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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bhai Sahib Gurdarshan Singh Rules!!!

Happy New Year… and all that good stuff. =)

The end of 2007 was good to me, as I had some time off from work. With this time off, it allowed me to do something that I had been putting off due to wedding planning. I finally got to update the Inspiration section to RestoringThePride.com, which features kirtan and gurmat recordings of Bhai Gurdarshan Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation.

Lovingly referred to as Bhai Sahib here in the DC area, he is true multi-talented individual with skills rarely seen among Sikh Granthis. As a graduate of the Sikh Missionary College, Bhai Sahib is well versed in Sikh history, gurmat, gurbani , and the ability to sing beautiful kirtan. But his one true skill that sets him apart from others is his ability to fluently talk both in Punjabi and English.

Although I'm born and brought up in the States, I have not met any Sikh Granthi, or traveling kirtan jatha, to be able to clearly communicate in both of these languages when sharing the message of Sikhism. Probably this is the case (and I do hope so) for Sikh Diaspora elements in the United Kingdom and Canada, but I haven’t seen this in America. Throughout being raised in the DC area and spending some "sabbatical" at most of the Gurudwaras here, I haven’t seen no other Giani other than Bhai Sahib who has the ability to connect with the Sangat regardless where they are raised (east or west), let alone share Sikhism clearly and concisely to Non-Sikhs (generally Americans who have no idea of the Sikhs at all).

What's best about Bhai Sahib is that when you listen to his recordings, he easily intertwines both Engligh and Punjabi when discussing passages from the Guru Granth Sahib. This ability allows Western based Sikhs (like me) to capture the same message and scope being offered to their parents.

Furthermore, he has a great sense of expressing both his thoughts and emotions to truly show that he is compassionate about his faith of Sikhism, as well as firm believer that he demonstrates with ease. At my wedding, many of my American friends were struck by Bhai Sahib’s frank discussion on the purpose to marriage. However to my delight, they were "upset" at him through his talk. It appears that just when Bhai Sahib was about to make his point when speaking in English, he would switch over to Punjabi leaving them confused yearning for what he was saying.

Bhai Sahib has a great ability to be a Granthi within the Gurudwara and be your friend outside of his profession. This is a talent that must have been hard for him to master, but he has done so wonderfully. If you are ever up to a game of Volleyball, Table Tennis, or to watch a sporting event, Bhai Sahib is a great companion to have tag along… assuming that he does not have a Granthi duty to do which can happen at the spur of the moment.. He has helped me in many ways when I have ever had questions about Sikhi, but more so as a friend.

A couple years back, I was approached by one of my good friends who was adamantly stating that a MP3 recorder needs to purchased in order to record all of Bhai Sahib's kirtan records or audio lectures. He, along with several other friends and me, decided to pitch in and get a device to do this duty. However we quickly learned how audio editing can be a pain in the butt. So as time passed, I agreed to do this work and I try to get whatever recordings I have online as fast as I can. But you can see how "fast" I work, as I just uploaded all 2007 recordings at the end of the 2007 year.

So in short if you are looking for good discussions on Sikhism or wish to better understand the message when kirtan is performed, check out the work of Bhai Gurdarshan Singh. The data transfer for all these recordings has been extremely high since I posted it online, which is a good positive sign that people are enjoying the content.

Recently Bhai Sahib just returned from Houston Sikh Youth Camp (he goes every year) and the Campers there were so inspired by his talks, that they created a Facebook group called Bhai Gurdarshan Singh Rules!!!!!!

And I'm quite happy to say that yes, I do agree with this thought. Bhai Gurdarshan Singh my friend, you do rule.

Bhai Gurdarshan Singh and I
Bhai Sahib Gurdarshan Singh (right), he's one cool dude.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thank Waheguru for Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Today, the Sikh nation celebrates the 538th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith.

Without the gift of his divine knowledge, the word Sikh would have never gained its new definition as the world knows it as today. Without Guru Nanak Dev Ji, we all would continue to sink among all other obstacles in the worldly ocean.

Without Guru Nanak Dev Ji, I would have no pride.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as depicted Sobha Singh
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as depicted by Sobha Singh

As I start to study the actual words of the Sikh Gurus, their is one line that has hit me very hard of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. In the very last passage (or Salok) of JapJi Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev Ji says the following powerful line:

Salok in JapJi Sahib
Salok from Guru Nanak Dev Ji's JapJi Sahib

As I dwell on this line, I think how wise Guru Nanak Dev Ji is even in our time today. Here Guru Sahib shares how those who try to live a life of truth and commitment may or may not continue to do so. How some may stray from his unique way of life that he is proposing, while others except it and walk with him.

Now think of it in today’s time. Many people ponder in our community why some reject Sikhism’s great message, its way of life, and the identity that shows all Sikhism’s way of life? While others openly choose to do so saying that the identity, or the Sikh way of life, is no longer needed in the 21st century.

And yet here, Guru Nanak Dev Ji states that some choose to engage his new way of life called Sikhism, while others hide from it.

Truly, Guru Nanak Sahib was a mortal man who had the gift from the divine. And that divine power, God, gave the strength to Guru Nanak Dev Ji to share its message and its name, Waheguru.

May Waheguru bless us all so that we come closer to Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message, and no longer attempt to hide from it.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as depicted Sobha Singh
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as depicted by Sobha Singh

In loving memory of the 538th birthday of Sikhism’s founder and First Guru, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539).

A happy Gurpurab to all on this most auspicious day!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alive and well, and married!

So it has been months since I actually wrote a post to this blog, whether it be my thoughts or items in the news that is of interest to me.

I do however have good excuse. I got married.

Yep, my biggest project that I have taken over the last eight months has been planning my marriage to the wonderful Supreet Kaur. From my side of the family, I was the one on point to plan and execute the the whole shebang. So whether it was meeting with various vendors or planning the actual reception, yours truly had many long nights to get the whole fun item created and up and running.

So I’m sure you can forgive me for my tardiness. Below are some photos from the Anand Karaj event and lunch reception on the day of the wedding for you to enjoy. I’ll be sure to send the link out of all the photos once Mr. Glenn Barnett posts all of them online on Pictage.

That freakin horse was huge!
Getting on the horse was half the battle.

Me and the Mrs.
Ahh yes, a moment of bliss.

Fish Eye shot.
The fish eye shot makes the hall look packed... well, it was though.

The newly weds. Hey... that's me on the right! =)

If I have time, I’ll devote one whole blog post to my ordeal on getting on the horse that was used for the Bharat. That damn thing was huge and it had no stirrups what so ever.

I do want to give a big shout out to my boy Shane Gill of Jeeta Jatt and Where Not to do Bhangra fame who hooked up an awesome comical video that we played in the Sunday night reception. I’m in process to get it online so that you can see it, as it was another film project completed this year, along with the notoriously seen Nihang Singh promo videos on the SikhNet website for their Youth Film Festival. I’ll have to create two new web pages to showcase these.

If you haven’t seen, all the video projects that I had on YouTube were pulled offline. I guess in the last couple of months, YouTube had a big crack down on videos that they felt violated copyright rules.

I know for a fact that the parent company that creates Indian Idol complained over the video segment that I posted online of when they went to Punjab which showcased Punjabis dancing and singing near the grounds of Harimandar Sahib (Golden Temple to you Goras).

Oh well, I’ll just start to looking for new alternatives for posting videos. Recently I’ve done a lot of research on SwishZone technology. Cheap man’s alternative to the Adobe Flash line.

So that’s about it. In the next post, I’ll share some of the honeymoon pictures of Supreet and my trip to Kauai which was beautiful.

Is there a way to embed pictures from Flickr into websites? I guess I’ll have to research that.

Alright, I’m settled and ready to get back to more fun projects. I recently helped Ish and her team promote her new Sixth River project here in DC, and good ol’ Gurumustuk wants me to brainstorm some Blabber projects for the SikhNet online fund raiser.

Man, it’s good to be back. Hopefully I can finally update Bhai Sahib’s website sometime soon.

Wedding Planning Information

For all of you who are in stages of wedding planning, these are the only vendors you need to have a kick booty event… especially if you are in the DC area. Thanks to my bro Kabir, he’s schooled me on getting the following top knotch photo and video team:

VideoBlue Sky Films. Check out there section on Indian weddings and be sure to work through Mr. Neil Benjers.

PhotoGlenn Barnett. Check out his website as his team has covered a slue of Sikh weddings. Great team to work with and they will make you look good (they even did it for me).

As for other items, here’s what my family and I went with:

CardsUniversalWeddingCard.com. Their staff did a good job with a very quick turn around.

Venue for Gurudwara Ceremony - Guru Nanak Foundation of America

Venue for ReceptionSheraton Primere of Tysons Corner. Ask for Shaier Heidar. I know many Indians who wish to choose the Hilton at Dulles. Personally, I’d avoid it all costs.

DJing/LightingEventEQ. Simply the best team in the DC area for all lighting and DJing. You will not be disappointed when they make your whole reception look like a private concert. I worked through DJ Jag, but their whole team is great. DJ Lucky at Platinum Productions was used for our Saturday lunch reception, and his team rocks as well. Two excellent vendors to work with.

DecorationsL’Ambiance in DC did a nice job for our Sunday reception.


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Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's that time again... for the annual SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival!

Big ups to my man Mr. SikhNet for always of thinking of new ways to promote Sikh youth to take an active role in their community.

I had the pleasure to hang out with Gurumustuk when he was in DC a couple weeks back. Within one day, we shot five quick promo videos for this year's film festival. It took me about another week to edit all five.

The neat part of this challenge was to use a very simple camcorder, pretty much like the one in your home, and shoot these quick promos.

So... you have no excuse not to make a video! =)

Take a look at the five promos shorts below. The Nihung Singh's are my favorite ones.

Check out these five promos, plus the last one made by Ambrosial Motion Pictures. Enjoy.

The deadline for this year's film festival is August 31st, 2007. Cash prizes are being awarded, and any age group can enter the competition. Check out the logo below for more information.

SikhNet Online Youth Film Festival 2007

So what are you waiting for you bama? Make a movie for the festival this year before Nihung Singh comes after you!

I'm pooped. Later.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen.... meet Natasha Bedingfield

... I don't even want to know.

Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," by jesse6i

By the way, check out the promo videos that I did with my good ol' buddy Mr. SikhNet for the 2007 SikhNet Online Youth Film Festival. Two are posted below.

Make a movie for the SikhNet Online Youth Film Festival!

I don't have time to use the computer Sir.

Be sure to make a video this year for the film festival you BAMA! More awesome promo videos to come soon! Here's a hint: "He He Heeeeeeeee, WAAAAAHHHHHEEEEEEEGUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!"

That will be the theme for the summer.

Enjoy the 4th if you are in the States. If you aren't here, go back to work.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

What is a Head Worth?

A Happy Vaisakhi to all!

I read the following passage from Dr. I.J. Singh's book "Sikhs and Sikhism: A View With a Bias" several years back and it beautifully summarizes the importance of Vaisakhi in today's modern age.

As we enjoy this year's Vaisakhi, let us all reflect and continue to grow in life. Enjoy the passage below.

"Guru Gobind Singh created an egalitarian order but for the ordinary follower he did not make the job any easier. If there is no clergy with binding ecclesiastical authority, then each Sikh has to cultivate and heed his own conscience. Each Sikh must hone his own intellect and plumb the depths of his own faith. Guru Gobind Singh recognized that each one of us has a constant battle to fight and the enemies are not necessarily out there. In all the battles of life that must be fought, no battlefield is more important than that of the mind. On that Baisakhi day three hundred years ago, Guru Gobind Singh staged the lesson of life: In everything you do and in each moment of your life, live honestly and so that you can put your head on the line. In whatever you do, do it so that you can live and die with dignity.

"Now three hundred years after Guru Gobind Singh, is there anyone asking for a head?

"When a business associate suggests that a little greasing of the palm could smooth the way for your project or when a prospective employer hints that a job or a promotion could be yours if you appear without your Sikh uniform, why should you resist? If the road you take is less than straight and narrow, why does it matter? If social life could be easier without the long hair or the Sikh uniform, why not take the easy road? Why look to the road less traveled by? Haven’t times changed? Guru Gobind Singh is not asking for your heads now, or is he?

"Yes, three hundred years have passed. Guru Gobind Singh no longer appears in person at the job interview, flashing a naked sword and asking for your head. Mysterious are the ways of the Guru, and many are the people that he uses as his instruments. Now the question is framed differently, the flashing sword is replaced by the prospect of social isolation, economic disaster or harassment at the job or in the neighborhood. The instrument of the Guru is the affable man or woman behind the desk asking all these awkward questions. The instrument of the Guru may be the nice person having a cup of coffee or pleasant conversation with you. The intent of the questions is the same, only the form is different. The question is asked a hundred times a day and in a myriad ways. Three hundred years later, once again the Guru wants your head. Many will slip away, just as they did three hundred years ago. Many more will look away, just as they did then.

"The question is: How are you going to answer the call?"

What is a Head Worth?
Pages 48-49
"Sikhs and Sikhism: A View with a Bias," by Dr. I.J. Singh


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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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hey California, what are you doing on 02/03/07?

Spinning Wheel Film Festival, Bay Area 2007

Why there is only one thing to do, which is to go to the Bay Area's Spinning Wheel Film Festival! This year's Film Festival will be in the Cubberley Auditorium at Standford University’s School of Education.

Luckily the fine folks at Dashmesh Pictures (who?) will have two of their successful shorts shown at this event. As seen in Toronto and Washington DC last October, the SWFF Bay Area Film Festival will show Gatka 1: The Experimentation and The Sikh on the Street.

It's great honor to have these two simple shorts part of their 2007 lineup. A big shout out to the Bay Area Committee who thought about us.

Two other really good films will be shown at this event as well that are a must watch, as seen below:

The Gold Braclet
Written, Directed, and Produced by Kavi Raz

A great fictional film, based on a true story, which artistically capturing the 9/11 aftermath faced by the Sikh community in the United States.

Directed by Shonali Bose

Another great fictional film that I got to watch at Houston Camp which covers the post 1984 massacre in India where thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed.

So what are you waiting for California? Go support and attend this event.

See ya at the movies!

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