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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sikhs in Ireland? Cool!

Irish Sikh community participate at St Patrick’s Festival Parade in Ireland

Gurvinder Singh and Jasvir Singh carrying the penant.Gurvinder Singh and Jasvir Singh carrying the penant.

Dublin, 22 Mar 2007:

Irish Sikh Community displayed their rich cultural heritage this weekend by participating at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, one of the most celebrated events in Ireland.

The Sikh pageant was organised by Irish Sikh Council. With the theme of the parade being ‘Legendaries’, the Sikh community pageant was titled “Portraits of Courage” displaying the sheer valour and the vibrant cultural beauty that marked the golden era of Sikh rule in Punjab.

The two hour parade route was flocked by millions of spectators. Parade was kick-started at Parnell Square on a very positive note and the response received was outstanding. The outfits of both the gatka players and dancers were a fresh addition to the diverse assortment of costumes at the event and did not fail to engage the interest of onlookers. Parade was also watched by Honourable President Mrs Mary McAleese and Prime Minister Mr Bertie Ahern.

All the participants gave brilliant performance and despite the fact that both the Gatka demonstration and the dances were a bit more physically demanding than merely strutting along in the parade, as they required continuous expert body movement and synchronisation, all the participants had trained hard enough and were prepared to deliver their best. The performance also included a 9 feet Sikh warrior puppet and a float carrying the Nagara (Drum) that was specially brought over from UK for the event.

Fortunately enough, the rain too kept off for the two hours, while the cooling light drizzle was rather welcome. The parade drew over half million spectators and was broadcast live in Ireland and Germany. Over 70 TV channels from around the globe including Channel Punjab covered the event.

For a community just establishing itself, the pressure was immense to live up to the expectations of the parade, which is famous for its elaborate floats and colourful performances. Irish Sikh Council collaborated with Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara (Ireland), Baba Ajit Singh Gatka Akhara (UK), Soul of Punjab (Ireland) and Asli Baharan Punjab Diyan (UK) to
present well choreographed performance.

A lot of ground work went into preparing the performance. As per Harpreet Singh, President of Irish Sikh Council, “Preparations started from the Day 1 when we submitted application for participation at the parade in September last year. From drafting the theme on paper to presenting the performance at the parade, every member of Sikh community put lot of efforts in making this event a big success. Young children aged 5 and above enthusiastically practiced Gatka, every weekend regularly for nearly 6 months. After- school sessions were demanding on them, yet their enthusiasm and excitement was enough to ward off any lethargy.”

The skills of Irish Gatka team were brushed up by Surinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh Gill of Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara. The Bhangra team lead by Jagroop Singh from Soul of Punjab having already given over 60 stage performances were in equally high spirits as their Gatka counterparts in rehearsing for the parade.

Generating finances for the parade participation was another challenge for Irish Sikh Council. “We were provided 50% of funds by the St Patrick’s Festival Office. Raising another 50% was a big challenge. But we were surprised to see the immense support of the Sikh community. The
remaining funds were raised with in days” said Hardip Singh, treasurer for Irish Sikh Council.

“It was not work of a single person. Voluntary service by number of community members and support of the St Patrick Festival Office went a big way in helping organise the pageant. Designing of floats, arranging PA systems, booking training halls, choreography and a lot of other efforts went into preparing for the day”, Satwinder Singh, PR Officer, Irish Sikh Council.

“Sikhs are a law abiding, hardworking and vibrant community and have always given more then their capacity to the countries they live in. Irish Sikhs feel proud to have been part of the national festival of Ireland and thank everyone who helped achieve this.”

## END ###

For more information please contact:

Harpreet Singh
President, Irish Sikh Council
Phone: +353 (87) 260 5410
Email: hsingh@irishsikhcouncil.com

Satwinder Singh
PR officer, Irish Sikh Council
Phone: +353 (85) 729 4425
Email: ssingh@irishsikhcouncil.com

Irish Sikh Council
Office: 2 Tullyhall Court, Lucan, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Postal Address: PO Box 9828, Dublin 2, Ireland
Email: info@irishsikhcouncil.com
Website: www.irishsikhcouncil.com

About Irish Sikh Council (ISC):

Established in July 2004, Irish Sikh Council is a wholly independent and non-profit making organisation that aims to:

  • Advocate, campaign and make representations on the concerns and aspirations of the Sikh population, primarily of Republic of Ireland, onmatters of education, race equality, spiritual development, communityrelations and other matters of relevance to the status and development of the Sikhs in Ireland.
  • Promote good relations and harmony between the Sikhs and other communities in Ireland; and inform and guide Sikhs in Ireland to contribute and participate actively in the life and development of Ireland.
  • Promote responsible ethical and moral values in society.

Irish Sikh Council is involved in

  • Working with public bodies and public institutions to create understanding, inclusion and provision for the concerns and aspirations ofSikhs.
  • Disseminating and delivering accurate and useful information about Sikhs and Sikh lifestyle to public, voluntary and private bodies primarily in Republic of Ireland and if within scope and resources permitting, internationally.
  • Promoting understanding and practice of ethical lifestyle amongst Sikh population in Ireland, based on teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Initiating and supporting projects and activities in partnership with other groups and organisations (public, voluntary or private) which share the same aims and objectives as ISC.

About Sikhs in Ireland:

Sikhs over the years have migrated from Punjab to a number of countries all over the world, and clearly the Republic of Ireland happens to be one of them. Immigration of Sikhs to Island of Ireland started in early 1900's. The earliest immigrants to Northern Ireland were Sikhs who were mainly former members of the British army who arrived in the late 1920s from India via East Africa and Britain. They settled in the city of Derry. There are presently over 219 Sikhs in Northern Ireland (2001 Census), most have come from the Punjab. In 1990 the Northern Ireland Sikh Association was formed and shortly afterwards the Northern Ireland Sikh Cultural and Community Centre was established in the Waterside district of Derry.

In the Republic of Ireland there are about 800-1000 Sikhs, mainly living in and around Dublin, ranging from toddlers of a few months of age to the very elderly. Most are from the migrant generation and have settled comfortably, contributing to Irish society. There is also a small but
significant second generation of Sikhs, born and educated in Ireland. The Gurudwara in Dublin is the main centre, for community get together, prayers and community activities. In year 2004, Irish Sikh Council was established to represent and communicate needs of Sikh community in Republic of Ireland.

Sikhs are well known for their honest hard work and sincerity, two principles given them due regard in all professions. Thus in Ireland, Sikhs hold respectable positions in the areas of medicine, IT, business, the hotel and catering industry and only recently, a considerable number of Sikhs have shown a lot of interest for recruitment in An Garda Siochana. A sizeable portion of Sikhs here, also happen to be the third-level students pursuing various courses in universities such as Trinity College, the Royal College of Surgeons, DIT, Griffith College etc.

Sikhs have integrated exceptionally well in Ireland and have struck quite a good rapport with he Irish people. Ask any Sikh the reason for their smooth transition to the Irish society and the answer inevitably will be, the easy-going nature and warmth common to both the Irish and
Sikhs alike.

Infact, the blend of the Sikhs and Irish culture is more evident in the second generation of Sikhs - who may speak Punjabi at home but perfect their Irish at school; love chips and beans as much as they enjoy Allo-Gobhi and are as busy in their hurling practice as they are in Gurbani
(hymns in Guru Granth Sahib) lessons. All these children are proud representatives of two cultures at the same time -proof enough that the Sikh and the Irish culture do not contradict each other, but infact go hand-in-hand and serve to beautifully complement each other.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, and Thanks!

Silent contributions are the best way to help your community. That’s my personal philosophy.

Happy Birthday Bama!

My dear Friends, 2006 was the inaugural year of Dashmesh Pictures and the RestoringThePride.com effort. This March 2007 brings us to our one year anniversary towards both of these efforts.

Thanks to everyone, both Sikh and Non-Sikh, who have supported this initiative by spreading the word on Sikh on the Street, by taking the bold step to have their artwork promoted here, by ordering and distributing freely the DVD, by supporting the film festivals, as well as writing the vast amount of supportive emails in regards to this website.

Not much was expected when starting this project up one year ago. After encouragement from various individuals to post all created video projects online, the website was launched with one specific goal in mind: to promote the awareness and acceptance of those who are members of the Sikh religion among their community and society.

The post 9/11 world has changed many individual’s perspectives to define what truly makes up a person’s nationality and cultural heritage – two items that were challenged and are continued to do so today. With this challenge some may feel to loose pride in whom they are and feel to it might be easier to assimilate to the mainstream and forget the rich traditional infrastructure provided by their ancestral roots.

When one overcomes this challenge, and recaptures their pride, they are gifted with the vision to live in a world that captures the best of both of worlds – where one can walk anywhere in this world and remain culturally strong in their ethnic roots.

The intent of both Dashmesh Pictures and RestoringThePride.com is to reinvigorate that pride of any Sikh who may feel challenged in today’s world. Examples of some of these successes can be seen by Gatka 1, Sikh on the Street, Akaal Media, Sikh Service in World Wars, and the recently added artwork of Harpreet Singh. And who knows, maybe even works like these can encourage Non-Sikhs to reinvigorate themselves to also explore and learn their own personally cultural heritage.

Hopefully in 2007 this endeavor continues to grow and grow strong. One of many items the team here has been working slowly and quietly been working on a sequel to the Gatka 1 film. With the short several years in the making, I only hope that this sequel will be as successful as the original short.

So thanks for hearing my thoughts. Let’s all get back to what we were doing, and continue to strengthen ourselves in whatever it is we stand for. Our stance here is to quietly educate individuals, one at a time, to who the Sikhs are and the valor of their heritage.

One of the greatest items I enjoy walking around is when people look at me and do a double take and say “Hey, you’re that guy who did those interviews right?” or “Have you seen RestoringThePride.com?” when they have no knowledge to who I am.

Silent contributions.

In short, thank you.


Sartaj Singh Dhami

Over 17k hits on YouTube.
Over 17k hits on YouTube. I really hope that equates to 17k more individuals who have learned about Sikhism. Download the video here.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Shout out to my Artistic Aunt, Sonia Dhami

News Source: Sikh Chic
Publication Date: 03/08/07

History Carved in Stone


A special tribute to three centuries of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib proudly narrates volumes on the humanistic and universal appeal of Sikhism to one and all who enter its portals. The history of the community has been captured intensely at this landscaped site which now flanks the gate to the historic city - a place dear to the hearts of Sikhs everywhere. The project, commissioned by Markfed and Punsup, was completed to coincide with the celebrations of the tercentenary of the Khalsa in 1999.

The project was given to a city-based landscaping expert, Sonia Dhami, who is the brain behind the entire structure as it stands today - a perfect supplement to the architectural beauty of the existing gates. The project has not only shaped into a technical marvel, but it also offers a wonderful insight into what Sikhi is all about. And the interesting part is that it enlightens and informs via visually appealing artwork, comprising life-size statutes, relief panels, stone wall carvings and engraved rocks and boulders. The work seems to have been planned to the last detail, as is reflected in the meaningful portrayal of every piece of concrete that has been used.

The central feature is the castle wall, and around it are smaller focal points in the form of panels, engravings, rocks and boulder compositions. The landscape has free-flowing curves which have been linked with the different points of interest, creating an eye-catching visual sequence.

In description, the site may be a maze of concrete, but in concept, it is a virtual 10-minute journey through the three centuries of the Khalsa. The layout depicts almost all aspects of history relevant to the fraternity of the Saint-Soldiers. It reflects the Khalsa's travails and tribulations; its victories and accomplishments. The project is a live screen which flashes not only the martial fervour of the Khalsa, who valiantly fought the enemy in the battlefield, but also shows their softer, humane side.

Bhai Kanhaiya is depicted offering water to enemy soldiers. The story goes that when he was confronted by some Sikhs and asked to explain his behaviour, his explanation to Guru Gobind Singh was: "Master, since I have come in touch with you, I see God everywhere and His entire creation as His children. Amongst the wounded, how can I distinguish between friend and foe?"

Yet another scene explains the dynamics of langar, the Sikh tradition which underlines the principle of universal brotherhood.

There are also a series of depictions portraying the Sikh tenets which revolve around the three pillars of daily life - kirat karo, naam japo, wand chhako (work, worship, charity). Other panels give a detailed account of Guru Nanak and his nine successors. A description of how the Khalsa came into being is also engraved on a series of rocks.

As one walks through the garden, one finds that even the vegetation has been chosen to serve a useful purpose. The plants grown symbolize the scenarios projected - the battlefield scene is depicted by the thorny cacti, while the piety of the Khalsa is portrayed by a lotus pond.

The uniqueness of Sikhi stands magnified through every little work that has been executed. Each section of the landscape - right from the relief panels, depicting the amrit baptism of the Panj Piaras (Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh) and the martial zeal of Hola Mohalla, to the rocks engraved with various achievements of Guru Gobind Singh - furthers one common objective of enlightening the visitor on the historical events related to Anandpur Sahib. The engravings speak of the significance as well as the location of various gurdwaras of this blessed city.

The sequence starts with the detail on Guru Teg Bahadur, the Ninth Guru, who founded the settlement of Anandpur Sahib by buying the land of Makhowal village on the banks of the Sutlej. Set against the picturesque Naina Devi range, this was the place where Guru Gobind Singh later created the Khalsa.

Then there are engravings on Gurdwara Guru Ke Mahal, the shrine which marks the residence of Guru Teg Bahadur. There is information on the three gurdwaras - Gurdwara Bhora Sahib, Gurdwara Manji Sahib and Gurdwara Damdama Sahib. It was at this place that Guru Teg Bahadur received the Kashmiri Pandits and heard their account of the forcible conversions they were being subjected to by Aurangzeb.

Following this is information on Guru Teg Bahadur's martyrdom and Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib. The engravings relate the events of the day when Guru Teg Bahadur's severed head was brought to Anandpur Sahib by Bhai Jaita. Last but not least, is the historic Akal Bunga from where Guru Gobind Singh called upon his followers to fight injustice and tyranny.

The engraved rocks also talk about the gurdwaras at Qila (Fort) Anandgarh Sahib, Qila Fatehgarh Sahib, Qila Lohgarh Sahib and Qila Holgarh Sahib - all of which mark the sites where forts were built by Guru Gobind Singh for the defence of the town. In 1701, the Guru commenced the Hola Mohalla celebrations at Holgarh, where martial games and horse riding events were organized - and the tradition has continued since then.

The entire place exudes warmth, and rightly so, for it is a labour of love, a dream come true for Sonia Dhami and her team of workers, including architect Sukumar Jeirath. The art work has been executed by Amarjit Singh Virdi and Manjit Singh in consultation with renowned Punjabi painter, Jarnail Singh. The engravings, which are concise and well drafted, have been composed in consultation with Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

The efforts of 80 labourers, six masons and 15 gardeners have produced a landscape that is a visual treat and imparts rhythm and harmony to the surroundings. As one walks out of the place, its imprint remains in the mind and so does Guru Gobind's message:

"O Lord, grant me this boon,

May I never refrain from righteous deeds;

Fearless and determined, I step into life's battle

With Thy wisdom as my guide;

Singing Thy glory, when I'm finally summoned,

May I die in the thick of the good fight."

Courtesy: The Tribune

Website to see: http://www.terrierservices.com

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

May Waheguru bless Captain America

News Source: Associated Press
Publication Date: 03/07/07

Captain America: 1941-2007
Captain America

Comic book hero Captain America dies

Captain America has undertaken his last mission — at least for now. The venerable superhero is killed in the issue of his namesake comic that hit stands Wednesday, the Daily News reported.

On the new edition's pages, a sniper shoots down the shield-wielding hero as he leaves a courthouse, according to the newspaper.

It ends a long run for the stars-and-stripes-wearing character, created in 1941 to incarnate patriotic feeling during World War II. Over the years, an estimated 210 million copies of "Captain America" comic books, published by New York-based Marvel Entertainment Inc., have been sold in a total of 75 countries.

But resurrections are not unknown in the world of comics, and Marvel Entertainment editor in chief Joe Quesada said a Captain America comeback wasn't impossible.

Still, the character's death came as a blow to co-creator Joe Simon.

"We really need him now," said Simon, 93, who worked with artist Jack Kirby to devise Captain America as a foe for Adolf Hitler.

According to the comic, the superhero was spawned when a scrawny arts student named Steve Rogers, ineligible for the army because of his poor health but eager to serve his country, agreed to a "Super Soldier Serum" injection. The substance made him a paragon of physical perfection, armed only with his shield, his strength, his smarts and a command of martial arts.

In the comic-book universe, death is not always final. But even if Captain America turns out to have met his end in print, he may not disappear entirely: Marvel has said it is developing a Captain America movie.

The death of a hero.
The assassination of Captain America.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Unfortunate reality

News Source: Times Online
Publication Date: 03/03/07

Muslims accused of blackmail to make student girls convert

Nicola Woolcock

Radical Muslims are being accused of blackmailing young Hindu and Sikh women into changing religion in "groomed conversions" on campuses.

The men aggressively target vulnerable university students by using the fear of being dishonoured to force them to convert, community leaders have told The Times. Many befriend their victims, then threaten to tell their families that they are in a sexual relationship with a Muslim. Some teenagers are said to have been drugged and photographed in compromising positions.

Many comply because they are so afraid of shaming their parents or being rejected by their communities.

Police are aware of the problem. Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, recently attended a Hindu conference where the issue was raised. But police are powerless to act unless incidents are reported. This rarely happens because the stigma of a child converting to Islam often silences Sikh and Hindu parents.

Community elders say that the practice is widespread but their estimates vary from 100 annual incidents nationwide to 120 in the past few months in the South East alone.

Ranjeet Singh, of the British Organisation of Sikh Students, said: "There are cases of aggressive techniques, of drugging and of rape, of the man taking photos and blackmailing the girls into converting.

"They know that by dishonouring the girls, they will make their families disown them. In the past few months there have been about 120 cases in Luton and the South East. It’s a problem that has been going on for a while, but a lot of people are reluctant to come forward and there’s not much being done.

"It’s not the whole Muslim community, it’s extremist individuals. Some girls are very innocent and vulnerable when they go to university. Then they are befriended by these men. We know of some whose lives have been ruined."

Some of the young women have suffered physical violence. Others have said that the men claimed to have been paid to convert their victims.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: "The main problem is these girls feel very vulnerable and intimidated by these men. They talk about it to their friends, who tell us what is happening, but don’t want to speak to the police. Some families are completely broken apart by it. It becomes difficult to admit in public.

"One girl was beaten up when she refused to convert. She is petrified. She only spoke to one other girl about it, who contacted us."

One Sikh organisation sets up telephone helplines and arranges visits to temples to raise awareness of the problem. Its leader, who wishes his identity and the group’s to remain anonymous, said: “This is very much taboo. These issues have been going on for many years and come to the boil at university.

"I deal with many very serious cases. There are horrific examples of abuse and blackmail, with men saying they’re going to tell the girl’s parents. Then they’re pretty much trapped. We call it groomed conversions. Some of the girls go through with it because they feel they have no choice.

"The men start a relationship with them, with the agenda of conversion down the line. Sometimes they take a picture of her in a compromising position. It’s so easy with camera phones. An 18-year-old girl ends up in a situation that she can’t control."

He said that the extremists were exploiting the Sikh community’s tendency to treat conversion as a grave dishonour, adding: "That’s a cultural mindset we need to tackle. It’s the worst thing you could face — worse than bankruptcy or losing your job."

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had attended a Hindu security conference last month. She said: "We are aware of it as an issue that concerns the Hindu community but are not aware, without further research, of any specific incidents reported to police. We would encourage anyone who has been targeted in this way to seek help."


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Busted by the YouTube Police

Man, are these guys really cracking down! Take a look at the image below:

Gatka 1 got busted by YouTube.
Looks like YouTube's G-Men got Gatka 1.

They are even going after the small fish like Gatka 1. Maybe we need to think twice before posting videos to YouTube. Funny thing is that Google bought YouTube, and Gatka 1 is still on Google Video.



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