Satjeet Kaur informed us of the following cool event. Check out the professionally made promo-video.
LAHIR NY: Move the Movement 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009, 7-11pm
at NJIT Campus Center – Ballroom (2nd Floor)
150 Bleeker Street, Newark, NJ 07102
The Sikh youth of the New York tri-state area would like to invite you to Lahir NY: Move the Movement 2009 The purpose of Lahir 2009 is to commemorate the Sikh Holocaust of 1984 and the violations of human rights that follow. We aim to inspire, educate, and awaken the masses through our community’s talent-encouraging Sikh artists to express themselves through music, art, poetry and other non-conventional ways. We hope to move the movement through the solidarity of our youth and the support of our people. Lahir is a free event and is open to everyone.
For more information, please visit the Lahir 2009 Facebook Page
Sikh Spotting! Russia Today just posted a neat piece on Sikhs, featuring the SALDEF leadership. Go Jasjit and Rajdeep!
I will say that news pieces like this have been produced repeatedly post-9/11. The one about Sikhs at a Brown’s game comes to mind. So on one hand, you can say that things aren’t changing 8 years later, that things are pretty much the same — perhaps Sikhs will always face this issue.
But, in the last week, I’ve been at 2 different, major business meetings, and at both meetings someone approached me and said, “Hey, are you a Sikh?” Both times, I said, “Well yes I am, thanks for noticing.” So I think all the tireless efforts of people that work at organizations like SALDEF and Sikh Coalition, the parents who want to educate schools instead of cut their kids’ hair, the movies, videos, blog posts, tweets, and interfaith gatherings are making a difference.
Sikh Spotting! Here’s an excellent video by whitehouse.gov of the President’s Diwali functions, marking the re-engagement of Asian and Pacific Islanders. You’ll notice friend of Sikh Swim Jasjit Singh, the new executive director (I think) of SALDEF, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, sitting in the front row. You see him clearly when Obama walks in, just forward past the Penn Masala performance (random!) to about 5:09. Go Jasjit! I do see another blue turban in the audience — and I think that may the ever present and active Rajwant Singh of SCORE. Congrats to both of them, way to represent at this event!
So President Obama, in his ‘Diwali Message’ spoke about the significance of Diwali for different faiths, and noted, “let us make a habit of empathy and reach out to those most in need.” With regard to Guru Hargobind, he says, at 0:56, “In Sikhism, Diwali is a celebration of freedom for Guru Hargobind, the religion’s sixth Guru.”
Thanks for the shoutout President Obama! So Obama knows about Sikhs — and he even knows why we celebrate Bandi Chor Diwas. Do you?
Sikh Spotting! Check it out, friend of Sikh Swim, Amarpreet Singh from Philadelphia is on stage at a recent U2 concert. Yeah!
Sikh Spotting! Shakira performs her new song Gypsy. It was recently posted on walmart’s soundcheck site, and it’s not there now but I’m sure it’ll be back. Many folks already posted it to YouTube. One of her musicians in this video is none other than Shamsher Singh, a Sikh from Florida. He also happens to be my bro! Update: It’s also posted on Perez Hilton’s Site.
It’s always great when people I grew up with become newsmakers. In this case, Amitinder Singh, someone I’ve known since childhood, is quoted in the New York Times! Congrats Amit!
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
Published: August 21, 2009
Mandeep Singh was having dinner with a friend in Queens several years ago when the subject turned to their common religion, Sikhism. Mr. Singh had grown up in India unquestioningly embracing the faith of his parents. As a college student in Delhi, he attended a gurdwara, or temple, with a congregation well into the hundreds and a paid staff of a dozen, leaving him feeling devout yet somehow peripheral.
By this time, working as a technology consultant in New York, Mr. Singh had a different sensation, not exactly unsettled but acutely curious. So when his friend mentioned that a local Sikh association had a page on Facebook, not exactly the place Mr. Singh was expecting to find religious direction, he eagerly clicked to it.
The information there, posted by the Manhattan Sikh Association, included one particular phrase that piqued Mr. Singh’s interest: “youth gurdwara.” It led him, on a Thursday night in late 2007, to the rented multipurpose room of a luxury condominium building in Battery Park City.
There, in a setting usually deployed for residents’ meetings and children’s birthday parties, white cloths covered the carpet and white sheeting obscured the mirrors. At the far end of the room sat the hooded wooden platform, or palki, that held the Sikh holy book, the Adi Granth.
What most caught Mr. Singh’s eye, though, were the other members of the congregation, or sangat. They were, like him, young professionals, the BlackBerry crowd, and as the worship service, or diwan, proceeded over the next several hours, these amateur clerics took turns leading the chanting of sacred poetry and the singing of devotional hymns.
Ever since that first visit, Mr. Singh has been a regular participant in the Manhattan Sikh Association’s diwan, which is held the third Thursday of each month. In so doing, he forms one part of the Sikh version of what religion scholars call the emergent movement, a growing trend toward small, nimble, bottom-up, laity-led congregations that especially attract young adults.
In evangelical Christian circles, the movement includes the scores of microcongregations of the Journey. The Jewish version, known as minyanim, or prayer groups, turns up in Brooklyn’s Altshul and Washington’s Tikkun Leil Shabbat, among other places. And for about 300 of the estimated 500,000 Sikhs in the United States, the diwan in Battery Park City is not your chacha’s — in Punjabi, your uncle’s — gurdwara.
“The one thing you feel here is a lot of young blood,” Mr. Singh, now 28 and working as a contracts analyst for Bloomberg LLP, said after last Thursday’s diwan. “Since everyone is your age, you can ask the naïve questions, and by asking, you can learn the underlying principles. It encourages you, because it is being done by your peers.”
Amit S. Guleria offered a similar view. At the age of 26, commuting into Manhattan daily from central New Jersey, working long hours as a construction engineer, Mr. Guleria had sought a religious experience that fit both his generation and his lifestyle.
“When you’re living the life of someone in your 20s, it gives you a different energy,” Mr. Guleria said. “When you go to a traditional gurdwara, you feel more like an observer than a participant. Here, the onus is on us. And that’s a responsibility we want to have.”
The route to such responsibility began in a Greenwich Village apartment in early 2007. The apartment belonged to Pritpal Singh Kochhar, who headed a foundation for Sikh culture and also led international trips for the Sierra Club. The population of Sikhs in the United States was steadily rising, but the American community’s spiritual leader, Yogi Bhajan, had died in 2004. In the vacuum, Mr. Kochhar believed, it was vital for Sikhs to build new congregations.
Using e-mail, social networking and old-fashioned word-of-mouth, Mr. Kochhar put together the initial 15 members of the Manhattan Sikh Association. In October 2007, it held the first diwan in Battery Park City, drawing about 50 people.
“We were wondering, Who are these people? Where are they coming from?” recalled Simi Singh, 43, a product manager at JPMorgan Chase.
The answer to Ms. Singh’s rhetorical question is that they were coming, and still are coming, from the ranks of the young, well-educated and upwardly mobile. The diwan includes doctors, lawyers, bankers, engineers, computer consultants, graduate students and at least one chef. Perhaps half are the American-born children of immigrants, half are immigrants themselves, and either way they have a foot apiece in tradition and dynamism.
For while news media coverage of Sikhs in the United States has tended to focus on controversy — bias crimes against Sikh men, who are mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans, or civil rights suits by Sikhs to allow men to wear turbans and keep beards in various workplaces — the more prevalent, day-in-day-out experience is of finessing the balance between accomplishment and assimilation.
The monthly diwan deftly navigates between heritage and modernity. When worshipers enter with bare feet and covered head, when they bow before the holy book, they are fulfilling centuries-old obligations. The service follows the time-honored sequence of readings, hymns, a discourse called katha, the distribution of the sweet sacramental food karah parshad and finally the sharing of a communal meal known as langar.
But the words of the liturgy are projected from a laptop, both translated into English and transliterated phonetically for the many members who cannot read Gurmukhi, the script of the Sikh religious texts. One set of projections carries the logo “Sikh to the Max.”
The worship leaders, while literate in Gurmukhi and fluent in spoken Punjabi, are not professionals trained in one of India’s Sikh religious colleges. A shifting array of volunteers play the tabla and harmonium and sing the hymns, tasks given over in more institutional gurdwaras to specialists or paid professionals. And while a typical diwan in a conventional gurdwara might last four or five hours, this one held to its announced itinerary, finishing in two.
Its effect was no less for the punctuality. “You get peace of mind here,” said Mandeep Singh. “Even after a day of work, you get the meditative effect.”
I saw this near the top of Yahoo News Most Popular — so Sikhs and non-Sikhs found this story interesting. There are a couple Sikh soldiers that currently guard the queen. Sikhs have a long and storied history in the British armed forces, as you know. Back in the day, British Sikh soldiers were REQUIRED to be Amritdhari. Bet you didn’t know that. It’s true.
This may be one of the oddest things I’ve ever posted. Rajdeep Singh pointed out an interesting video of Robert F. Kennedy’s last campaign event — he was fatally wounded at this event by an assassin. Anyway, at 9:50 in the video, you can clearly see a Sikh man. That’s why this is relevant to Sikh Swim. Kudos to Rajdeep for his keen eye while watching historical footage on YouTube — it shows that Sikhs have long been part of public life in America. Anyone know who this is?
Check out the following links to photos of Darbar Sahib and the solar eclipse:
(5th image: pic of the day): http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/pictures-29/?scp=1&sq=photos%20of%20the%20day&st=cse