I express how I am feeling. So no apologies. Not today, not tomorrow. Maybe in a week.

30 October 2008

Hallowe'en and Sikhs - Again.

Last year I wrote about my dislike of Hallowe'en. That has not diminished over the last year. If you don't know about Hallowe'en, what it is, what it's all about I suggest you check out last year's blogpost about Hallowe'en..

Here is an excellent article about Sikhs and Hallowe'en by Harjinder Singh.

Halloween & The Sikhs
Harjinder Singh

Halloween is a global festival which is cheerfully celebrated with kids trick or treating, people mocking and gimmicking ghosts, ghouls, goblins and demons. For Sikhs on the other hand Halloween carries a real grave significance, of real ghouls and demons, who massacred Sikhs in October and November 1984.

On Halloween, 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi the Indian Prime Minister was assassinated. (Mai's note: executed) What followed her death was inhumane, depraved and despicable, some call it genocide others ethnic cleansing, I"ll let the readers decide what they feel. The world silently turned a blind eye to these events and rather mourned the death of Mrs Gandhi.

Sikhs were burnt alive, raped, made refugees, murdered on mass, Gurdwaras attacked and Sikh businesses singled out for attacks. All this happened in what Sikhs at the time saw as "mother India." What was the crime of these Sikhs? What had they done to bring out the demons of Halloween?

The bodyguards of Mrs Gandhi who assassinated
(Mai: executed) her, were Sikhs, so the orchestrated carnage was planned to "teach the Sikhs a lesson." These children, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and grandparents had no link to the Sikh assassins. In the times of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee, Guru Jee saw the destruction of the Mughal ruler Baabar and said,

There was so much slaughter that the people screamed. Didn't You feel compassion, Lord? O Creator Lord, You are the Master of all. If some powerful man strikes out against another man, then no one feels any grief in their mind. But if a powerful tiger attacks a flock of sheep and kills them, then its master must answer for it. This priceless country has been laid to waste and defiled by dogs, and no one pays any attention to the dead (Limb 360, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee)

These words ring true of what happened to Sikhs across India following Mrs Gandhi's death, to the extent that Guru Sahibs words above aptly describe the attacks on these common, everyday Sikhs. Sikhs were brutally and clinically attacked in cities across India, Delhi, Kanpur, Patna and the list goes on, over 10,000 Sikhs died between 31st October - 3rd November, 1984, many more refugees lived on with nightmares of what they witnessed.

Hitler killed the Jews in gas chambers which were in secret locations but in India Sikhs were killed in public. The Jews have pursued Nazis for these genocidal acts, today the culprits of Sikh genocide walk free, let's try and achieve some justice. Let's remember these Sikhs and support the surviving families and widows, so the pain of Halloween can be lessened. Please see the links below to start making practical steps in this endeavour;

Genocide of Sikhs
: http://www.carnage84.com/

Films: http://www.amuthefilm.com/

Human Rights: http://www.lfhri.org/Lawyers for Human Rights International

Books: Government-organised Carnage, by Gurcharan Singh Babbar

Candle Light Vigil, 12pm - 7pm, Wednesday 5th November, 2008
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham


29 October 2008

And The Hate Continues

I seem to be posting a lot of disturbing pictures of Sikh brothers these days. I wish these pictures didn't exist. I wish I didn'y have to post them. But this needs to be known.

I heard someone on TV say that the election of Barack Obama - if it happens T-5 days and counting - would herald the end of racism in America. I don't think so. In fact, I know not. How very naive.

This is from SALDEF:

Hate Finds Another Victim in New Jersey

SALDEF concerned about potential backlash in the coming weeks after historic Presidential election

Washington, DC – October 29, 2008: On Monday, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, documented a violent hate crime against a Sikh American man in Carteret, New Jersey.

Before dawn on Monday morning, Mr. Ajit Singh Chima walked out of his home in Carteret for his daily exercise. As he walked around his neighborhood, Mr. Chima was violently struck in the head by a Hispanic male who appeared to be in his twenties. As Mr. Chima fell to the ground, the assailant continued to violently punch and kick Mr. Chima in the head, neck and face before casually walking away from the scene. Nothing was stolen from Mr. Chima’s person.

Mr. Chima suffered four broken bones around his jaw and eyes. Other medical tests are ongoing to diagnose any possible effects on his vision or greater head injuries.

As of today, no arrests have been made. Upon learning of the incident, SALDEF alerted local police, the Mayor of Carteret, the FBI and other Justice Department officials and urged them to investigate the attack as a possible hate crime. Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman acknowledged SALDEF’s concerns about post-9/11 hate crimes against Sikhs and reassured SALDEF that the attack would be properly investigated.

“In light of previous hate attacks against the Sikh American community, if theft isn’t an issue, and if the assailant isn’t known to the victim, we are left with a presumption that bias was a motive,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Legal Director of SALDEF. “We want law enforcement officials to investigate this attack as a possible hate crime.”

The Potential for More

Over the past year, SALDEF and many other organizations have expressed concern about the use of ethnic and religious slurs in the context of the presidential campaign and the perceived acceptance from both campaigns that to be or perceived to be Muslim or Arab is negative. SALDEF has also documented an increase in verbal assaults directed toward Sikhs in the past 30 days.

For example, last month, a community member came to SALDEF regarding an incident that occurred in Providence, RI which could have resulted in violence. While waiting on the sidewalk for a companion to park their car, a Sikh American man was approached by a white male who got out of his vehicle and accosted him. The white male approached the turbaned Sikh male and allegedly stated, " I have a gun in my car and since you are a hajii no one will care if I kill you. You know why the police won't do anything? Because I got blond hair and blue eyes." As the assailant left, he screamed, "F*** Arabs and F*** Obama."

“The bias-filled rhetoric has reached a new high this campaign season and our community must be prepared for any potential increase in hate and bias crimes,” said SALDEF National Director Rajbir Singh Datta. “Individuals who feel no shame about verbally assaulting members of the Sikh American community usually just need a spark to turn violent. We fear the spark may be the outcome of the presidential campaign, regardless of who wins.”

This should not prevent Sikh Americans from voting on November 4, 2008. SALDEF urges all Sikh Americans to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election year.

As always, however, Sikh Americans should be aware of their surroundings; stay in contact with friends and family; and immediately report any incidents of harassment or violence to the police and to SALDEF at legal@saldef.org or via phone at (202) 393-2700.

CONTACT: Rajbir Singh Datta; media@saldef.org; 202-393-2700 ext 127

26 October 2008

300 Saal Guru De Naal

300 Saal Guru De Naal, originally uploaded by simmal tree.

I have been most neglectful not to post this before.

Let us be happy anf grateful and remain in chardi kala, always mindful of the great gift of our Eternal, Living Guru Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj!

24 October 2008

Darcey Responds To Brother Laibar Singh Ji

Commenting on yesterday's post about Brother Laibar Singh Ji's alleged - I still haven't been able to confirm it - statement thay he is ready to return to India, Darcey of Dust my Broom complains that I didn't include a link to his article. I now rectify this. In fact, I'll go farther than a mere link; I'll provide you with his article.

Darcey, I think that dig about " dagger wielding terrorist thugs " is a bit much. And that should be "you're," not "your."

I am currently in the middle of a war of words in the comment section of this post and would be most grateful for any support you, our loyal readers might give. I am reprinting on the article, not the comments. Please go there and read and add your voice to counter all these antiSikh comments.

Please notice that some of these comments go beyond statements against illegal immigrants all the way to antiSikh statements!

Darcey's article:

Laibar Singh: Thanks for all the milk Canada but I'm heading home

Written by Darcey

Thursday, 23 October 2008

It seems like just yesterday that extremist Sikhs gathered around by the thousands at the Vancouver National Airport and threatened violence against Canadian officials who were trying to deport illegal scumbag Laibar Singh. In the end Canada lost and they let him seek sanctuary in various Sikh temples around the lower mainland who ended up passing him around like a hot potato when the hundreds of thousands of dollars pledged by community leaders never materialized.

Then it came out that the amazing paralyzed community draw was never paralyzed to begin with and then those same community leaders slash former terrorists realized they were in a losing public relations battle and formed a coalition to send Laibar home with a couple grand. He refused and got wheeled over to another temple and the media storm quietly died away but I never forgot, either him or his thug team with their little gay daggers threatening our country:

A paralyzed refugee claimant who sought refuge in B.C. Sikh temples says he is ready to leave his sanctuary and return to India.

Laibar Singh has been living in various temples since he was ordered deported more than a year ago, successfully avoiding three attempts to deport him from the country.

Now Swarn Gill, president of the Abbotsford temple where Mr. Singh is living, says the widower misses his four children back home in India.

Mr. Gill says Mr. Singh also fears he could be arrested if he leaves the temple because officials with the Canada Border Services Agency have warned him that's what will happen.

Mr. Gill says the paralyzed man, in his 50s, no longer has hope that the Canadian government will allow him to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.

Mr. Singh used a false passport to enter Canada in 2003 and fled from Toronto to Vancouver, where he suffered an aneurysm that left him paralyzed. (Globe and Mail)

The fad is over. When he finally goes it will enable Canadians to thumb their noses once again at that damn Economist article - Canada: A haven for villains. Now will somebody please wheel this scumbag out of my sight and toss on a few of those dagger wielding terrorist thugs while your at it.

23 October 2008

Brother Laibar Singh Decides To Return To India?

I just received this news via my Google Alert for "Laibar Singh." I have not yet confirmed this; I will get in touch with my contact as soon as possible and let you know when she makes a response.

To Brother Laibar Singh Ji, I make this personal statement, roached from an old song, "You ain't heavy, you're my brother...No burden are you to bear, we'll get there...The load doesn't weigh me down at all...You ain't heavy, you're my brother."

Dear Brother,

Whatever you choose to do, please know that my prayers and sisterly love go with you. We know that all that happens is the Hukam of Vaheguru. The kirpaa of Vaheguru is unknowably great and I am sure that whatever happens, you are loved more than you can even imagine.

I am sorry I have no money to send. Since I live in America, not Canada, at present, my medical bills have drained all of our small resources. You do have, as always, everything I can give.

Dear Brother, remain always in Chardi kala. Be strong! Be brave! Have courage! Remember who you are and what you are and whar you are about! My Dad used to say that to me all the time. I'm happy to pass it on to you.

You have given us a great gift. For a time - a short time, to be sure - but for a time, we acted as a unified community. We found out what it felt like to stand together united. I pray that we can now build on this. That will be your legacy among your Canadian sisters and brothers.

So, again, dear Brother, always remain in chardi kala! Gurfateh!

Your loving sister,
Mai Harinder Kaur

What the heck! For those of you who don't know this song, here are all the words. It happens to be one of my all time favourite songs.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me

If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another.

It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

The first article, from News 1130 All News Radio

Laibar Singh voluntarily heading back to India

Dec. 10, 2007: Laibar Singh
News1130 file photo
Thursday, October 23 - 11:02:00 AM

Shane Bigham
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Paralysed refugee claimant Laibar Singh plans to return to India voluntarily. He's apparently fed-up with the process.

There are reports Singh is saying he misses his family in India, and doesn't want to be a burden, especially when there is not much hope of help from the Canadian government.

He arrived in this country in 2003 on a false passport, fled from Montreal to Vancouver after a deportation order, then suffered a massive stroke that left him a quadriplegic.

Harjinder Thind, News Director with Red FM, says Singh hasn't recovered, but he feels better. Singh has been living in sanctuary at various Sikh temples.

Thind says no date has been set but it's likely to happen some time in the next two weeks. Singh will be given money that's been donated (approximately $32,000 Canadian).

The second article, from The Canadian Press:

Paralyzed failed B.C. refugee misses kids, gives up fight to stay in Canada
1 hour ago

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A paralyzed refugee claimant who sought refuge in B.C. Sikh temples says he is ready to leave his sanctuary and return to India.

Laibar Singh has been living in various temples since he was ordered deported more than a year ago, successfully avoiding three attempts to deport him from the country.

Now Swarn Gill, president of the Abbotsford temple where Singh is living, says the widower misses his four children back home in India.

Gill says Singh also fears he could be arrested if he leaves the temple because officials with the Canada Border Services Agency have warned him that's what will happen.

Gill says the paralyzed man, in his 50s, no longer has hope that the Canadian government will allow him to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.

Singh used a false passport to enter Canada in 2003 and fled from Toronto to Vancouver, where he suffered an aneurysm that left his paralyzed.

21 October 2008

Why We Need Khalistan - Incident #12,34,56,78,901

By now, we have all heard of the invasion of the gurdwara in Belgium by their immigration forces. If not, go here and read: Belgium Does A Big Bad. There is also a link there discussing how to write a letter of outrage to your local Belgium embassy deploring this action. To read the article in Punjabi, go here. Would anyone be offended if I were to say that this reminds me of the invasion of Harmadir Sahib in June, 1984. The boots, the uncovered heads, the holiday observance, the violence - all on a lesser scale, of course - but most of all the disrespect.

Evidently, at least one person also sees the parallels:

Commenting on the effect this incident has on the Sikh community, Kuljit Singh, General Secretary for the oldest Gurdwara in the western hemisphere, Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) London in the United Kingdom stated, “This has been a violation of basic human rights. Belgium as a democratic country should not have allowed this kind of behavior by police. Religious customs should be respected and the police should not have worn their shoes and stopped the prayers.”

“The tercentenary is a very significant celebration for the Sikhs; one of our most precious historical events, and the akhand paath should never have been stopped. The last time that an akhand paath was interrupted was in 1984 when the Golden Temple in Amritsar was stormed by the Indian army. Sikhs are again pained to be reminded of that attack by this unfortunate incident,” He added.
From Sikh Sangat News

Today, United Sikhs released this translation from the French newspaper, Le Soir. For my readers who care to read the original, read this article in French.

No arrest made at the end of the Vilvorde raid

Black day for the Sikhs

Photo Caption: The Police raid carried out on Saturday at dawn in the Sikh temple at Vilvorde had nothing to show. But it has shaken the community, in the middle of a special celebration.

The police raid at Vilvorde’s Sikh temple has bruised the community. Which demands an apology.

Resham Singh is wounded. But the sparkle in his hazel eyes doesn’t represent well the rancour that torments him. On Saturday. the Police beseiged the Sikh temple that he presides at Vilvorde, as part of the drive to break-up an Indian network of trafficking of human beings (Monday evening). An operation without consideration for the special ceremony that was being held there. “Black day”, says Resham Singh, “that we will commemorate every year.”

The Gurdwara Sahib is one of the four Sikh temples of the country. It has up to 900 devotees. A vast hangar at the heart of Vilvorde transformed into an Australian hype restaurant before being reconverted into a religious place. The entry gate, flanked by big wooden cases where the followers deposit their shoes evokes that of a mosque. The room has two levels, covered with Persian carpets… The space is traced with multicoloured paper garlands, plastic flags. Rainbow coloured balls dangle on ropes tied from one wall to another.

At the far end of the room, two enormous stuffed tigers – like those that can be won in lotteries in the fairs in the Midi – stand guard at the foot of the “palki”, the altar of the temple, where two huge sports trophies are enthroned… “Gifts”, Resham Singh seems to be excusing himself.

Nobody finds the apparent kitsch funny…. “Devotees have been reduced to tears here when we recounted yesterday’s police raid… Do you realise”, says Resham Singh, “Our temple is the only one in the world to have been subjected to this outrage… The only Gurdwara where the 48 hours of uninterrupted reading which was supposed to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the sacred texts of Sikhism have been savagely interrupted.”

The facts tumble in the nervous remarks by Resham, his ally Malook, Amrik, the converted Sikh, and “Sunny”, the Muslim friend, the only member of the group without the turban, the pepper and salt beard (never cut, like the hair) and the kirpan, the symbolic dagger with shoulder strap… The police which blocks the exits from 4.30 am. Brief negotiations to convince them to respect the ritual. The doors broken down at 5 am. The charge. Devotees, traditional singers and the “granthi”, the prior of the temple taken in for questioning. The cupboard broken, from where the account books taken away. The inner ransacking of the place, from the roof to the cellar. The heavy noise of shoes, especially on the worn-out carpet. And the heads uncovered. As though out of provocation.

“A humiliation”, resumes the old Malook. The ways that remind one of that fateful day when Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at the time, ordered the siege of the Golden Temple of Amritsar”, the central place of the Sikh monotheism.

In less than 24 hours, the devotees taken in for questioning, numbering about 40, were freed. Sunday evening, the foreign office renounced the application of the only three orders issued to leave the country… The concerned persons (the singers having come from India to celebrate the “akhand path”) had valid passports and visas. “Everything happened as though the Public Prosecutor’s office, that did not arrest any of the alleged leaders of the network, felt obliged to justify the scale of the raid”, comments advocate Inès Wouters.

Two days after the raid, still no explanation”, observes Resham Singh.. “Why did the foreign office try to expel three visitors on a legal visit? What is the justification for this behaviour that the churches are spared, that nobody would dare to inflict on mosques, synagogues and Masonic temple? The Public Prosecutor in Brussels claims that the Gurdwara in Vilvorde is “regularly used for receives illegal immigrants”. At the same time admitting that there was no proof to establish that the people in charge of the temple were implicated.

Illegal immigrants? “Everyone is welcome”, reacts ‘Sunny’, “We do not ask for papers at the entry. And if we do give private individuals shelter, as is required by the Sikh tradition, it is for a maximum of one or two days… Only the “granthi” resides in the temple.

The case has disgusted the Sikh community in the four corners of the world. “We have written a letter to the Prime Minister, Yves Leterne, asking him to order an inquiry into the events at Vilvorde”. confirms from New York, the lawyer of the United Sikhs , Mejindarpal Kaur. Others followed, like the religious authorities at Amritsar, as well as their representatives in United States and Canada. The Association of Sikh Temples in United States also saw sense in taking the matter before the State Department… “This temple is not a no-right zone, but for all that, it is not less of a place of respect”, insists Ms. Wouters. “We are waiting for excuses: the Justice department has unnecessarily created the amalgam between criminal activities that must be prosecuted and the practice of Sikhism.” Resham Singh, suddenly, becomes serious, “5,000 to 6,000 Sikhs live in Belgium. A peaceful, hardworking community present from 18 years… Every year on the 11th of November, at Ypres, we participate in the commemorations in the memory of the 35,000 Sikhs who shed their blood here, during the two wars. How can you expect us to understand the way the Police has treated us?”

The sweet milk tea has become cold in the metallic glasses kept on the ground. The vermicelli made of chickpea flour doesn’t tempt anyone. In the galleries of the temple, a child holds an inflated ball in the air. Resham Singh has a thought for his four children. They live in Amritsar with their mother whom he visits five or six times a year. “I wanted them to learn Punjabi and to study the sacred book. They will come back to Belgium when they will be 13 – 14 years old. I hope that they will come back to a country which would have the dignity to excuse itself for an unjust affront.”


Note: A certain amount of anger is here, mixed in with the pain and apprehension. I have, however, attempted to keep the vitriol, to a minimum.

And, of course, I think about Brother Laibar Singh in sanctuary in Canada,

15 October 2008

How Do They Stand on "Sikh Issues"?

Of course, all issues are Sikh issues. Everything that concerns other people concerns us, as well.
However, there are a few issues that we seems to care about is a special way, such as the right to keep the panj kakkars, especially the kirpan, on us at all times, and the prejudice our children face in schools.

Where do Sens. Obama and McCain stand on such things?

The Sikh Coalition sent out a questionnaire to both candidates eight months ago. They received Sen. Obama's back in June, but the McCain campaign is dragging their feet.

If you'd like to sign a letter to that campaign encouraging them to get off their behinds and send it in, go to What's your position, Senator McCain?

They need to release both candidates' statements together, so to read one, we need to get both. I would love to read this. As the President of the United States affects the entire world, it would be useful to Sikh world-wide to have this information. (By the way, the Sikh Coalition is non-partisan. I am not.)

Trivia. Did you know members of the Senate of Canada, like members of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, are not elected? They are appointed by the governor general, the representative of the British sovereign, currently Queen Elizabeth II. They serve until they are 75 years old.

NOT TRIVIA. Thanks to the 14 of you who went to the petition to stop the prison from cutting Jagmohan Singh Ahuja's hair . They've done it once and will do it again and again and again if they are not stopped. Here again is that dreadful before and after picture.

If YOU want to sign the petition, here again is the link to that: http://unitedsikhs.org/petitions/petition.php?id=11

14 October 2008

Defending Jagdish Tytler?

Yesterday I received a most remarkable comment on an old blog post, More On Mr. Jagdish Tytler. I will share it with you here and ask for your feedback, please.

Puneet has left a new comment on your post "More On Mr. Jagdish Tytler":

I don't know if anyone realizes this but Jagdish Tytler is really a Sikh. His mother was Dayal Kaur and father was a Kapoor.
His father had died when he was a baby and Tytler helped rear him, hence the name. Jagdish has gone to Gurudwaras his whole life and as an ode to his mother he got married in a Gurudwara by a Granthi. He would never dream of harming a Sikh because he loved his mother dearly.
Things got so twisted in 1984 and it was a case of mistaken identity. People made up stories out of rumors. He is a Sikh by blood.

I responded thus:

This is a most remarkable and controversial comment, so much so that I am going to write it up in a separate post, which I hope to get up later today. Here, I will only say that the only people who are "Sikh by blood" are our shaheeds. While one can be blessed to be born into a Sikh family, no one is born a Sikh; that is a choice, a decision. Being a Sikh is not genetic.

So...what do others say about Jagdish Tytler? From my research, whatever his mother may have been, he is no more a Sikh than was his master, Indira Gandhi. I still wish to see him dangling at the end of a rope.

After we dispose of these criminals, I'll be a good little Sikh and oppose the death penalty. No, maybe I won't. I'll be against it except for crimes against humanity. I will have to allow that one exception.

13 October 2008

Mai? Mai. Mai!

A very dear friend of mine is impatiently waiting for me to explain how I came up with this strange, unSikh sounding name of Mai Laya. Since I haven't told this story online before, I decided to put it here, in case anyone has ever wondered. Actually, it ties together two of the great events in my life, my birth and my marriage.

First I'll dispose of 'Laya.' Blame that on Google. I was always Mai, just Mai, but when I registered for an account, they wanted, no, they insisted on a second name. I could have - probably should have - used Kaur, but at that time, I had not yet returned to the Sangat and all things Sikh and I felt I had no right to use that name. I almost randomly chose Laya from Himalaya. It does sound euphonious with Mai, eh?

"Mai", however, has a real story.

Chapter One
I Am Born
(That reminds me of Melanie reading David Copperfield from the movie Gone With The Wind.)

When it was time for my birth, my mother went to stay with her family. I'm not sure why. I think that she and Dad were not getting along and she didn't want him around. She waited and waited, getting angrier and more impatient by the day. It seems I was in no hurry to get into this world and arrived two weeks after the projected due date.

In being born, though, I made up for lost time. There was no time to call the doctor, much less get her to the hospital. It must have been the shortest labour in history.

After all that, I was a girl.

No, not that silly Punjabi prejudice against the girlchild. Dad had enough sons anyway. In his family, there is a genetic condition that affects all the girls born. Usually, they die as babies or very young children. My mother said, "They live just long enough to break your heart." She had three girls, all of whom died, before me and was not at all willing to go through that heartbreak again. She hadn't wanted another child to begin with and now she had as little to do with me as was possible. Beyond feeding me, she paid little attention to me.

Of course, Dad was called and he and my brothers, all seven of them, came running, along with a friend of the youngest. He arrived in a few minutes, bellowing "Waheguru!" partly from joy and partly he wanted that to be the first word I ever heard. (It wasn't, of course, my mother was cursing in furious anger the whole time.)

In those days, doctors were more willing to make housecalls and her ob/gyn came to the house. I don't know all the details, but she stayed home and didn't go to the hospital until going to be checked up a few days later. I guess there weren't as many malpractice suits then as now. After a time, all the medical details were taken care of - it was not true that Dad cut my umbilical cord with his kirpan, I'm not sure who started that story - I was cleaned up, wrapped up in a baby blanket and my mother gave me my first meal and then went to sleep.

Dad and eight boys were left in charge of a tiny baby girl. (My mother's family never accepted our father and brothers. They were/are not nice people. They didn't like me either.) According to my Dad, I was the most beautiful baby ever born, with a full head of hair - after all, they had an extra two weeks to grow - and huge blue eyes and I gurgled nicely.

He whispered "Waheguru" in my ears a few more times and slipped a tiny kara on my wrist.

So what to do with me? Dad was very comfortable with young babies, but my brothers weren't. Dad teased them all a bit and I was passed from brother to brother until I came to my brother's ten year old friend. He was terrified to hold this new, little life, but finally Dad shamed him into taking me. I was laid in his waiting arms - and promptly threw up all over him! The boy and the new-born baby just stared into each other's eyes.

Dad threw back his head and laughed and laughed and laughed. Finally he bellowed, "This one won't put up with cowards. I see we have another Mai Bhago on our hands!" I have been Mai ever since.

So, you see, I was actually Mai before I was Harinder.

Mai is, after all, a Sikh name. At least my Mai is. I was always brought with that lady as my ideal, a true warrior princess and servant of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

How does the marriage come in?

That ten year old boy was Mani. We were married 18 years later to the day.

None of these pictures are actually of me. I chose that particular painting of Mai Bhago (Mata Bhag Kaur) because I used to ride a white horse, as well. Not that I am much like this great Singhni!).

12 October 2008

K P - Gill Tells Who He Is

I came across this story through a Google Alert and just had to share it with you.

He implies that our kakkars are "lucky charms" and says point blank that they are "just a matter of personal belief"! And at the same time he seems to believe that he is a personal agent of "God." Spiritually, he seems to be a close cousin, or maybe even a clone of George W. Bush. By the way, I did not doctor the picture; I took it straight out of the TOI.

I suggest you read this on an empty stomach.

Printed from

I AM: KPS Gill
12 Oct 2008, 1030 hrs IST, TNN

I really don’t know if I’m spiritual, for I am not cast in a traditionally religious mould. As a Sikh I revere Guru Gobind Singh, but I don't observe “paath” or prayers as an everyday ritual.

I am rather a very action-oriented person and unless I can apply something in my life, I don’t consider myself qualified enough to talk on that subject. But yes, I do believe in God and the fact that all of us are His creation. I don’t pray very particularly or visit temples regularly, but do what I feel is right as per my conscience because I feel our soul has direct communication with God.

During the days of extremism in Punjab, where I was posted as the police chief, it would be no less than a personal bereavement for me to see people around me dying everyday. I have seen despair and disappointment from very close quarters; it was so disheartening to see men and women like you and me falling victims to bullets. But somewhere inside me, I had this conviction that God had sent me to a terror-affected place with a purpose and He will give me enough power to root it out someday.

I faced death everyday, but not once did it to scare me. In fact, there was a time when every move made by my team yielded positive results and it was then that my belief became stronger that the Supreme Being himself was guiding me at every step.

Even though we were later accused of committing excesses in the name of stamping out terrorism, it didn’t waver my faith in what I did, because it was He who made me do what He wanted me to. I believed, therefore I did. I have read the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagvada Gita, Quran and the Bible and realised that the basic tenets of every religion are the same. So it's really very difficult to understand how people can fight in the name of religion.

Whatever set of beliefs I have today have been a result of my upbringing - not just my parents, but also the places and circumstances I was brought up in. My father served at Paonta Sahib, the place that is associated with Guru Gobind Singh. In fact, it was because of an inherent desire to follow the Guru that I have kept a beard. I don't wear any lucky charms. The five Ks, as mentioned in the Sikh religion, had a purpose to serve at the time they were conceptualised; today, they are just a matter of personal belief. Right now, I am trying to help people around me through small but meaningful ways.

(As told to Divya A)

08 October 2008

Jagmohan Singh Ahuja - Before And After Picture

I am in tears. My heart aches inside me.

I have been following and writing about this case of the Sikh prisoner in Florida who had his kesh forcibly cut and shaved. Please take a good look at these pictures. I hope posting these does not further humiliate our brother, but I think this needs to be seen. So take a good long look. If this doesn't break any Sikh's heart...

In no way do I excuse his beating his wife. He deserves to be prosecuted and imprisoned for that. I do not accept that he didn't understand that what may be acceptable in Afghanistan is not acceptable in America - if he really did say such a thing, which is open to question.

But prosecution is not persecution. I come from a family where our members have proven under fire that they would die before cutting/shaving. Our hair is Vaheguru's gift to us and keeping it is Guru's gift to us.

We must stand with Brother Jagmohan Singh Ahuja and United Sikhs to end this gross violation of human rights.
To sign the United Sikhs petition to stop this outrage, click here. According to the United Sikhs page, 3353 have signed this petition. Where are the rest of you? Please. This takes only a minute. How many times I have I heard, I'd like to help, but I have no time, no money, whatever. This takes no money and very little time. Can't we unite and do what we can to help this brother and any other Sikh inmates in Florida prisons? So move those fingers on your keyboards and go sign this petition!

Despite Protests City Stands By Inmate Haircut Policy

POSTED: 4:40 pm EDT October 6, 2008
UPDATED: 9:59 pm EDT October 6, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Members of the Sikh religion and the America Civil Liberties Union marched outside the Duval County Jail Sunday, claiming an inmate's religious rights were violated when he was forced to cut his hair and have his face shaved.

Sikhs said Jagmohan Ahuja, a member of their religion, had his long hair cut his beard and mustache shaved while behind bars.

Ahuja, 36, has been held since April 29 on three misdemeanor charges relating to violation of protective order and violation of probation. According to the jail Web site, he is not eligible for bond.

On Monday, the city's attorney released a statement saying, "When an inmate's religious practices compromise the safety and security of our corrections facilities, safety and security must take precedence."

Nonetheless, members of the Sikh religion said they want change.

"We won't stop here until the policy is changed," said Jaspreet Singh of United Sikhs. "It's completely against our religion to cut any hair on our body. It's considered an integral part of our body, part of what you are."

According to reports, when police arrested Ahuja, he told the officer, "I am from Afghanistan and in my country it is perfectly acceptable to beat your wife."

Ahuja is now serving a three-year sentence.

"The state of Florida convicted him and sentenced him to three years in jail. Not three years plus violate his religious rights," Singh said.

On Monday, Channel 4 received the following statement from the city's attorney:

"The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is committed to respecting and accommodating the religious beliefs of all our inmates population. However, when an inmate's religious practices compromise the safety and security of our corrections facilities, safety and security must take precedence. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has a long-standing policy that mandates sentenced male inmates have short hair and wear no head coverings. This policy is consistent with that of many other correctional facilities throughout Florida and the United States. This policy is necessary to assure the safety of all inmates and corrections officers, by limiting an inmate's ability to conceal contraband and/or weapons. This policy has been determined by courts to be lawful. While we fully respect the involved inmate's religious beliefs, the safety and security of our correctional facility must prevail."

06 October 2008

Pictures From Srinigar, Kashmir

No Comment Necessary

Sandeep's Hukamnama

One day when he was about five or six as I was tying up his hairs, our son Sandeep made a request. It went something like this:

Usually this was our special time together when he and I discussed whatever was on his mind. That morning, he was acting a bit distant and distracted. Clearly he had something on his mind. 'Mata Ji, I have a question.' That told me he was very serious. Usually I was mommy or mum.

I stopped my combing and looked at him.

'When you and Papa Ji can't figure out something, you ask Guru Ji, right?'

'Yes, of course.'

'And it's like Guru Ji is really and truly talking just to you?'

'Yes, it's really wonderful. Not always easy to understand, but always to the point if you think about it'

'Can I do that?' He was so young, but he had been taught Gurmukhi for years and he could read it quite well, better than his French or English, in fact. (Remember we lived in Quebec, hence the French.) I wasn't sure how well he could understand all the meaning - after all, he was still a little boy - but certainly he was capable of reading it. He stopped a moment. 'I mean, MAY I do that?'

'You want to take a Hukamnama? I suppose you're knowledgeable enough to do it. And I know you love Guru Ji. Certainly.' I couldn't help but wonder what was so very important to him.

He sat impatiently while I finished his hairs and tied his patka. Then jumped up, ran to the bathroom, washed up and headed straight to Guru Ji's room. I had trouble keeping up with him. So there he was standing there on his tip-toes, still not quite tall enough to open and read. I got him a little stool. He smiled and jumped up on it. 'Perfect!'

I stood there a moment beside him. 'Would you like me to help you?' He gave me that 'Mommy, puh-lease' look. I reluctantly walked away and sat down clear across the room from him.

He closed his eyes for a moment, then reverently uncovered Guru Ji, gently opened him and began his reading, punctuating now and them with a soft, reflective 'hmmm.' After some time, he closed Guru Ji, recovered him, carefully stepped down from the stool, made a matha tek (!).

For the first time, he looked at me. His eyes were shining and his expression was a rather serious-looking smile.

I was dying of curiosity, of course, but only asked, 'Did you get your answer.'

This time a broad, happy grin. 'Oh, yes! Of course!'

Something stopped me from asking more. This was between his Guru Ji and him.

He ran off without saying anything more.

When Mani came home, I told him what had happened. He beamed. 'So Sandeep took his first Hukamnama! So young. And he seemed to understand. What was he asking about?' I admitted that I hadn't a clue.

When Sandeep came in, Mani said that I had told him that he had taken a Hukamnama that day.
That broad, beaming smile and those big, glowing grey eyes. 'Yes. That's right. You know, Guru Ji is wonderful. He really knows what he's talking about.'

And that was that. Every day, I waited for him to volunteer was this was all about. Not a word. Not a clue.

That was this first of many discussions that Sandeep had with his dhan, dhan Guru Ji. Usually he would discuss it with me or his dad, but not this first one. I never did find out what he had asked about, what was on his mind that day. It was just between him and his Guru..

For a very funny read about patkas, go here. Really! It's worth a click!

Pictures of child praying courtesy of Simmal Tree.