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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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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Open Letter to Minister Conor Lenihan

Minister Conor Lenihan T.D.
Leinster House, Dublin 2
Phone: 459 6285
Fax: 451 2002

August 16th, 2007

Sartaj Singh Dhami
Washington, DC

Minister Lenihan:

Thanks to the power of the Internet, recently I read in the news how a Sikh male in your country (link 1, link 2) of Ireland wished to volunteer as a reserve in your police force of Garda Siochana. Unfortunately, this Sikh was not allowed to due to his distinctive identity of wearing a turban which is mandate of the religion Sikhism.

Furthermore, news reports have stated your comment about social integration that “If we are to take integration seriously, people who come here must understand our way of doing things.” You went on to add that “When the president and ministers travel to the Middle East, they accept cultural requirements of the country and the culture they are operating in. It is a vice versa situation with regard to Ireland.”

I wanted to share with you some thoughts as you potentially work towards resolving this matter positively:

1. The literal translation of Garda Siochana, as I understand it, means the Guardians of the Peace of Ireland. As you learn more about the Sikh history and culture, which I’m sure you’ve had some experience as you were a reporter in London for some time, one of its core essence is to promote peace and social harmony throughout society. As both Canada and the UK have learned, having Sikhs in the police force can be an asset (whether it be cultural understandings or language translations) especially when targeting areas that have a high population concentration of Indian/Pakistani descent.

2. On your comments of Middle East cultures, you should understand that Sikhs are not from that area of the world. Although some still continue to confuse this, Sikhs originate from Punjab which is now a portion of land split between Pakistan and India. Many Sikhs migrated to East Punjab and now call India their home. So it is a bit unfair to impose the cultural influences of the Middle East to Sikhs who are not from that area. If anything, you’ll come to learn that a strong Punjabi cultural trait is to welcome and love guests as if they family members. Another trait of Punjabis, and strongly embraced by Sikhs, is to promote good will wherever they go. This trait has benefited many countries as Sikhs have formed their own Diaspora around the World.

3. Indeed the Sikh population of Ireland has made great strides to understand Ireland’s way of life as well as accept the cultural requirements of your Country. In particular, Sikhs have participated in various high profile parades in Ireland demonstrating their love for your Country as well as their cultural pride. Under the banner of the Irish Sikh Council, Sikhs have participated in both the Saint Patrick’s Festival Ireland and the Festival of World Cultures. In both of these events, Ireland is promoting its duty towards integration by highlighting its unique diversity. You can see photos of the Irish Sikh Council’s participation at the following web link:


4. Final thought: I’d argue that a central theme that Ireland has shared with the world is to promote good will and harmony for all. One of Ireland’s greatest Sons is Paul David Hewson, better known as U2’s singer Bono, who shares this theme with the world with his various humanitarian and social goodness based efforts.

Personally I feel that as we start to learn about various world cultures, democratic establishments need to work towards integration efforts versus easily accepting ideals of assimilation. Unfortunately as experienced by this sole Sikh who wanted to participate in Ireland’s civil service by volunteering, the incorrect principles of segregation cannot be tolerated in this new modern era.

As Integration Minister, I encourage you to find a proactive solution that will make the Sikh Diaspora feel even more welcomed in Ireland.

Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts. Although I am not a citizen of Ireland, I felt inclined to share my thoughts thanks to the digital email revolution that we live in.

Very Respectfully,

Sartaj Singh Dhami
Washington, DC

Sikhs in Ireland
Sikhs love Ireland. Why not love them back?

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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, April 10, 2007

Help, Pleeaaaassseeeeee!!!

Calling out a S.O.S. to everyone out there in Internet land.

On March 29th, the New York Times ran an article of Sikh identity issues being faced in Punjab (what else is new). If you haven't read this depressing artcile, check it out on Gurudwara Tapoban Sahib's forum.

I wanted to go back and download a series of pictures that were displayed on the New York Times website in regards to this article, but they have been archived and are no longer available online. See the image below for Exhibit A:


If anyone has downloaded these images, hit me up as I'd like to have a copy for a project that I'm working on.

Later buddies!

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