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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Way too weird…

Now here's a treat if any of you have met Sartaj in real life. The following M.C. Escher self portrait from 1922 has a very eerie resemblance to one of the mind's behind Dashmesh Pictures. See for yourself...

M.C. Escher woodcut based Self Portrait from 1922.
M.C. Escher Self-Portrait 1922 woodcut

Like I said, way too weird man!

Camp helps Sikh youth find comfort in America

Release Date: 07/29/2006 06:55:36 AM PDT
News Source: InsideBayArea.com

By Jonathan Jones, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area

FREMONT — Karandeep Singh Sasan stood outside the Gurdwara Sahib of Fremont in traditional garb: a blue robe and turban, an iron bracelet and a sword.

"What's up," the energetic young Sikh said to a visitor. Then, he explained: "I always say, 'What's up' when somebody new comes to the gurdwara. I want to make friends with everyone who comes here."

Multiethnic societies stress tolerance, respect and understanding for cultural differences, but many communities also are teaching their youth to understand their heritage and roots so they can educate the greater community.

That was evident Friday among the 270 youth who participated in the Sikh summer camp.

For six weeks, these children, some in hip-hop T-shirts and others in NBA basketball jerseys, have spent their time at the gurdwara, where they learn math, martial arts, creative writing and scriptures.

Ram Singh, a member of the gurdwara's Supreme Council, said those born in the United States practice reading the sacred Gurmukhi scriptures in Punjabi, while newcomers to America also can use this time to brush up on their English.

The camp is the brainchild of Union City residents Sarabjit and Pritam Singh Cheema, who urged the gurdwara's leaders to encourage young adults to volunteer to mentor and counsel the younger ones in Sikh traditions.

Pritam Cheema said he hopes the camp gives Sikh youth a sense of belonging and an opportunity to make new friends, as well as give parents some much-needed breathing room.

"As a parent, I always felt like my kids had to get out of the house," Pritam Cheema said. "If they don't, they'll sit in front of the TV or by the computer all day, and I wasn't comfortable (with that)."

On Friday, after praising their gurus, the children received certificates of recognition for spending their summer at the camp.

Some of the younger campers, many of whom are recent immigrants, said the camp has helped them to understand how to deal with discrimination.

Pawanjot Kaur, 10, moved to the United States from India in December with her mother and 18-year-old brother to live with their father. When she went to school, she said she struggled to make friends and talk to the teacher because of her English skills.

"At first I felt like America wasn't my country," Kaur said. "But now I feel like it's my country. At the gurdwara, I get to see a lot of other kids and make new Indian friends and I play with them. When I come to the gurdwara, it feels like I'm in India."

Organizers say they hope to stress community involvement and loyalty to their religion, as well as help the children see that they're not alone.

"We're living in two cultures," said Pritam Cheema, referring to the Indo-American experience. "Sometimes (Sikhs) come to America and feel like they're alone. So when they come here, it provides an opportunity for these kids to meet each other and learn their history and traditions so that they understand their identity."

AUTUR SINGH spins a chakkar, used in a Sikh martial art called gatka, as he and fellow students rehearse their skills for a performance during summer camp.  (Anda Chu - Inside Bay Area Staff)

AUTUR SINGH spins a chakkar, used in a Sikh martial art called gatka, as he and fellow students rehearse their skills for a performance during summer camp. (Anda Chu - Inside Bay Area Staff)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Personnel Profile: Satinder S. Malhi

Release Date: 07/27/06
News Source: Capitol Weekly

By Capitol Weekly Staff

NAME: Satinder S. Malhi
JOB TITLE: Legislative aide for Sen. Jackie Speier

Capitol Weekly: Where did you
grow up?
Satinder S. Malhi: I was actually born in a suburb of London. Both my
parents are from India. We emigrated here when I was six months old and
settled in the Bay Area. So I'm a California kid for all intents and

CW: How did you start out working in the building?
SM: I started off in her office as a Senate Fellow in 2004. I was in her
office through the duration of the fellowship and at the conclusion she
graciously extended an offer for me to become a "real life" staff member.
Now I'm a legislative aide primarily focused on higher-education policy, but
I've also done consumer protection as well. And I've assisted with
communications. It's certainly exciting. I'm just very blessed to work with
such a dynamic and gifted law maker.

CW: What attracted you to state
SM: I'd always been interested and involved in politics. Don't let the beard
fool you--I'm only 26. I've had a very active interest in politics since I
was a teenager. My late father sparked my desire; he was a labor activist
and served as the chief negotiator for the Oakland Teacher's Union. I got to
see him work tenaciously for the teachers in the school district. So I was
exposed to that at a very early age.

CW: Tell us about your involvement with the Sikh religion.
SM: As far as I have been able to tell, I'm the only Sikh in the Capitol.
Sen. Speier has been often quoted that she is proud to have helped break the
turban barrier. I feel as if I'm not only representing myself, but an entire
community. You look at most Sikhs today and a career path in public service
in the United States is not something that they aspire towards. I hope to be
able to change that. I want to show my generation in particular the
importance and pressing need for them to be active in government and

CW: What challenges or prejudices do you face as a practicing Sikh?
SM: Getting into the building was a bit daunting early on. But I've had a
chance to talk to security personnel in the building and address any
concerns that they have. When I first started in the office, some people
walked in and said they wanted to meet with one the senator's staffers, but
wouldn't meet with me.

CW: How did you respond?
SM: I was the consummate professional as I always am. I explained to them
who I was and that I was in fact an American no different than them. That's
how you have to go about it. Hopefully, I've left a positive impact on them.

CW: How has being in the Capitol helped you shatter misconceptions about
SM: Part of my job here I'd like to say to wipe the, "Oh s*&# I'm going to
die look off their faces." I would hope there are more people in the Capitol
now who know about Sikhs than when I first arrived here. And that to me is
enormously gratifying.

Ninety-nine percent of folks you see in the United States who wear turbans
are followers of the Sikh faith (and have nothing to do with terrorism
whatsoever). I've never viewed my faith as a burden, but as an asset and an
integral part of my identity.

September 11 impacted the entire country. But it proved to be especially
difficult on the Sikh community in the United States who were sought out and
targeted because of our appearance, including, I might add, a good family
friend of mine who was shot to death in Arizona four days after the attacks.
It was at that point, that we realized that we needed to be more proactive
in educating our fellow citizens.

Working in the Capitol has given me the opportunity to do just that. I am
more confident in my ability to confront others when they speak despairingly
about me because I wear a turban and beard. But that's the beauty of being
in the United States--you have a right to practice any religion you want and
be proud of who you are.

Sikhism is fifth largest and one of the youngest religions in the world.
Sikhism is a distinct and separate faith from Islam and Hinduism. The vast
majority of the world's 24 million Sikhs reside in the Indian state of
Punjab. Sikhism's central belief is that there is one God and stresses the
value and importance of work, worship and service as well as a fundamental
respect for all peoples and faiths.

West takes to Sikh martial art

Release Date: 07/26/06
News Source: Rediff.com

Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi | PTI | July 26, 2006 | 12:31 IST

The traditional Sikh martial art of 'gatka' is finding many takers in USA, UK, France and Germany where it is being taught as a science of combat for self-defence.

So much is its popularity that in 2005, 60 Sikh men, women and children performed 'gatka' at the American Independence Day parade in Washington, DC.

Teams from across Britain took part in this traditional Sikh martial art tournament in Oldbury in March 2006.

Gatka is the name of a stick used to practice sword-fighting.

It originated in Punjab in the 15th century, but much of the gatka forms practised today in the West are Europeanised versions of what was the original martial art of Sikhs known as Shastar Vidyaa.

Experts here say gatka, which helped Sikhs defend themselves against Mughal invaders, has eventually evolved into a sport and exhibition form that is shown at Sikh festivals and is shorn of the ancient and actual combat skills.

"Gatka has been passed down as a tradition among the Sikh generations. With the emigration of Sikhs to western countries, gatka has grown again in the hearts and minds of the new generation of Sikhs. Martial artists in the West are slowly beginning to recognise gatka and inquire about it," says Kawaljeet Singh of Taran Taran based International Veer Khalsa Gatka Dal.

"However, there it is practised as a hobby and sport. NRIs come to us from England, Hong Hong, France to learn gatka and they in turn go back to teach the groups there, which includes both Sikh children and foreigners," Singh told PTI.

Singh's group includes 400 gatka experts, the youngest one�being a five-year old. Though such things do not have a place in present day warfare, Singh says, "Gatka is very much relevant today. It is like any other martial art. It keeps both your mind and body fit. Moreover, since it was started by Sikh gurus, it is a part of our culture, which we need to learn," he says.

Nanak Dev Singh of Berlin based International Gatka Federation said they conduct research, teacher training and the promotion of gatka, including classes, workshops and camps and sword raising ceremonies.

The organisation was founded in 1982 and formalised in 1987. Weekly classes are held in Berlin, Hamburg (Germany) and Bordeaux (France), he says on his Web site.

Hamburg based Kirtan Singh and Wolfgang Frank have been practising this art together since years as a hobby.

"It has become a part of our life," say the duo on their Web site. They are teaching it now to groups across Hamburg.

Weekly camps to teach gatka are held in Berlin, Hamburg (Germany) and Bordeaux (France) by the International Gatka Federation. Local groups also teach gatka in San Jose, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and California.

However, Singh rues that there are not many takers for this martial art in India. "It is only taught in few Sikh schools and that too for some performance at the religious processions once or twice a year."

Jathedar Gurcharan Singh, a gatka teacher, in New Delhi says, "We are trying to revive the interest of people in this martial art. Already, the SGPC has introduced it as a subject at university level in Amritsar. It is a self defence art like Judo Karate. We are trying to convince schools to teach it to their children. There is no dearth of trained teachers who can teach this art."

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Harvinder Singh Sarna, meanwhile says to popularise gatka, they plan to have annual competitions so that the interest of both children and parents can be aroused.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Worshipers at South Salem Temple Believe the Burning of Their Flag is an Act of Terrorism

Release Date: Jul-24-2006 21:39
News Source: Salem-News.com

Kevin Hays Salem-News.com

Recent vandalism at the Sikh temple has left many in Salem angry and shaken, and the organization trying to educate people about who they are and why they are not a threat.

(SALEM) - People who worship at the Dashmesh Darbar Sikh Temple on Oakhill Ave SE in South Salem say the violent and destructive acts committed against their building over the weekend amounts to more than a hate crime, they say it was an act of terrorism.

The desecration of the former Lutheran church is definetely not the first hate crime acted out against a Salem religious organization, it has happened more than once at Temple Beth Shalom, the Synagogue in North Salem, and other locations.

Police say that while it is alarming and concerning, it is not something that happens frequently in the capitol city.

Investigators say a 4-foot flag with the Khanda, the symbol of the Sikh faith was burned by the vandals. The flag was on a pole located behind the Temple

Fire investigators say the flames spread to some nearby grass and a chain link fence that surrounded the flag pole. Fortunately, it was quickly extinguished.

Police say flowers were ripped out, and a bike was thrown onto the opposite side of the property.

It leaves church leaders saying they pan to install surveillance cameras and a fence around the entire property.

Church members have replaced the flag pole and flag.

If you have any information on the fire call Salem police at (503) 588-6123.

For more information on the Sikh faith, visit: www.sikhs.org

Stupid Punjabis...

Release Date: Monday, 24 July 2006, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
News Source: BBC News

A woman, who was bullied by her mother-in-law, has been awarded £35,000 in damages.

The case was brought under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, normally used to deter stalkers.

Nottingham County Court heard that Gina Satvir Singh endured months of cruelty at the hands of her mother-in-law, Dalbir Kaur Bhakar.

Mrs Singh, from Bunny, Nottinghamshire, went to live with her mother-in-law after getting married.

'Brave' woman

The court was told she moved to London to live with her husband and his family but the marriage broke up after four months.

This is believed to be the first time someone has brought a damages case against a family member under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

The court heard how Mrs Singh was left exhausted after she was also made to work in the house for long hours, doing chores, which included cleaning the toilet without a brush.

She was only allowed to make one telephone call a week and was not permitted out of the family home unless accompanied.

Mrs Singh was also forced to cut her hair, which was against her Sikh religion.

After the hearing, her solicitor John Rosley, said: "This was a very difficult case, brought by a very brave young woman, who is now rebuilding her life.

"There must be many women who could bring such a case but do not.

"My client has only had the strength to run the case due to the staunch support that she received from her family and her faith in her religion."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Religious flag's burning called a hate crime

Release Date: 07/23/06
News Source: Stateman Journal (Salem, Oregon)

A flagpole at the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in South Salem was uprooted and the flag was burned Saturday morning in what temple members called a hate crime.

Members found the remains of the flag about 6 a.m. The 4-foot-tall flag had a Khanda, the primary symbol of the Sikh faith, printed on it.

The flagpole had been removed from a stump on the back of the property, in which it was anchored, and brought just outside the temple's chain-link fence, where it was set ablaze.

Flowers also were ripped out, and a nonworking bike was thrown to the opposite side of the property.

Temple President Bahadur Singh said there have been no other incidents since the temple was established in October. He said that the community has been supportive of the group.

The building, at 860 Oak Hill Ave. SE, previously was the home of a Lutheran church. Two crosses that still stand on the property were not harmed.

Salem police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

-- Chris Hagan

Sikh Temple invites neighbors to awards ceremony

Release Date: 07/24/06
News Source: InsideBayArea.com

The public is invited to Fremont's Sikh Temple on Friday to recognize students who completed the temple's summer school program and to learn more about the program.
More than 270 students, from kindergartners through 12th-graders, enrolled in summer school this year, only the second time the program has been offered. Subjects that were offered ranged from mathematics and English to religion and the Punjabi language.

On Friday, students will receive T-shirts and prizes.

The awards ceremony is free to the public, and food will be served. The event will run from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the temple, at 300 Gurdwara Road, Fremont. For information, call (510) 791-9923.

HomeRoom is a Monday feature of The Argus. If you have school news, you may call Linh Tat at (510) 353-7010, e-mail her at ltat@angnewspapers.com or send a fax to (510) 353-7029. The mailing address of The Argus is 39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont 94538.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

In celebration of America's Independence

On July 4th of this year, a delegation of Sikhs from through out the United States participated in the annual National Independence Day Parade. Under the umbrella group of Sikhs of America, the delegation marched in the parade with a float as well as performed the Sikh's martial arts of Gatka.

The Sikhs of America's Gatka team.

You can see more photos from the joyous event by seeing them on The Ink Spill's website. Currently they are being kindly hosted by Sunmit Singh, who spear head’s the RootsGear effort.

Meet the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains...

Recently during SALDEF's 10th Anniversary Dinner, Supreet and I had the chance to meet Canada's Member of Parliament Navdeep Singh Bains. Mr. Bains represents the Mississauga-Brampton South district of Ontario.

The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains with Bhai Sahib Gurdarshan Singh, Supreet Kaur, and Sartaj Singh.
The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains with Bhai Sahib Gurdarshan Singh, Supreet Kaur, and Sartaj Singh.

One only hopes that a fellow Sikh would rise into either the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, much like Navdeep did within Canada's legislative branches.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Exhibit of Guru Gobind Singh's artifacts

Short news segment, from ANI's Dateline Punjab, which covers rare artifacts that belonged to the Sikh's last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Aired on 07/08/06.

All religions invited to Sikh peace march

Release Date: 07/21/06
News Source: ContraCostaTimes.com

EL SOBRANTE: Group promotes unity, tolerance in remembrance of leader who was killed 400 years ago

By Tom Lochner

Sikhs in the East Bay and around the world are commemorating the martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji, who was tortured to death by India's Mogul rulers 400 years ago for advocating a forbidden religion.

The message of unity and tolerance of the sage, revered by Sikhs as the Embodiment of Peace, is particularly poignant today, with so many armed conflicts rooted in religious differences, said J.P. Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib, the Sikh temple of El Sobrante.

The temple's governing entity, formally known as the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area, is sponsoring a Sunday spiritual march for peace to commemorate Guru Arjan Dev's gifts to mankind and his martyrdom. It parallels the poisoning of Socrates and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as "a messenger of love of God ... executed because of his growing popularity," according to a treatise distributed by the World Sikh Council.

"He was well beyond the 21st century," Singh said. "What he contributed in terms of being secular, no one has come close. His contributions are just outstanding."

The fifth among a succession of 10 gurus who led the religion after it officially began in the 15th century, Guru Arjan Dev left arguably the greatest legacy, Singh said.

He compiled the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, which consists in large part of his writings. He also contributed more than 2,000 hymns to the holy book, as well as hymns of Muslim and Hindu saints and people in lower castes.

Sikh writings of previous centuries contain references to the martyrdom of Christ on the cross.

The El Sobrante temple is asking faithful of all religions and all people devoted to peace to join in Sunday's march, called a Nagar Kirtan, which also is dedicated to interfaith understanding and harmony, universal brotherhood, love and hope, and recognition of the human race as one.

It will leave the temple at 10 a.m. and proceed down Hillcrest Road, then via San Pablo Dam Road and Appian Way to the Appian Triangle, before returning to the temple.

Guru Arjan Dev also built the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, Sikhism's holiest shrine, selecting a Muslim to lay the foundation. The Golden Temple has doors on all four sides, symbolizing openness to all religions and people, Singh said.

Another temple, Kesgarh, in Anandpur, India, inspired the design of the El Sobrante temple, Singh said.

Sunday's march will include floats with themes reflecting the teachings of Guru Arjan Dev, as well as one with a model of an expanded El Sobrante temple. Sikh leaders have applied to the county to double the size of the temple size by adding a community center, classrooms, a library, a dining hall and a kitchen.

Conceived primarily as a place of worship, the temple must reinvent itself to serve a changing population, including American-born Sikhs with limited knowledge of the culture and religion of their ancestral homeland, Singh said.

The Sikh religion originated in the Punjab region of India in 1469 with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev. The 10th in the succession, Guru Gobind Singh, died in 1708.

The Sikh holy book is considered the 11th and Eternal Living Guru. A series of followers read the Guru Granth Sahib cover to cover beginning Fridays, a 48-hour process that culminates with the Sunday worship service.

Sikhism, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is monotheistic. It teaches honesty, humility, charity, hospitality, hard work and love of family.

Sikhs do not urge people to convert, but instead encourage them to seek enlightenment through their own religion.

"All the holy books, at bottom they all preach peace and love," Singh said. "That's basically the bottom line of all religions.

"And that's part of the reason why we are doing this."

Reach Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@cctimes.com.

If you go:

WHAT: Nagar Kirtan -- a spiritual peace march with song.

WHERE: El Sobrante Gurdwara Sahib, 3550 Hillcrest Road, El Sobrante

WHEN: 10 a.m. Sunday (07/23/06)

SALDEF Applauds Swift Congressional Passage of the Voting Rights Act

Release Date: 07/21/06
News Source: CivilRights.org

President Bush Expected to Sign Bill Prior to Summer Recess

July 21, 2006
Rajbir Singh Datta
202-393-2700 ext. 27

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation's oldest Sikh American civil rights organization, commends the United States Senate for voting unanimously on June 20, 2006 in support of the reauthorization of S. 2703 the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Cesar E. Chavez Voting Rights Act (VRA). Previously, on July 13, 2006 the House of Representatives voted 390-33 to approve the reauthorization of VRA extending the crucial voter protections set out in this bill for an additional 25 years.

"We commend both houses of Congress for passing this historic and tremendously important piece of legislation that will continue to protect and sustain America's democracy," said SALDEF President Mirin Kaur Phool. "In passing this bill with no amendments, Congress has taken a giant step in ensuring that all citizens get their fair and equal access to vote."

Among the provisions which were being threatened include Section 203 of the VRA with requires certain states and local jurisdictions to provide language assistance in languages other than English to voters who are not literate or fluent in English. Additionally at risk of expiring was Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to "preclear" proposed changes in voting or election procedures with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The language provisions in Section 203 are vital to ensure that Sikh Americans have the ability to take part in the democratic process by going to the polls while Section 5 ensures that any proposed changes in areas that have a history of discrimination have a degree of oversight to ensure the changes are being made in good faith.

Voting is a hallmark of a true democracy and SALDEF urges President George W. Bush to fulfill his earlier commitment and sign this legislation into law. The VRA implemented safeguards necessary for all minorities and low-income individuals to possess the right to have their vote count as equally as their wealthy counterparts. This is the true nature of America, and we must protect it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Even little Akash gets depressed sometimes...

Racist attacker tore off turban

Release Date: 9:04am Wednesday 19th July 2006
News Source: The Oxford Mail

Racist attacker tore off turban
By Jo Duckles

An alcoholic thug who tore off a Sikh man's turban in Oxford has been convicted of racially aggravated assault.

Kenneth Pollard, 56, of Speedwell Street, Oxford, denied the attack on Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia, 26, from India, but was found guilty after a trial on Monday.

Tim Boswell, prosecuting at Oxford Magistrates Court, said: "The turban was torn off with such force it pulled some hair out of Mr Ahluwalia's head.

"Mr Pollard threw the turban on the ground and left the scene."

Mr Boswell said the incident, on May 28, was caught on CCTV and Pollard was arrested a few days later.

At the time, the Oxford Mail reported how up to 40 onlookers did nothing as the turban was torn off.

Mr Ahluwalia, giving evidence in court, said: "I was near Carfax, near the HSBC bank in the city centre.

"I heard someone shouting across the road. There was a man copying my body movements.

"After a while he came across the road, looking in my face, shouting and saying things I tried to ignore."

Mr Ahluwalia said he thought Pollard had gone when he felt him grab his turban.

He said: "It is the most embarrassing thing for a Sikh to have their turban taken off in front of unknown people.

"He had said to me 'you are a Paki, then he said, 'no you are a Hindu'."

The turban is a religious gift to all Sikhs, from their guru.

Pollard said he had a harmonica and had been intending to go busking. He claimed Mr Ahluwalia had called him a beggar.

When asked why he ripped the turban from Mr Ahluwalia's head, he said: "It was temper, it was a reaction."

Jane Malcolm, defending, asked Pollard: "When you took Mr Ahluwalia's turban off did you think it was in any way racist?"

Pollard said: "No, not at all."

Pollard admitted he had drunk a bottle of port or wine and a couple of pints of beer that day.

He said: "I am an alcoholic. That (amount of drink) might sound a lot, but that would just make me joyful. I wasn't drunk."

The court heard that in October last year, Pollard had been given a conditional discharge for causing harassment, alarm or distress which was racially aggravated. He also admitted he was in breach of a conditional discharge for being drunk and disorderly.

Sentencing was adjourned until Monday.

Speaking after the trial, Mr Ahluwalia, a former Oxford Brookes University student said: "Ten days before this incident I got a work permit and was looking for a job, but that stopped because of this whole thing.

"I was shaken up. I was shaken up while I was giving evidence. I am glad that it is over and I am really happy he has been found guilty.

"I used to regularly walk home late at night, but I don't have the courage to do that any more."

Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia
Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia

Punjab disburses grants to 1984 riot victims

Release Date: 07//18/06
News Source: NewKerala.com

Posted on 18 July, 2006 # IANS

Chandigarh: The Punjab government Tuesday announced that it had disbursed grants of Rs.200,000 each to 9,074 families of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of the country.

Revenue, rehabilitation and disaster management secretary R.C. Nayyar said that 15,254 claims were received by deputy commissioners in Punjab, out of which 11,745 claims were found in order and 2,038 claims were rejected. Another 1,079 claims were still being considered.

He said that 2,671 claims of disbursement were pending, to be taken up soon.

The official said that 269 jobs and 2,471 houses or flats had been given to dependents of those killed in the 1984 riots. Commercial properties were provided to 999 families and marriage grants were given to another 140 riot-affected families.

The state government was also providing subsistence grant of Rs.2,500 per month to 300 riot-affected widows, he added.

The assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984 led to the riots, especially in Delhi, in which about 3,000 Sikhs were killed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What is a Sikh?

Release Date: June 2005
News Source: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Sikh temple to open doors in Chesapeake by year's end

Release Date: July 15th, 2006
News Source: The Virginian-Pilot

By JANETTE RODRIGUES, The Virginian-Pilot
Last updated: 11:06 PM

CHESAPEAKE - By the end of the year, the first Sikh temple in Hampton Roads should be open for worship.

The Guru Nanak Foundation of Tidewater is building a 7,000-square-foot temple on nearly 3 acres on Finck Lane, off Great Bridge Boulevard near the interchange of Interstate 464 and I-64. The group broke ground last April.

About 15 years in the making, the temple will cost upwards of $800,000 to complete, foundation members said Friday. The spiraling price of gasoline and petroleum-based products is affecting building costs.

A small, close-knit community of fewer than 100 families, the majority of Sikhs in the region live in Chesapeake and the surrounding South Hampton Roads cities, said Dr. Baljit Singh Gill, a Yorktown psychiatrist and group member.

Initially, the foundation planned to purchase a church and convert it. But the group never was able to find something suitable, "so we ultimately decided to buy the land and build a temple," Gill said.

The foundation chose the Chesapeake site because it is centrally located for most members and just off the highway. Group members said it was difficult to find affordable, open land in the region.

The city also seems welcoming, said Gill, an associate professor of psychiatry at Eastern Virginia Medical School and a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Hampton.

"A lot of people who live in this area are from the military, and have traveled abroad, and are more accepting of other cultures," he said.

The temple will be a simple building with a large assembly hall, smaller rooms for study groups and two bulb-shaped domes, Gills aid.

When it opens, it will be only the sixth Sikh temple in Virginia.

# Reach Janette Rodrigues at 757-222-5208 or janette.rodrigues@pilotonline.com.

Two Years Later, Sikh Reflects On Attack

Release Date: July 14, 2006 5:11 AM EST
News Source: Queens Tribune

Rajinder Singh Khalsa lay on the ground praying to God as the next man’s foot exploded into his face, opening another wound. Silently, he pleaded for the punches and kicks to stop, for the pain to end. The five men beat him viciously outside of Villa Russo’s Restaurant in Richmond Hill because of the turban on his head. He suffered a nose fracture, temporary loss of vision in his left eye, and was left on the ground unconscious.

Rajinder Singh Khalsa preapres to enter the Temple. Tribune Photo by Jeff Feinman
Rajinder Singh Khalsa preapres to enter the Temple.
Tribune Photo by Jeff Feinman

July 11 marked the anniversary of the date that Khalsa, now 51, endured the racially motivated beating. It is now two years later, and the five men were all dealt prison sentences, ranging from five days to two years. Three of the men were also ordered to serve community service with the Sikh temple.

“I requested the judge to give them a little less punishment and give them community service,” Khalsa said a Sunday gathering in Richmond Hill’s Gurudwara Ramgharia Sikh Society of America temple. “They should come and serve in the Sikh temple. They should be educated about the Sikh religion, and know why we wear this turban. This turban is a sign of respect. I feel when they come with us and serve, they will feel the blessing of God. When we pray for us, we pray for all, especially those boys.”

Khalsa, meanwhile, has carried on with his life. His vision is still poor and he frequently suffers from neck pains. Through his faith in Sikhism and support from the community, he has been able to maintain his spirit.

“I am healing better than other people because we do yoga,” he said. “All the Sikh people are devoted to me. When I was recovering (after the beating), it was raining. There was a big line in front of my home because people wanted to see me. The Channel Fox 5 television crew was there, and they were showing that line in the rain. The community was praying for me.”

Last year at this time, Khalsa announced that he filed a civil suit against his attackers, making him the first Sikh hate crime victim to do so. On Saturday, Khalsa was contacted by Allstate Insurance, which had been providing homeowners’ insurance to three of the men. Allstate informed Khalsa that they would not cover the suit because the men engaged in an intentional violent act of crime.

Aside from injuries, there are other challenges facing Khalsa and his family, as he has not worked since the attack. Khalsa had owned a limousine company, but it is now gone. He asked his youngest son to put his college education on hold and take up a job.

“It has effected the education of my children,” he said. “I go more and more poor. I am willing to work. I tried two or three times, but could not.” Khalsa also said that he had also been taking care of two orphan children in India. “I was sending some money from here, but I don’t know what’s going to happen now. They need education and so many other things.

“The first generation, when they come to America, it’s very hard,” he said. “I am the first generation here, so maybe the next will do better.”

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Meet Gurpreet Singh, The Tabla Guy

Now this is cool. Check out Gurpreet Singh's performance during a Toronto Raptor's game.

Gurpreet Singh, The Tabla Guy

Sartaj is normal...

After a recent visit to the Doctor, I was ordered to have a CAT scan done of my head to make sure that all the pistons in my head were firing off correctly. Once the exam was completed, the Doctor told me that the results were good and that everything was normal inside my head. The Doctor then passed the sheet with the results so that I could see myself, since I always ask a billion questions.

The sheet was the actual CAT scan image of my brain, and I too was able to determine that everything was operating normally. How? Take a look for yourself:

Sartaj's brain is normal.

Sartaj's brain is normal.

Yes, we live in a technological era that can quickly tell us if our brains are normal or not. Or, we live in a technological era that allows CAT scans to resemble the function of a Magic 8 Ball.

So take that to all of you who thought that Sartaj was not normal. This CAT scan proves that I am, so take that!

I’m just afraid to see what some of the other options the CAT scanning device would say if the brain function were not normal…

Saturday, July 08, 2006

2003 shooting of Sikh unsolved

Date Released: Jul. 7, 2006 12:00 AM
News Source: The Arizona Republic

The headline in the May 21, 2003, edition of The Arizona Republic read, "Sikh shooting called hate crime."

The story began: A Sikh man was shot Monday night in north Phoenix in what authorities are calling an unprovoked hate crime.

Avtar Singh Cheira, a 52-year-old truck driver who lives in Phoenix, was shot twice by men in a red pickup near Ninth Street and Bell Road, police said. The Indian immigrant, who has lived in the United States for 18 years, was wearing a turban as he waited for his family to pick him up from work about 9:20 p.m.

"I heard that voice say, 'Go back to where you belong to,' and at the same time I heard that shot," Cheira said Tuesday (May 20, 2003) at a Valley hospital, where he winced with pain each time he moved his legs.

When and where: The night of May 19, 2003, near Ninth Street and Bell Road in Phoenix.

Summary: Cheira, now 55, said that the shooting put him in the hospital for about 10 days and that he was unable to work for nearly three months. He relied on friends, family and the Valley Sikh community to lend him money to cover truck and house payments while he was out of work.

"If they weren't there, I don't think I could stand up again (financially)," Cheira said.

Cheira incurred more than $100,000 in medical expenses from the attack and carries nearly $3,000 in debt after the majority of the expenses were forgiven because of his inability to pay.

Cheira has since moved to a gated community for more safety, and said to this day he worries about his family's safety.

With no arrests in the joint Phoenix police-FBI investigation and a $20,000 reward for information still uncollected, Cheira said he feels that the case has been forgotten.

Cheira was the second Valley Sikh attacked after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the experience had a chilling effect on the nearly 2,000-member community.

Frank Silva Roque was sentenced to death in 2003 for fatally shooting Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh man, four days after the terrorist attacks.

GuruRoop Kaur Khalsa, a Valley Sikh community leader, said Sikhs wear turbans as an expression of their faith and can be confused with Islamists because of their appearance.

"Really, to this day, you can tell by how people treat you in the grocery store, you can tell what they saw on the news the night before," Khalsa said.

Investigators: FBI Special Agent Deborah McCarley and Phoenix police Detective Jerry Oliver.

What bothers McCarley most about the case: "These types of crimes don't affect just one individual," she said. "This also has an impact on that community, that minority group."

How you can help: Anyone with information is asked to call the Phoenix FBI at (602) 279-5511. Anonymous tips can also be made to Silent Witness at 1-800-343-TIPS.

- Elias C. Arnold

Avtar Singh Cheira was shot by an unknown assailant on May 19, 2003 at 9th Street & Bell Road in Phoenix. In the background (right) is Avtar's wife of 30 years, Surinder Kaurcheira.

Avtar Singh Cheira was shot by an unknown assailant on May 19, 2003 at 9th Street & Bell Road in Phoenix. In the background (right) is Avtar's wife of 30 years, Surinder Kaurcheira (photo credit: Tim Koors/The Arizona Republic).

Friday, July 07, 2006

Faiths honour victims of 7/7 bomb

Date Released: 07/07/06
News Source: BBC News

Lancashire's faith communities united in a peace vigil at Blackburn Cathedral to commemorate the first anniversary of 7 July London bombings.

Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist representatives paid tribute to the bombing victims.

The 15-minute vigil included two minutes of silence, an act of remembrance, and ended with handshakes as a sign of peace and friendship.

The county's different faith groups created the service together.

The vigil recalled "all who lost their lives as a result of the inhumanity of their neighbours a year ago today, as we recall so many atrocities in conflicts across human history".

The act of remembrance honoured members of the emergency services who risked their lives to save others, civilians who helped the injured "and all who continue to work in this and every community to overcome misunderstanding and to promote peace and friendship".

Across the North West the two minutes of silence for the 52 dead was observed in places including the Trafford Centre shopping complex in Greater Manchester, Liverpool Town Hall and Bolton Town Hall.

Two people from the region perished in the London bombings.

They were: David Foulkes, 22, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, who had just started work in media sales with the Guardian Newspaper, and Marie Hartley, 34, from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, who was in London on a course.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"A False Alarm," by Sukhdeep Singh Sembi

Check out this short video by Sukhdeep Singh Sembi. It's the classic story of a Mona, who is late for an exam, who transforms into a Sardar in a blink of an eye as he rushes to take his exam while listening to the Rocky theme in his head.

Yeah, something like that...


"A False Alarm," by Sukhdeep Singh Sembi

Indian cowboy loving Alberta career

Monday July 3rd, 2006

The Calgary Sun (link)

Indian cowboy loving Alberta career

EDMONTON -- He's not your typical Albertan cowboy.

For starters, he's a Sikh who goes by his childhood nickname "Pancake."

He doesn't eat beef or pork for religious reasons. And instead of wearing a Stetson, he's got a bright yellow turban.

But none of that has stopped Paramvir Singh Chattwal, a 32-year-old resident of India, from coming to Canada and working on the Alberta chuckwagon circuit this summer.

"You have cowboys and urban cowboys, but you've never had a turban cowboy --so here I am," Chattwal told the Sun yesterday from Ponoka.

Despite a disagreement with his original employer, Chattwal is enjoying Alberta and prefers to focus on the positive aspects of his six-month work experience with new boss, WPCA driver Troy Dorchester.

That includes his impending trip to the Calgary Stampede and the acceptance he says the chuckwagon community has given him, as well as the "pure natural beauty" of Alberta women.

"They're absolute goddesses," said Chattwal, who recently visited his first Hooter's restaurant in Calgary.