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Thursday, June 29, 2006

National Independence Day Parade - An appeal to the entire Washington DC/Baltimore Sikh Sangat

This year again, Sikhs from throughout America will be marching in America’s 2006 Independence Day Parade. If you are in the Washington DC or Baltimore area, please see the flyer below for further information.

Please join in the festivities and help support your Nation.

Sikhs to march in annual Independence Day Parade.

Sikh Research Institute Releases Elementary School Curriculum

San Antonio, TX – 29 June 2006. The seventeenth day of June marked the completion of Sojhi’s first elementary school education resource package. Sojhi, a venture taken by the Sikh Research Institute to increase the effectiveness of Sikh education across the globe embarked on a Sikh education reform approximately 18 months ago. Utilizing the expertise of a team of educators, activists and Sikhi experts, the project produced a curriculum package complete with 300 lesson plans, classroom management tips for teachers, and recommendations on administration of Gurmat and Panjabi Schools across the globe.

The 2nd Sikh Education Symposium unveiled Sojhi’s first elementary school resource package for students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 in Washington DC and welcomed its core team and many supporters, project sponsors and well-wishers. The one-day event was opened with the Guru’s word that was brought to the participants by students from the Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies, one of the 15 sponsors of Sojhi.

Dr. G. P. Singh, a member of the Board of Directors for the Sikh Research Institute, proceeded to highlight Sojhi by sharing his vision of developing an educational environment that fosters young Sikhs to love Sikhi. This love, he explained, could be cultivated through the inspiration of role models, strengthened by the microenvironment of education: “The completion of the first phase of Sojhi marks a great day for the Sikh community. We have put together a piece of the puzzle.”

The Sojhi core team made up of Harinder Singh, Jasmine Kaur, Harliv Kaur, Naindeep Singh and Simran Singh bring together research, experience and educational background to substantiate the process focused project. The standard-based curriculum was put together by these developers raised for the most part in the United States, currently in their 20s and 30s, and with experiences in Gurmat and Panjabi Schools, Sikh camps, and the teaching system in public and private school settings. As a result, the Sojhi curriculum combines Virsa (Sikh Heritage) and Boli (Language Arts) lessons with teaching techniques that are innovative and hands on. This combination gives Gurmat and Panjabi School teachers tools to bring Virsa and Boli to life for their students.

The curriculum is based on two classes of one hour length each, one in Boli and the other in Virsa, which is intended to be taught for two 13-week semesters for a total of 26 sessions. Each grade level has 52 lessons which provide teachers with resources, step-by-step teaching procedures, and hand-outs for students. The five content areas covered in the curriculum are theology, history, musicology, language arts and personal development. The package contains three folders – Boli (Language Arts), Virsa (Sikh Heritage) and Prabandh (Management) along with audio and printable resources CDs.

Having had the opportunity to look through the package, Manjot Kaur Jassal, both a student and a teacher said what she liked best was “looking through the binders and that there is a very gradual process in the level of difficulty and density of the curriculum. It doesn't start out that difficult. But as I went through the binder, especially in the virsa book, I noticed what great information this resource really offers students as they advance through the program over the years.”

The lesson plan developers conducted a Boli and a Virsa lesson for the symposium participants. In an attempt to give participants a feel for how they would be teaching in the classroom, the developers conducted the class as they would for a particular age group, combined with an opportunity to discuss strategies and insights.

After attending the Symposium, Ravneet Kaur Tiwana, a PhD candidate studying Education gave the project a green light. "It is great that the Sojhi Curriculum is process-based because it will give importance to the context of each Panjabi School rather than expecting it to be implemented the same everywhere. I think this type of curriculum recognizes both the similarities and variations in the Panjabi Sikh community in America, which is necessary for any successful form of social action."

Dr. IJ Singh, a Sikh author and the keynote speaker at the symposium emphasized that Sojhi was an amazing achievement for the Sikh Community. “This is the first time we have a systemized program with a process,” Dr. IJ Singh said. Symposium attendees Hardeep Singh called Sojhi ‘a phenomenal step in the right direction,’ and Manmohan Singh marveled at the fact that the program goes ‘into the psyche of the students rather than the teachers.’

The Sojhi teams plans to provide teacher training in teacher preparedness and content in the upcoming months to ensure proper implementation of the curriculum. With their first phase nearing completion with these trainings, they have put into motion their second phase for middle school development.


Sikh Research Institute
Preserve. Celebrate. Inspire.
info@sikhri.org www.sikhri.org
P 210.582.3371 F 210.582.3002

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bhai Rajinder Pal Singh - Tabla Ustaad

Here’s a commercial that I made on the low, but it never made it to the public airwaves. So I figure I’d go ahead and post it here to promote one really nice and cool dude.

Bhai Rajinder Pal Singh is a musician who has mastered the Tabla instrument, which is popularly used in south central Asia. He has trained under the tutelage of Zakar Hussein, a well known popular Tabla musician. Currently Bhai Rajinder Pal Singh performs weekly at Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Rockville, MD.

Bhai Rajinder Pal Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation

Next time you are in the DC area, come and swing by GGSF and check Bhai Rajinder Pal Singh out. He’s a true jem of a musician that cannot be passed up to hear him live.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hey Fool, go design a T-Shirt!

Looks like our friends over at RootsGear are hard at work serving the community with a brand new... contest! Yes! They want to give you $250 dollars! Yes!

But what do you got to do?

Go design a T-Shirt for them yo...

Go design a T-Shirt and make some money tough guy!

Since those guys keep making those hot shirts, now you can make one too and join in their ever growing apparel line. Hit up there website for further contest details.

Sean John? No, its Roots Gear you bama!

SALDEF Addresses Inappropriate Association of Sikh Community and Terrorists with FOX NEWS

06/23/06 - Press Release

Washington, DC – After receiving dozens of complaints from the Sikh community regarding a FOX NEWS story on the arrest of 17 accused Canadian terrorists, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) contacted FOX NEWS to inquire about a misrepresentation on their broadcast. The broadcasted story showed the front of the Ontario Khalsa Darbar - a Sikh Gurdwara (congregational place of worship) as the house of worship the terrorists frequented and also showed members of the local Sikh congregation.

SALDEF was immediately concerned for the safety of the Sikh community across North America who could possibly be targets of hate crimes as a result of the arrests and inappropriate images being displayed by the media. On June 8, 2006 SALDEF contacted the Fox News Correspondent who covered the story expressing disappointment that the news agency would make such a blatant error in depicting the local Sikh community as actor's in the terrorist plot. In an email to SALDEF, the Fox News Correspondent noted, "I did pull our entire crew into the satellite truck and explained to them the difference between a Gurdwara and a mosque. I can assure you they realized the gravity of this situation. I'm very, very sorry. "

Additionally, on June 9, 2006 SALDEF spoke with John Stack, a FOX NEWS Vice President, who expressed similar regret in the mistake and vowed to make a personal inquiry into the matter to assure that it would not happen again. SALDEF thanks the Sikh community who called and emailed us after this incident and also thanks the FOX NEWS personnel for diligently connecting with us to help to address the concerns of the community.

In another broadcast on FOX NEWS on June 10, 2006, Manjit Singh, SALDEF Co-Founder and Acting-Chairman was invited to speak on air regarding legislation sponsored by New York City Assemblyman Dov Hikind supporting the use of racial profiling by law enforcement.

On the show, Mr. Singh noted that, “we must not use valuable national security resources to target innocent American citizens for scrutiny solely based on their race or ethnicity. This policy is widely accepted as ineffective and seeks only to brand a certain demographic of Americans as perpetual terrorist suspects.”

A year ago, Assemblyman Hikind voted in support of legislation (A02486) which would prohibit the New York Police Department from using race and ethnicity as the sole indicators for suspects.

However, Assemblyman Hikind now has introduced legislation which will allow the NYPD to target American citizens who are or are perceived to be of Middle Eastern or Arab background.

SALDEF feels that this legislation is blatantly racist. The London bombings of 2006 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1996, have proven that terrorists come from a wide range of ethnicities, races, and religions. Furthermore, Israeli Defense Forces have deemed racial profiling as an ineffective technique for stopping suicide bombers from claiming the lives of innocent civilians.

In support of this legislation, Assemblyman Hikind was once quoted as stating, “The FBI and authorities have a good idea of who is going to commit terrorism. They all look similar, but everyone is terrified of using the word 'racial.' There is a terrorist profile for a potential suicide bomber, and it's not the 75-year-old grandmother . . . who has an oversized tote bag firmly tucked under her arm.”

Assemblyman Hikind is clearly out of the mainstream of thousands of terrorist experts and police officers who have shown that racial profiling is a failed policy.

SALDEF urges the Sikh community in New York City and across the country to write to Assemblyman Hikind denouncing his legislation.

Founded in 1996 as the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Taskforce (SMART), SALDEF is the nation’s oldest national Sikh American advocacy group. Its mission is to protect the rights of Sikh Americans through legal assistance, legislative advocacy, public education, and ensuring accurate portrayal of the Sikh religion.

Contact: Rajbir Singh Datta
202-393-2700 ext 27

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

India: Don't Torture Sikh Activist Extradited by U.S.

India: Don't Torture Sikh Activist Extradited by U.S.
Author: Human Rights Watch (link)
Published on Jun 20, 2006, 07:18

The Indian government must ensure that its security officials do not torture or mistreat Sikh separatist Kulvir Singh Barapind, who was extradited to India from the United States on June 17, Human Rights Watch said today. The Indian security forces have a long history of mistreating Sikh activists in custody.

Barapind has made credible allegations to a U.S. federal court that, before coming to the United States, Indian security forces in 1988 and 1989 tortured him to stop his political activism and to make him reveal the identities of other Sikh activists.

"Barapind's account of being tortured in the past makes it even more likely that Indian security forces will abuse him again," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "If Barapind has committed crimes he should be prosecuted in a fair trial, but the Indian government must not allow its own forces to break the law to punish him."

Barapind described to the U.S. court how the police suspended him in the air from his wrists with his arms tied behind his back, rolled a wooden log over his thighs to crush his muscles, tore his legs apart at his waist to a 180-degree angle, applied electric shocks, and beat him on the soles of his feet, among other methods. He also submitted evidence that Indian officials tortured his family and friends.

Human Rights Watch said that the greatest risk to Barapind, as with many criminal suspects in India, is during police remand, when suspects are detained at police stations for investigations with minimal oversight. The U.S. State Department's annual country reports on human rights in India have demonstrated a pattern of custodial torture and death of alleged Sikh activists.

"Indian security forces have a long history of abusing criminal suspects and detainees by torturing them," said Adams. "They've used those methods against politically active Sikhs without facing any punishment."


In the early 1980s, armed separatist groups in India's Punjab state demanded an independent nation of Khalistan. These groups were responsible for numerous attacks, including indiscriminate bombings, politically targeted killings and killing of Hindus. The government gave the security forces a free hand to destroy the separatist movement, resulting in widespread killings, "disappearances" and torture.

The Punjab violence peaked in June 1984, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the Indian army into the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the most sacred of Sikh sites, which was being occupied by armed Sikh militants. The brutal battle left nearly 100 Indian security personnel and militants dead, and ended only after most of the militants inside, including militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, had been killed. Some militants were reportedly found with their hands bound and bullets in their heads.

Independent sources estimate that thousands of civilians also perished. The attack soon cost Indira Gandhi her life as two of her Sikh bodyguards assassinated her in October 1984. Blaming Sikhs in general rather than the individuals responsible, members of Gandhi's Congress party organized pogroms against Sikhs in the capital, New Delhi. Victims' groups, lawyers and activists have long alleged state complicity in the violence.

For the next 10 years, the Indian security forces in Punjab targeted for murder, "disappearance" and arbitrary arrest politically active Sikhs and those who stood up for victims and their families. Violence and intimidation have continued at a lower level since then, but many Sikhs continue to talk of fear of the police and security forces and of receiving threats.

The Indian government asked the United States to extradite Barapind, a former student separatist leader in Punjab, on 11 charges of robbery, murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder. Judge Oliver Wanger of the federal district court in California dropped eight of the cases brought against Barapind in the extradition petition, five of them because they fell under the "political offense" exception in the extradition treaty between India and the United States.

In October 2005, the court certified Barapind's extradition in the three remaining cases, involving six murders and one attempted murder. Barapind's lawyers submitted evidence that the witness statements failed to identify Barapind or were procured through duress. They argued that if the United States extradited him knowing that he faced a risk of torture, it would be violating U.S. and international law, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which prohibits the return of individuals to countries where they are at risk of being tortured. The court found that the evidence used to support the three cases against Barapind satisfied the probable cause standard, and the political offense exception did not apply.

Before fleeing to the United States in 1993, Barapind was the national joint secretary of the Sikh Students Federation, a political group advocating for an independent Sikh state. Barapind was detained and allegedly tortured in 1988 and 1989 for his political activities. He went into hiding in 1990. The Indian government accused Barapind of being a member of the Khalistan Commando Force, a militant group at the time; Barapind denies being a member of the group.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Phuket’s Sikh community remembers Guru Arjan Dev

Sikh communities worldwide commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Ajarn Dev by giving away cold drinks.
Sikh communities worldwide commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Ajarn Dev
by giving away cold drinks.

Phuket Gazette (link)

PHUKET CITY: The island’s small Sikh community yesterday marked a particularly special festival in their religion: the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev.

In 1606 Guru Arjan Dev was tortured, on the orders of Emperor Jahangir, by being boiled alive and then forced to sit on a red-hot iron plate, in an effort to make him recant his belief. When this did not work he was thrown into the River Ravi, where he died.

Each year, to commemorate his death – and the fiery torture that preceded it – Sikhs worldwide go out into the streets and give away cold drinks. In Phuket the community chose the fresh market in Phuket City as their venue to give away 200 bottles of cold drinks over a two-hour period.

Anan Singh, who took the photograph, said, “At first people were reluctant to take the drinks from us, thinking that we were selling them. But after we told them that this was a festival of the Sikhs to remember the great Guru Arjan Dev, they would smile gratefully and pick up a drink each.”

Phuket, Thailand16:19 local time (GMT +7)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Holiest Sikh document has new mode of transportation

Fremont temple buys van that will carry Guru Granth Sahib scriptures to the homes of worshippers

By Lisa Fernandez

Contra Costa Times (link)

June 18, 2006

The Sikhs in Fremont have a new van.

It's a gleaming white Ford that seats 12. But this is no ordinary $33,000 vehicle. It transports the community's holiest document, the Guru Granth Sahib, from the majestic onion-domed temple at the foot of the East Bay hills to people's homes for special occasions.

Handymen recently installed a metal altar inside the van. It has a special parking spot. And on Tuesday, a Santa Clara sign maker affixed the outside of the van with yellow and blue lettering so it is now ready for use.

All the fuss is meant to ensure that passengers feel safer traveling with their ancient scriptures propped up on white pillows and securely tied down, instead of clutched on their laps, as has been the practice.

The Guru Granth Sahib is considered the "supreme spiritual authority" of the Sikh faith. So, making sure it gets to where it needs to go -- without being dropped -- is an important task.

"It's very exciting," said Sukhdev Bainiwal, 39, of San Jose, a software engineer and a lay leader at the Fremont Sikh temple. "This is just giving the Guru Granth Sahib more respect."

The Sikhs aren't the only religious community to treat holy writings with respect. If the Jewish Torah is dropped, it's a custom to fast for 40 days. Jewish prayer books and the Muslim Quran are placed above all other books in a pile and even kissed if they touch the ground. Catholics pay special respect to the Book of the Gospels, which is used for readings during Mass.

The Sikhs are unusual though, in that they transport the Guru Granth Sahib with the utmost of care. Even a Torah, which is often decorated in velvet and silver, can be wrapped in a prayer shawl and put in the trunk of a car for traveling.

"Every religion has chosen the everyday things of life and consecrated them," said Fred Parrella, a religious studies teacher at Santa Clara University. "It's a universal need for us to thematize and give expression to the infinite that we sense within us and outside of us. It's a way to transcend the normal day-to-day in our quest for holiness."

Devout Sikhs consider the writings to be a "living guru." In fact, Sikhs believe it's disrespectful to even call the Guru Granth Sahib a book, even though the 1,430 pages are bound like one. It is always called by its full, proper name.

The Fremont temple is home to about 15 Guru Granth Sahibs, which rest on wood-frame beds in a second-story, quiet room apart from the main section of the temple. Special handkerchiefs called rumallahs cover them. White canopies drape from the ceiling. It's as if they are sleeping until they are called upon to be read.

The Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of devotional hymns and poetry, explaining a moral code of how to live. Sikhism is a faith born more than 500 years ago in the northern Indian state of Punjab. Sikhs believe in one God and the teachings of 10 gurus. The equality of all humankind is stressed. Both men and women are forbidden from cutting their hair, so men often tie up theirs underneath colorful turbans.

There are about 23 million Sikhs worldwide, with about 50,000 in the Bay Area.

Typically, the Guru Granth Sahib stays at the temple, or gurdwara, which means "house of the guru" in Punjabi. But they are frequently invited to the homes of Sikhs who want to recite from them on special occasions.

The van is not a religious requirement. At the San Jose Sikh temple, for example, passengers hold the Guru Granth Sahibs tightly in their arms when they travel. In India, most of the big temples have such vehicles. But in smaller, rural villages, Sikhs carry the Guru Granth Sahib atop their heads.

In Fremont, new temple leadership thought it was important to purchase a special mode of transportation. As is customary, a team of five Sikhs, either men or women, will accompany it on its travels, as five is a special number in Sikhism, representing the five pillars of the faith..

Ranjit Singh Kahlon, 44, a Subway restaurant owner in Fremont, knows what it takes to transport the Guru Granth Sahib. About 15 years ago, he was asked to fly with the Guru Granth Sahib back from India and take it to San Jose.

"It's such a spiritual, holy item, you want to make sure you're on your best behavior," he said, "even to make sure you're breathing right."

Although it was an honor, it also made him very nervous. He didn't want to drop it. He barely ate. He tried not to fall asleep. When nature called, he put it in the overhead compartment, which he had asked a flight attendant to clear of anything else.

So, a few years ago, when relatives held a special function, his family selected Singh to transport the Guru Granth Sahib from the temple to their home. He clutched it in the car the entire way.

"Holding it in your lap isn't the best place for it," he said. "The car goes through wiggles, stop signs. Then you worry about coughing, or your body touching it, or your hands flying free."

The new van, Singh said, will alleviate much of the worry. "This is the greatest idea."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sikh charges BBC with misrepresentation

Saturday, June 17, 2006 10:12:13 AM, IANS

Times of India (link)

LONDON: A Birmingham-based Sikh video game creator has accused the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) of misrepresenting a Sikh history-based game he has developed as anti-Muslim.

According to a report in Eastern Eye, an ethnic Indian newspaper in Britain, Taranjit Singh has claimed that BBC's Asian Network, in a show, manipulated and took out of context the content of his game and made it look like one of the "Sikhs killing Muslims".

Singh, who also works as a web researcher in the Museum and Art Gallery at Birmingham, has lodged a complaint with the Office of Communications (Ofcom), Britain's official media watchdog.
"I created this game because books were not enough to educate the youth on the complicated history of Sikh-Muslim tension," he told the newspaper.

"Instead of trying to create discussion and offer a balanced platform for dialogue, they tried to make trouble between two communities."

The game's website describes Sarbloh Warriors as a pioneering Sikh computer game, combining the latest 3D action technology with the historical setting of 18th-century northern India.

Based on true events of the period, a story has been created to take the player back in time and experience how bands of Sikhs were forced to fight back from the brink of extinction, using typical weaponry of the time against the imperial Mughals, who ruled India then.

The game, still under development, is to be released at the end of next year.

Singh, a 27-year-old father, also told the newspaper how he has not been able to sleep for days or eat properly after the programme was broadcast.

"This has brought me to tears because I felt as if I was branded a racist," he said, demanding an apology from BBC. In the website, he describes the creation of this game as his goal in life.

BBC's head of communications, Andrew Bate, meanwhile, told the newspaper: "The BBC Asian Network always aims to cover stories responsibly and with great care. We believe that in this case we did just that so don't believe that an apology is warranted."

Bate was quoted as saying that the story was covered after extensive message board activity discussed the game.

"We tried to explain why it was seen by some to be offensive and always put the game into its historical context."

He also added that Singh was given extensive opportunity to comment on the issue including on Sonia Deol's programme and the network's new daily lunchtime show 'The Wrap'.

"He also called up Anita Rani's phone-in and was allowed on air for some 40 minutes. After the show Singh said it was a 'good debate' and asked for audio footage of the full interviews to put on his website," Bate told the newspaper.

Singh, however, claimed that the 40-minute interview was "edited and taken out of context".

Thursday, June 15, 2006

In Celebration of Freedom’s Martyr

In this era of modern technology, the world as we know it is becoming smaller in many ways. From the comfort of your home, you can easily learn about new cultures, new traditions practiced in distant lands, as well as learn more of the world’s history.

Whether an individual is referred to as religious figure, a staunch leader, or a renowned artist, the world has become familiar with a diverse set of icons that will be captured in history forever.
On June 16th, 2006, the world will be paying tribute to an individual that has quietly earned the ranks of a historical icon that too will live on eternally. This individual’s name is Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and June 16th, 2006 marks the 400th anniversary of his martyrdom.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the Fifth Guru to the religion of Sikhism. Under his leadership in the late 1500s, the Punjab region (an area now divided between India and Pakistan) went through a period of a cultural renaissance and experienced significant economic progress. Guru Arjan went on to create the city of Amritsar, a thriving economic center with a strong interfaith acceptance. Within Amritsar, Guru Arjan went on to architect the creation of Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Harimandar Sahib, which is often referred to as the Golden Temple in the western world. Furthermore, Guru Arjan was a poet who wrote a considerable portion of Sikhism’s holy scriptures. The Guru went on to create the Adi Granth; the first official compilation of Sikhism’s religious and philosophical teachings.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji (right) compiling the Adi Granth with assistance from his devotees.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji (right) compiling the Adi Granth with assistance from his devotees.

But why was he killed?

For anyone who bears the principles of truth and equality, they eventually will be challenged by opposing forces in society. As the popularity of Guru Arjan rose, the Mughal Emperor
Jahangir became fearful of the Guru’s universal message of peace for all, regardless of their faith, class, or gender.

As an act to show his oppressive beliefs, Jahangir ordered the execution of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Jahangir went on to brutally torture the Guru to break the spirits of his followers. For several days on the orders from Jahangir, the Guru was made to sit on an open oven while sand was poured over his burning body.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji peacefully sitting on a burning open oven under the orders of Mughal Emporer Jahangir.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji peacefully sitting on a burning open oven under the orders of Mughal Emporer Jahangir.

However, the Guru’s spirit did not break, even as it cost him his life. The willpower of society prevented people from giving up on the message of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, as the Punjab continued to stride towards creating a lifestyle based on the core concepts of Sikhism.

Interesting enough, it was Father Jerome Xavier, a Catholic Priest who was on a missionary to the Punjab at the time of Guru Arjan, who stated that the Guru is equal to the class of Pope and how society embraced him with love and contentment.

So as Guru Arjan, the first Shaheed of the Sikh faith, won the psychological war against Jahangir, the Guru never deterred from his blessed vision. That is why he will forever be known as the Martyr of Freedom.

Let us all celebrate the lives of individuals like Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who have allowed for the greater good of society to live long and flourish for generations to come.

In loving remembrance of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, 15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606.

Reference links on Guru Arjan Dev Ji
BBC News summary
Sikhs.org summary
SikhiWiki summary

Meanwhile, back in the village...

A Sikh boy plays at the village well in Pawala on a hot summer day in the northern state of Punjab June 14, 2006. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA)

Wed Jun 14, 6:24 AM ET

A Sikh boy plays at the village well in Pawala on a hot summer day in the northern state of Punjab June 14, 2006. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sikh pilgrims enter Pakistan city

BBC News (link)

Tuesday, 13 June 2006, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK

Thousands of Sikhs from India are due to arrive in the Pakistani city of Lahore to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of a religious leader.

Pakistan is willing to allow as many as 5000 Sikhs to enter Lahore

Pakistan is willing to allow as many as 5000 Sikhs to enter Lahore

Nearly 200 Sikhs have already arrived in Pakistan to take part in ceremonies to mark the killing of Guru Arjun Dev.

Last year, nearly 2,000 Sikhs crossed over on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

It was the first time since partition in 1947 that such a procession of Sikhs was granted entry by Pakistan.

Sikhs regard Guru Arjun Dev as one of the holiest martyrs of their faith.

His killing during the rule of Mughal king Jehangir in the early 17th Century triggered a protracted conflict between the Mughal dynasty and the Sikh community.

A BBC correspondent in Lahore says this is the first time the Pakistani government is allowing large-scale movement of Sikhs from India to pay tribute to a saint whose role in history has served as a dividing line between the Sikh and Muslim communities across the subcontinent.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had given instructions to issue visas to as many as 5,000 visitors from India for the anniversary celebrations, according to Pakistani organisers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Indian Sikh pilgrims wave on arrival in Pakistan at Wagah railway station near Lahore June 13, 2006. About 400 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan to take part in the 400th martyrdom day celebrations of the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjun Dev Jee, scheduled to be held at Gurdawara Dera Sahib in Lahore from June 13 to 16. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)

Tuesday June 13th, 2006, 10:09AM EST

Indian Sikh pilgrims wave on arrival in Pakistan at Wagah railway station near Lahore June 13, 2006. About 400 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan to take part in the 400th martyrdom day celebrations of the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjun Dev Jee, scheduled to be held at Gurdawara Dera Sahib in Lahore from June 13 to 16. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)

Indian Sikh pilgrims chant religious slogans on arrival in Pakistan at Wagah railway station near Lahore June 13, 2006. About 400 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan to take part in the 400th martyrdom day celebrations of the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjun Dev Jee scheduled to be held at Gurdawara Dera Sahib in Lahore from June 13 to 16. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)

Tuesday June 13th, 2006, 10:10AM EST

Indian Sikh pilgrims chant religious slogans on arrival in Pakistan at Wagah railway station near Lahore June 13, 2006. About 400 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan to take part in the 400th martyrdom day celebrations of the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjun Dev Jee scheduled to be held at Gurdawara Dera Sahib in Lahore from June 13 to 16. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gurmat Sangeet Camp deep in the heart of Texas...

Go to Camp, Fool!

Looks like the Houston area Sangat is arranging a Gurmat Sangeet Camp from August 1st through 4th of this year. This event is being organized by both the Raj Academy and the Houston Sikh Sangat.

It's mission is to introduce and promote the rich musical tradition of Sikhism's Gurus and the classical string instruments that were utilized/invented or modified during their time.

This is an opportunity for all to come learn Raag Kirtan in Classical Sikh Instruments. For four days, Sikhs from different areas of the world, of different ages, and of different walks of life, will get the opportunity to come together, and engage in an intense learning program in which they will learn how to play Classical Instruments such as the Saranda, Taus, Dilruba, Sarangi, and Punjabi Pakhawaj. Campers will learn Raagas (Vocally and Instrumentally), understand the significance of Gurmat Sangeet, and experience first hand our Classical Musical Heritage.

For further information, please visit www.sikhcamp.org.

SIKH: The world's fifth-largest religion

Richmond Times-Dispatch, (link)
Sunday, June 11, 2006

The whispers gave way to slurs.

"Hey, where you going, bin Laden?" one student hollered.

"What's that tennis ball doing on your head?" another sniped.

Anoop Kochar, who will graduate with honors from Clover Hill High School on Thursday, never flinched. Not to "towel head" or to the curious stares. Instead, he used the incidents as opportunities to educate his classmates about his faith.

"I told them, 'It's not a tennis ball, it's my hair,'" said Anoop, who will enter the College of William and Mary in the fall. "Usually, once you confront them in an adult fashion, they say they are sorry."

Anoop, 18, is a Sikh. Sikhism, the world's fifth-largest religion, has more than 20 million followers, of whom 500,000 live in the United States. But it took a case of mistaken identity after the terrorist attacks in September 2001 for many Americans to notice them. Because Sikh men wear turbans and don't shave their facial hair, some concluded they were followers of perhaps the world's best-known figure in a turban, Osama bin Laden, Muslim fundamentalist and suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 hijackings.

But few Arabs or Muslims in the United States wear turbans. According to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 99 percent of people wearing turbans in this country are Sikhs who have no connection to bin Laden.

"But after 9/11, the number of Sikh students being bullied and harassed skyrocketed," said Preetmohan Singh, senior policy analyst for the Interfaith Alliance in Washington. "All children should be proud of who they are and where they come from."

To teach others about his faith, Anoop participates in panel discussions at local churches. He has helped plan summer camps designed to teach diversity through the Interfaith Alliance and has appeared in a video, "The Sikh Next Door." The film, produced by the Lohgarh Sikh Educational Foundation, is being sold to schools, libraries and businesses across the country. More than 500 copies have been sold in two years.

"I feel a lot of people don't open their doors unless you open them for them," Anoop said. "By doing this, we are exposing people to different ideas and different cultures. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I just want to give them a different perspective on life."

The documentary uses ordinary teenagers, like Anoop, to explain Sikhism and promote diversity in the classroom. It opens with a young woman asking people in New York's Times Square what they know about Sikhs. The answer? Not much.

"Young lady," one man answers, "I've never heard about a Sikh in my life." The video goes on to explain the Sikh faith and how it evolved.

Sikhs migrated to America from India in the 1800s. Anoop's parents, Paul and Brindra, came in 1975 and lived in West Virginia before settling in Chesterfield County 23 years ago.

"Some people encouraged me to change, to cut my hair and blend in with society," said Paul Kochar, a senior research engineer. "But I didn't want to do that. These are my beliefs. I'm proud of them."

Anoop has attended temple with his parents and older sister, Aveena, since he was an infant. He found it boring as a child, but with age, he said, have come wisdom and an appreciation for what's important in life. For Anoop, what's important is the Sikh faith, which stresses that all people - men and women - and all faiths are equal in the eyes of God.

"I believe God is in each human being," Anoop said. "Therefore, you need to treat each person with respect."
Because Sikhs consider their hair a gift from God, they never cut it. Men don't shave their beards; Anoop keeps his close to his face with gel.

He combs out his waist-length black hair, pulls it into a ponytail, twists it into a bun and tucks it neatly inside a turban. Often he wears a patka - a thin, scarf-like headcovering that younger Sikhs wear before graduating to a turban - under his turban.

This process is part of Anoop's daily routine. "Not doing it is not an option. It's like, should I get up in the morning and not brush my teeth? No, that's just gross!"

Wearing a turban is optional for Sikh women, but Sikh men can't leave the house without at least a patka. "Growing up, I remember people asking questions," Anoop said. "It forced me to grow up a little bit younger, to become confident and self-assured. Now, everyone knows me. I want them to see I'm just an ordinary guy."
He listens to country music - Keith Urban is his favorite - drives a Montero Sport, plays basketball, soccer and baseball, enjoys watching "ER" and "Law and Order" on television, and takes in the latest movies with his friends. His bedroom walls are covered with family photos and posters of sports cars, Eminem and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Once a week, he volunteers at the Forest View Volunteer Rescue Squad in Chesterfield. He assists paramedics on calls and offers comfort to patients.

"He's a regular guy," said Michael Mahoney, one of Anoop's classmates and friends. "It's disappointing when people jump to conclusions. They think a turban means something bad. I wish they'd take the time to learn the truth, to know him."

Anoop is patient.

"It's important to understand and appreciate other ideas," he said. "Otherwise, people will live their life just one way. I feel people should open their doors to different ideas. When you do, you can look back on your life and know you lived it to the fullest."

Contact staff writer Janet Caggiano at jcaggiano@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6157.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Support the SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival

SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival

Our friend Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa and the Sikhnet Team are hard at work (as usual) promoting a new initiative geared towards the Sikh youth. In partnership with the Spinning Wheel Film Festival, this tiger team has arranged the first ever SikhNet Youth Film Festival. All films will be promoted online from the SikhNet website, which gets tons of hits everyday.

So with summer here, get that camcorder out and submit your works. It doesn’t matter if it is serious or silly, just film, have fun, and submit your works. Most people are already familiar with using popular video websites such as YouTube or Google Video. Just make sure to upload your video to one more spot, the SikhNet Youth Film Festival.

Did I also mention that there are cash prizes involved as well?

Cash Prizes!
Senior Division (18-25 years old)
First prize $1000 / Second $500 / Third $250

Junior Division (11-17 years old)
First prize $500 / Second $250 / Third $125
(Amounts in US Dollars)

Below is a summary of the event, more information can be learned by viewing the Film Festival’s website.

Submit those film works now sucka!

May 18, 2006 - SikhNet.com, a well known resource for all things Sikh on the Web, in partnership with the Toronto based Spinning Wheel Film Festival, opened submissions today for the first-ever online Sikh Youth Film Festival. The theme of the festival is "What being a Sikh means to me" and this young filmmaker's competition for Sikh Youth (up to age 25) is designed to encourage and inspire Sikh youth to get involved in media and film and use their creativity to produce interesting and educational short films based on their own personal experiences and designed to spread the spirit of the Sikh lifestyle. SikhNet hopes to inspire youth to get involved in the world of film and media and to continue to use it for the benefit of the Sikh community.

The genesis of the festival came both from the proliferation of short videos appearing on the Web at sites such as Google Video and YouTube and also the viewing of a short film created by a young Sikh woman for a college roundtable project. Tapping into the creativity of Sikh youth worldwide is one of SikhNet's primary goals.

SikhNet is looking for videos that come out of the entrants' own personal experiences and that are designed to move and inspire viewers. Cash prizes up to $1000 in both Senior Division (18-25 years old) and Junior Division (11-17 years old) will be awarded when the festival ends on September 1st, 2006.SikhNet hopes that this good-spirited competition will become an annual event drawing entrants from all around the world.

Click here to get started

Buy the DVD, "The Rise of Khalsa"

Here is a DVD that is a must for every Sikh household. Below is the trailer for "The Rise of Khalsa," created by Vismaad.

The Rise of Khalsa Trailer

You can purchase (and please do) the DVD by visiting The Rise of Khalsa website.


Banda Singh Bahadur in 'The Rise of the Khalsa'

The animated movie “The Rise of Khalsa” has the distinction of being the first ever movie made on legendary Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. The movie is produced by Vismaad; who brought “Sahibzadey: A Saga of Valor & Sacrifice”; the first ever animated movie on Sikh history. When reminded about these firsts Director, Sukhwinder Singh said: “Sewa first. It is Waheguru ji’s grace and Sikh Sangat’s blessings that we are bestowed this great sewa to bring forth our remarkable history”.

Vismaad is an IT SOLUTIONS & CONSULTING COMPANY promoted by three Gursikh IT professionals. Singapore based Bakhtawar Singh says "We realized that contemporary Sikh generations know very little about Sikh history and what better way than animation to meet this objective." “Sahibzadey” was highly appreciated by Sikh Sangat and gave us courage to embark on our second project “The Rise of Khalsa”.

“The Rise of Khalsa” takes you along Baba Banda Singh ji’s journey from his first meeting with Guru Gobind singh ji at Nanded to conquering of Sirhind. Guruji ordained Babaji to reach Punjab and reorganize the Khalsa forces to put an end to tyranny and injustice.
Recently a Movie preview was shown at Mohali to a select audience comprising Military Generals, Industrialists, Educationists and representatives of various Sikh organizations.
After watching the movie Major General M.S. Kandal (retd) said “An enthralling tribute to a great Sikh General. It’s amazing to watch Baba Banda Singh ji’s military acumen portrayed so well through animation. Well done boys! Keep the good works going!!”

According to Navnit Singh animation is the most effective medium when it comes to teaching History to today’s kids. Why kids? We had even adults calling us to tell how “Sahibzadey” made them ponder over their ignorance about a vibrant Sikh History.

“The Rise of Khalsa” is due for worldwide release on 21-May-06. Premier shows are planned at major cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Fremont, Los Angeles, New York, London and Singapore.

For More Details Please Visit http://www.riseofkhalsa.com/

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Golden message from the Golden Temple


On The Spot - Tavleen Singh

Thursday, June 08, 2006 10:29:47 IST

I learnt from this visit to the temple that we have not learned lessons. On the basis of caste and creed, our political leaders continue to allow a sense of grievance to build up and then use the inevitable explosion for political ends

Last week I visited the Golden Temple after an absence of many years. I went with my sister, a religious Sikh, to whom the temple is only a sacred place. Her memories of it are not scarred by the violence of the early eighties that I remember as if it were yesterday. In the pilgrim spirit she looked for signs on the long drive from Delhi that her pilgrimage took place at an auspicious moment and the omens were good. A dust storm on the GT Road produced a silver lining at the edge of dark clouds, a rainbow appeared a little later and no sooner did we enter the temple, late in the evening, than it started to rain. "It is shubh" said my sister "it is auspicious for it to rain."

As the purpose of my visit was to search for signs of people in the temple who might be commemorating the 22nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar (June 6, 1984) the rain hampered my investigations. So I went back again early the next morning and instead of entering through the main entrance took the road of the serais that leads to the Guru Ram Das Serai, that once was a centre of militant activity, and the Guru Nanak Niwas where Sant Jarnail Singh Bindranwala once resided in a penthouse suite.

Memories of Bluestar
Memories flooded back as I walked past the Guru Ram Das Serai. I remembered that it was here, in a spartan room on an upper floor, that I interviewed General Shabeg Singh just weeks before Operation Bluestar. He was bitter about the manner in which he, a war hero, had been dismissed from the army on charges so flimsy they were thrown out of court. He won his cases but remained bitter about what had happened and was more than ready to help Bhindranwala fortify the temple against an attack.

Last week there were only pilgrims in the serai. They drank sweet, milky tea out of large steel glasses and wandered about the courtyard seemingly oblivious of the death and terror that had once infected the air. The only remainder of that terrible time were a few bullet holes that still pockmark the serai's whitewashed facade and it is easy to miss these unless you are looking for them. I was looking because I remember the blackened facade I saw when I came here the week after Operation Bluestar.

After Operation Bluestar made Bhindranwale temporarily into a Sikh hero vendors of religious paraphernalia used to sit on the pavement outside the serais and sell pictures of him. This time there was no sign of them and no sign of anyone with connections to the militancy. The Guru Nanak is unrecognisable to those of us who knew it in the old days. Then, it was a grubby building whose dark corridors teemed with young men armed with Sikh swords and automatic weapons. They guarded Bhindranwale and acted as his stormtroopers. Today, the Guru Nanak Niwas glistens with fresh, whitewash and new glass windows and there is not an armed man in sight.

Opposite it, has risen a new serai that is so posh and white it looks as it has been built exclusively for well-heeled Sikhs from foreign lands. It conceals the Manji Sahib entrance to the temple which was used to bringing tanks when it seemed like the Akal Takht would not fall. It was the tanks that changed the course of the battle and after it was over those militants who managed to escape in the last moments told journalists that in the early hours of June 6 Bhindranwale and his lieutenants, General Shabeg Singh and Amreek Singh, had come out into the forecourt and when they saw the damage decided that they would come out into the firing line and make their last stand. They sensed perhaps that after having caused the destruction of the symbol of Sikh political independence they were better off dead.

The Indian army did not know that the Akal Takht was built a foot higher than the throne of the Moghul Emperor in Delhi. It was more important than the temple but Bhindranwale and his colleagues did. Their bodies were found in the forecourt of the Akal Takht on the morning of June 6 and Operation Bluestar was over.

When I saw the Akal Takht, on that first trip to the temple after Bluestar, it was a blackened, gutted husk of a building. Mrs. Gandhi ordered her faithful Sikh Home Minister, Buta Singh, to rebuild it but when the temple was returned to the Sikh community it was torn down and built again with kar sewa. Today it is a shiny white building with gold domes and the entrances that led out into the city from the old Akal Takht, and through which many militants escaped, have been sealed.

Lessons (un)learnt
And, what did I learn from this anniversary visit to the temple? That we have not learned the lessons of that time. On the basis of caste and creed, our political leaders continue to allow a sense of grievance to build up and then use the inevitable explosion for their political ends. A sense of grievance is being allowed to build among Muslims and our "secular" leaders are encouraging this by surveys that seek to establish that their per centage in the army and in government is too low. Where caste is concerned, Arjun Singh has just played a grievance card that we will pay heavily for in coming times. They are right when they say Indians have no sense of history.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

March commemorates temple attack


BBC News. Last Updated: Saturday, 3 June 2006, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK

Thousands of Sikhs are expected to take part in a march and rally in central London on Sunday.

The Remembrance March will commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Indian army's attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar - the holiest Sikh shrine.

Sikhs of all ages are expected to attend the march, from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square.

At the rally, Sikhs, who make up 3% of India's population, will be calling for the right to self-determination.

On 6 June, 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the army into the temple to flush out militants.

There has never been agreement on the numbers killed, but Sikhs say thousands were massacred by Indian troops, many of them innocent bystanders.

The military action 21 years ago led to Mrs Gandhi's assassination later that year by her Sikh bodyguards.

That in turn triggered a wave of anti-Sikh rioting which left nearly 3,000 dead.

Separatist slogans at Bluestar anniversary


By Indo Asian News Service

Amritsar, June 6 (IANS) Slogans for a separate Sikh state were raised inside the Golden Temple complex to mark the 22nd anniversary Tuesday of Operation Bluestar, the June 1984 Indian Army assault on the Golden Temple to flush out terrorists holed up in the shrine.

The annual remembrance ceremony organized by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) at the Golden Temple complex culminated in chaos when a number of young Sikhs unsheathed their swords and raised separatist slogans.

Golden Temple head priest Joginder Singh Vedanti's failure to specifically mention the names of the late fundamentalist preacher like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale during his address apparently offended the hardliners.

Bhindranwale and his armed supporters, who many Sikhs revere as martyrs, were killed during Operation Bluestar and the hardliners have been demanding that a befitting memorial be raised for them.

Though the SGPC had promised a memorial inside the Golden Temple complex almost two years ago, it has maintained a careful silence on the issue following vehement criticism from many quarters.

Harnam Singh Dhumma, chief of the Damdami Taksal Sikh seminary once headed by Bhindranwale, also criticized the SGPC and the head priest for glossing over the 'great sacrifices' of the militants who were killed combating Indian Army soldiers in June 1984.

He also offered to construct a Minar-e-Shaheedan commemorative column if the SGPC publicly acknowledged its incapacity to do so.

Addressing devotees after the official SGPC function, radical Sikh politician

Simranjit Singh Mann reiterated his demand for an independent Sikh nation of Khalistan.

Clearly unmindful of the sedition cases instituted against him following a similar speech at the Bluestar anniversary last year, Mann insisted that 'azaadi' (independence)' was the right of the Sikhs and reiterated his demand for 'Khalistan as an independent buffer state between India and Pakistan'.

Overshadowed by the vociferous hardliners, the moderate Sikh leadership, headed by former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, preferred to keep a low profile and only spoke out briefly against the Congress party and its role in ordering the army into the Golden Temple.

The function ended with devotees rushing to grab copies of posters and calendars bearing images of the destruction caused during Operation Bluestar, alongside portraits of Bhindranwale and Shabeg Singh, the former army major general who helped plan and build the militant defences before Operation Bluestar

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Sikhs' version of 666

The following is a break from the norm regarding the intent and purposes of this blog. However, this deviation is utmost justifiable.

Some may look at the day of June 6th, 2006 as a Biblical reference as the mark of the Beast, or the Devil (666). However, to the Sikh community, June 6th will always be a sad day when reflecting at their recent modern history. June 6th, 2006 brings the 22nd anniversary of the attack of the Golden Temple (technically known as the Harimandar Sahib), the Sikh’s holiest shrine.

Between June 4th and 7th in the year of 1984, India’s Armed Forces laid siege on the complex of the Golden Temple to remove a group of Sikhs that were labeled as a threat to India’s national security. Under the watch of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian Army physically attacked the Golden Temple complex on June 6th, 1984. In the process of the attack, much of the grounds were left in complete ruins due to the lengthy firefight between both factions. A tragically sad consequence of these events is the murder of innocent pilgrims who perished due to the Indian Army’s attack while visiting the Golden Temple during this time period as it coincided with a major Sikh religious holiday. Worst was that the Akal Takhat, a building which has significant spiritual and historical value to Sikhism, was destroyed due to mortar rounds fired by tanks of the Indian Army.

To put it into perspective, imagine if the Wailing Wall, the Vatican, Mecca, or any other of the World’s religious institutions were destroyed to mere rubble and debris.

The destroyed Akal Takhat. Image courtesy of SikhiWiki.org

Unfortunately, this imaginary thought is an actual reality for the Sikhs. June 6th, 1984 will always be a day in which hell did indeed flourish on Earth at a sanctuary reserved for prayer and worship.

Many historians have documented in great detail as to how the Temple was desecrated, how the spirits and hearts of Sikhs were wounded in their Indian homeland, and how could failed diplomatic measures “justify” the need for extreme actions that will be etched into many minds forever.

After the attack, Pope John Paul II quickly renounced the extreme measures taken by the Indian Government stating that no military actions should ever be taken on the grounds of any religious institutions.

And it is extreme measures that can demoralize any society and challenge its social structures of comradery, nationality, and compassion.

Since the post 1984 era, there have been many viewpoints that have been embraced by different parts of the Indian society, both in its Nation and abroad. Some have called to the notion of separatism, some have embraced draconian viewpoints that invokes a sense of alienation within society, while others choose to remain quiet in hopes that this time period would pass like the dark times of India’s and Pakistan’s Partition.

However, one missing viewpoint must also be inserted into the discussion when reflecting on the events of 1984, which is remembrance.

Although it may be impossible to heal wounds that are permanent, there is a distinct need for all to remember the atrocities committed in that difficult time period of India. Without a sense of remembrance, some may continue to feel alienated or isolated from society. Rather, society should accept the events that have happened and learn from the mistakes committed at that time.

After all without the concept of remembrance, it can foolishly lead individuals to think that acts of evil can go without accountability, as with the case of the 2002 violence in Gujarat.

Several links have been compiled on RestoringThePride to focus on remembrance of the attack that occurred on the Golden Temple in 1984. Do take time to read and understand what exactly occurred in June 1984.

One can only hope that 22 years later, society as a whole can come together to remember this unfortunate time so that these events are never repeated again.

"Storming The Temple," as aired on The History Channel.
85.4 MB video file download (.wmv)
Courtesy of SaintSoldiers.net

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The War Tapes

Here's a film that is gaining a series of press that everyone should see. The War Tapes covers the story of three National Guardsman while on military service within Iraq. The most interesting aspect of this piece is that it is covered directly from the Guardsman's perspective. In a world with so much news media saturation, it is sometimes difficult to form opinions with so many different sources. This film potentially (and I do hope) may truly show a view from the ground perspective, which will be different from what we are use to seeing in the news.

However from the press I've read is that this film it is not for the faint of heart and is graphic. Actual scenes are shown of firefights between American Forces and Insurgents.

Regardless of what your views are on the war, I know we all have a deep found respect for those who serve their Nations. And from this perspective (my personal viewpoint), a film like this should be viewed to probably have a slight appreciation for those who serve.

Check The War Tapes website for screenings near you.

The War Tapes Trailer

Quicktime and Windows Media Player trailers available.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sikh attacked


Sikh attacked
By Maddy Biddulph

Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia
Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia

A Sikh man was verbally abused by two racist thugs and had his turban torn off while up to 40 onlookers stood by and did nothing.

The attack on Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia in Oxford city centre comes a day after 19-year-old student Tom Grant was stabbed to death on a train after going to somone's aid.

Mr Ahluwalia was waiting at a bus stop outside HSBC bank in Queen Street at midnight on Sunday when a man started swearing and shouting racist insults at him.

The stranger grabbed hold of the 26-year-old's turban a traditional head-dress worn as a sign of devotion to God and threw it on the pavement.

As Mr Ahluwalia struggled to defend himself, another man waved his fists in his face and also shouted racist abuse.

The former student, who was heading home to Whitson Place, Cowley, after a day of praying in London, was shocked none of the people around him tried to help.

He said: "I was really scared. No-one showed any sympathy. There were at least 30 to 40 people and no-one did anything.

"He could have stabbed me."

He was not seriously injured but has been left traumatised and shaken by the attack.

He added: "A turban is part of a Sikh's religion, our costume. What that man did was the biggest sign of disrespect and the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me in my life."

Mr Ahluwalia, who moved to the city to study for a Masters at Oxford Brookes University, has also criticised the police for not understanding the significance of what happened to him.

He said when the officers arrived, he was standing against the wall petrified to be seen in public with his hair exposed, but was forced to run over the road to meet them.

Mr Ahluwalia said: "I always thought this was the best city I have ever been to in my life. Now I will not go out late at night on my own."

This is the first time Mr Ahluwalia has been physically attacked.

Oxford police spokesman Kate Smith said officers attended the racially-aggravated common assault on Sunday at 12.12am but no arrests hade been made.

She added: "We take all racist incidents extremely seriously and a thorough investigation is under way."

The attack has been condemned by members of the Sikh community, including Gurdip Singh Saini, vice-chairman of the Asian Cultural Centre in East Oxford. He said: "It is very shocking. These sorts of incidents are increasing day by day in the UK and it is getting worse. It is all the more wrong that no-one came to his rescue."

Anyone with information should call Pc Chris Miles via 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Shout out to Dr. Patricia Tabler and her Anthropology 142 class

While surfing the uncharted waters of the big bad Internet, I came across Dr. Patricia Tabler's Anthropology 142 class website over at University of California, Santa Barbara. Anthropology 142 is all about the Peoples and Cultures of India. While skimming the Notices section, Sikhism was the topic on 05/27. And behold, the Sikh on the Street was covered there.

So study hard students of Anthropology 142. You never know what may make it to your final exam.

By the way, do you know what a Sikh is? Not sure? Maybe this video can help.