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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, November 29, 2007

It's about damn time.

News Source: ANI, via Yahoo News
Publish Date: 11/29/07

Bhindranwala's portrait installed at Golden Temple's Sikh Museum

Thursday November 29, 09:27 PM

By Ravinder Singh Robin

Amritsar, Nov 29 (ANI): The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) on Thursday installed a portrait of slain rebel Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala at a Sikh museum situated in the premises of the Golden Temple.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar had earlier announced to install the portrait of the controversial religious leader on November 30. However, it went ahead to install the portrait a day earlier.

Addressing the gathering during the installation ceremony, Makkar said that the SGPC has always been honouring martyrs who have fought for the Sikh community, and it was a moment of pride to install the portrait of one of the great martyr of the 20th century.

Speaking on the occasion Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, hailed the SGPC for taking a 'historic step'.

He described Bhinderanwale as an "epitome of martyrdom".

A rob of honour "sarpao" was given to Isher Singh, son of Bhindranwala, on the occasion by Vedanti.

In 2003, the SGPC, an apex body controlling Sikh places of worship, had declared Bhindranwala as a "martyr".

Bhindranwala was killed in 'Operation Blue Star' launched by the Indian Army to flush out separatists from Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. (ANI)

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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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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

From Sarna to Snake

Well the last couple of weeks have been interesting and busy for me. Hopefully by now, you are in the process of making a video for this year's SikhNet Online Film Festival. I've been busy with fun, fun, fun wedding planning (wow!), however here are two quick items that I wished to comment on that recently hit the news waves.

I want to applaud the efforts of Paramjit Singh Sarna and DSGMC for taking a stand in enforcing simple traditional Sikh marriages that are not elaborate and not cash excessive. Although his stance is hard line against the dowry system (which Sikhism is against but for some silly reason still practiced by some Sikhs), this type of measure is needed to jolt people especially with newly coined term of "Big Fat Sikh Weddings" (thank you Mr. Chatwal). And with the silly "Indian mentality," people are too ego driven and try to show off by outdoing one another.

You wouldn't believe how many times I have refrained from talking to vendors that I'm a Sikh of Punjabi descent. Once they know that, they have one stereotype in mind: Vast amounts of alcohol, big decorations, flamboyant and huge. Worst part, this is coming from Non-Sikhs who have come to learn this by catering to previous customer needs.

My folks were curious to do my wedding reception at this one Hilton location near my home. Once the wedding planner asked me if I was of Indian descent, she pressed me to share more where I'm from in India. She went on even to say "People from Southern India are reserved and have boring parties. People from the North, especially Punjab, have big huge bashes."

Luckily this was done over the phone because my face had a really funny looking frozen expression because of how shocked I was listening to this. So when I finally broke down (I still don't know why to this day) and told her that my origins are from Punjab, she told me this:

"Oh, so what you want is a big, fat, huge, Punjabi bash for your wedding reception."

Really? Is this what I want?

I quickly ended the phone conversation and told my parents that the Hilton was a no go.

Just the other day, I met with a decorator to see what type of decorations we can do for the wedding reception. The Desi decorator quickly knew I was of Punjabi descent with my distinctive turban and beard, and proceeded to tell me that Punjabi receptions are huge and big on visual decorations. Then she proceeded to ask me what my budget potentially would be to meet the decoration request.

I simply gave a one sentence reply: "Simple and beautiful."

I went on to explain my rationale to this and she was presently shocked and happy. "Wow." she said, "Your personality and style is of the Anti-Punjabi nature. I like it."

Anti-Punjabi. Yes that's me, and I'm proud of it. Hopefully the next generation of Singhnees and Singhs can lead the way and remove this horrible stereotype towards the principle and values behind Sikh weddings. It small steps, as Mr. Sarna has done, which will hopefully take us in this much needed direction.

Okay, enough babbling. Time for fun. Time for Snake.

I'll have to devote about one-two weeks once Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of Patriots comes out. When the following trailer below was shown at E3 a couple weeks back, I watched it like four bajillion times driving my Mom crazy as I quoted the lines of Solid Snake. This is the game that will make me buy a PS3, but only when it comes out.

I'm no hero. Never was.
God Bless you Solid Snake!

Quick nerdy observations to the trailer if their are any other Metal Gear fans out there:

- Naomi Hunter is seen with Liquid Ocelot in the beginning and is in the chopper that he is about to board at the end.

- No one is effected by the "mind control" that is invoked on all the various soldiers by Ocelot except for Snake and the masked guy with the glasses who is with Meryl. This type of mind control, as shown by Gene in Portable Ops, had no effect either on Big Boss. I'm curious to see who the masked guy is, and how he may potentially continue the Metal Gear series.

Solid Snake is one cool dude, you bama!
Solid Snake is my video game hero.

That's it. I'm out. Time to wash my hair.


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rabbi Shergill - The Man!

Rabbi Shergill - He is the man!

For those of you who are not familar with Rabbi, check out a quick bio of him on Wikipedia. Furthemore, check out the music video Bulla Ki Jaana Main Kaun.

I'm a fan of his. He's one cool dude that I'd like to meet.

I'm out.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

So here in the United States, every last Monday in the month of May is observed as Memorial Day. I’ve been meaning to post these pictures for some time, and I can’t think of a better day to do it than today.

Sgt. Uday Singh was a member of the United States Army, who unfortunately perished while serving in Iraq in December 2003. I take a trip on his birth and death anniversary every year, per request of his parents, and place flowers on his memorial grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).

The United States wished to honor Sgt. Singh since he was the first person of Indian decent to die serving this Nation. He was cremated in Punjab and a ceremonial grave marker was placed at ANC. Since he was a follower of the Sikh faith, a Khanda was etched on his marker. This year my main man, and cousin, Bhavan rolled with me to pay respects.

Sgt. Uday Singh
Sgt. Uday Singh
United States Army
Combat casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Bhavan Singh Gill
My main homey, Bhavan, paying respects to Sgt. Singh and all others at ANC.

While placing flowers, Bhavan and I spent some time looking at the new grave markers placed in front of Sgt. Singh. We came across Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro of the United States Marine Corps, who was native to the Washington DC area.

Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro
Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro
United States Marine Corps.
Combat casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom

As seen in the picture below, his Mother left a touching message for her fallen Son.

Letter from Mom
A Mother's love towards her Heroic Son.

May Waheguru bless Sgt. Singh, Sgt. Carbonaro, and all those who seek your guidance.

Whenever you are visiting in Washington, take some time to see Sgt. Singh’s marker at ANC. Just go to the visitor center and state that you wish to visit his marker. They’ll take care of you from there.

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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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