Monday, January 30, 2012

Punjab goes to polls today; Third front may play spoilsport

The decline of Sikh Panthic issues as electoral agenda and the rise of a development rhetoric would be the highlight when Punjab goes to elections on 30 January, 2012. This is the first time in the history of the state that both Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Indian National Congress did not raise any Sikh identity issues, which were at the helm of debate in the militancy and post-militancy period of the 1990s and early 2000s. While this would give added ground to the Congress to practice its assimilative politics, as envisioned by the party high command, it would also give the Akalis a chance to emerge as an autonomous party that would take into account also the concerns of the Hindus who are almost half of Punjab’s population. The SAD is seen as an upper caste Jat Sikh party, primarily comprising big farmers. In all the elections, it has to depend on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), SAD’s ally in the assembly and parliamentary polls, to cash in the Hindu votes.

However, if the 2009 parliamentary election’s performance is to be believed, the BJP is set to suffer a major setback in the assembly elections because of its declining organisational strength and non-performance of its elected legislators. The party had lost almost all its assembly segments. It is for this reason that SAD’s heir apparent Sukhbir Badal and Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal’s son had started his campaign on a developmental all-inclusive agenda from February last year. Since 2009, Sukhbir, credited for three successful election campaigns, has tried to give an unprecedented electoral representation to Hindus, Dalits and Other Backward castes.

The Congress, instead, is banking on anti-incumbency factor and the historical tradition of Punjab which has never voted back an incumbent government. Amarinder Singh, the captain of the Congress team, has been using the Khunda (a farmer’s staff used for self-defence) in all his rallies as a message to the people that if the Congress party comes to power it will seek revenge from the Akalis for the growing incidents of police torture and widespread corruption in the state. The perception among the people, according to many surveys, has been that the SAD-BJP government has been one of the most autocratic and corrupt governments. However, the Congress has also had to face the anti-incumbency that runs against the UPA government at the centre and something that the SAD-BJP has frequently been raising. It also has to tackle 27 of its dissident candidates who are now contesting elections independently after being denied a party ticket.

In this bi-polar sharing of power between the Akalis and the Congress, a third front called the Sanjha Morcha has emerged strongly for the first time in Punjab’s polity, raising doubts over psephological calculations. The leader of the Sanjha Morcha, Manpreet Badal was a former Akali and the finance minister of the ruling government before he decided to form his own party by the name of People’s Party of Punjab (PPP). In political circles, he was seen as the heir-apparent to Prakash Singh Badal, before Sukhbir Badal asserted himself in the party even after joining politics much later than Manpreet Badal. This led to Manpreet’s resignation from the party and the Sanjha Morcha that comprises the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal along with the PPP. The Morcha is banking on clean image and development programme that it had much before any other party.

with thanks : thehindubusinessline : link in headline for detailed news.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Racist murder of Sikh waiter to be reinvestigated after 10-year campaign

The racist murder of a Sikh waiter has been officially reopened by Scotland's chief prosecutor after a 10-year campaign by the dead man's family.
Frank Mulholland, the lord advocate, said the police had been asked to reinvestigate the murder of Surjit Chhokar in November 1998 after he met the man's family in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.
Mulholland confirmed that the Crown Office was now reviewing the case after the Scottish parliament last year scrapped the so-called double jeopardy rule that prevented someone previously cleared of a seriouscrime being prosecuted again for that offence.
Chhokar's death from multiple stab wounds, after he was allegedly attacked by a group of men on a street in Overtown near Motherwell, has been likened to the Stephen Lawrence case in south London.
Lesley Thomson, the solicitor general for Scotland, said: "The prosecution service is committed to make use of the powers under the new double jeopardy legislation.

with thanks : guardian : link in the headline above for detailed news.

Jay Leno takes heat over "Tonight Show" Sikh sketch

(CBS/AP) Sparks continue to fly over a recent Jay Leno skit. British lawmakers say Prime Minister David Cameron should complain to the United States over a Leno routine that joked about the holiest site in the Sikh religion.
On the Jan. 19 episode of "The Tonight Show," Leno showed a photo of an impressive gold building and joked that it was Republican Mitt Romney's summer home. The site was actually the Golden Temple, a revered Sikh site.
In a motion published at Parliament on Thursday, two legislators said Leno had shown a complete misunderstanding of the Sikh faith. British opposition Labour Party lawmakers Virendra Shrama and John McDonnell proposed a motion demanding Cameron call on the U.S. to show more respect toward Sikhs. The move does not compel Cameron to take any action.
Leno is also causing a stir stateside. TMZ reports the 61-year-old host is now being sued by a man in California named Dr. Randeep Dhillon, who argues the comedian is spreading hatred and ridicule of his religion.

with thanks : cbsnews : link in headline for detailed news.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jay Leno sued over Sikh joke

Jay Leno

Jay Leno

Photograph by: Handout, NBC

         Jay Leno's really taking it on the chin over his joke about Mitt Romney last week.

Leno has taken heat from a religious group after cracking that presidential contender Romney keeps the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, as his summer home. And how he's being sued by a religious organizer who claims that Leno libeled the entire Sikh religion with his joke.

In court papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday and obtained by TheWrap, Dr. Randeep Dhillon, who does business as Bol Punjabi All Regions Community Organization, claims that Leno "hurt the sentiments of all Sikh people in addition to those of the plaintiff" with his joke. Dhillon further claims that Leno's joke "clearly exposes plaintiff, other sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh."

With thanks : Read more:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

US Reaction on Jay Leno Episode



<a href=';vid=354afcea-ee10-4ce3-9425-558e3ee0e709&amp;from=&amp;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='US TV host&#39;s Golden Temple remark irks Sikhs' >Video: US TV host&#39;s Golden Temple remark irks Sikhs</a>


Krishna slams Jay Leno over Golden Temple remark


SGPC opposes Jay Leno's Golden Temple remark


Speak out India: Row over Jay Leno's Golden Temple remark


Jay Leno's remark on Golden Temple, India (19/01/2012)


Monday, January 23, 2012

Nagar Keertan in Krishna nagar

Dr. Harshvardhan, Dr V K Monga, Sd. Tarjeet singh Nagi ji with us on our Langer Stall during the Nagar Keertan in Krishna nagar on the Parkash Utsav of Guru Gobind singh ji.

Largest Gurudwara in Dubai opens !

Assembly polls 2012: Akal Takht blasts leaders going to Dera

There is trouble brewing for political leaders thronging deras for last-minute efforts to woo voters.
Akal Takht head priest Giani Gurbachan Singh said here on Sunday that he would examine how many of the Sikh political leaders had violated the Akal Takht edict barring the Sikhs from maintaining any links with Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh. In 2007 five head priests at the Akal Takht ordained that the Sikhs would not keep any links with the dera chief accused of blasphemy. The Akal Takht edict (hukamnaama) was issued after the dera chief had failed to appear before the Takht to explain his act of blasphemy.
with thanks : DNAINDIA : link in headline above for detailed news.

Human rights panel orders probe against 2 DRI officials for ‘torturing’ Sikh trader

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has ordered a departmental inquiry against two senior Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officers for allegedly cutting off a Sikh businessman’s beard on his refusal to pay a bribe. Taking a serious note of the incident, the commission has observed that it was an act of “breach of human dignity” and was done to insult his religion.
The incident had allegedly taken place during a raid on Mahendrapal Gujral, a Juhu-based businessman, who dealt in foreign cars. He was arrested last June, following the raid on his residence by senior intelligence officer D S Mehta.
Mehta was allegedly acting on the orders of his senior C Jagiasi, an assistant director in the DRI. The DRI has registered a case against Gujral for dealing illegally in high-end foreign cars and the case is still pending.

with thanks : indianexpress : link in headline above for detailed news. Must read.

India anger as Jay Leno Golden Temple jibe riles Sikhs

Jay Leno, 10 Jan 2012
India has condemned a comment by US comedian Jay Leno on the holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple of Amritsar.
A Leno skit showed the temple as the summer home of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Mr Romney has faced taxation questions over his huge wealth and many Sikhs are angry the temple has been depicted as a place for the rich.
The Sikh community has launched an online petition and an Indian minister called the comments "objectionable".
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told reporters: "It is quite unfortunate and quite objectionable that such a comment has been made after showing the Golden Temple."
with thanks : BBC News : link in headline above for detailed news report.

Dutch Sikh makes significant progress regarding Sikh identity

A passionate Sikh author has made significant progress with the Dutch authorities in a number of previous anomalies in the Dutch authorities to recognise the needs of the Sikh community, especially their articles of faith. 

This Sikh gentleman is Sardar Bhupinder Singh, he said “I am mailing you an important news for the Sikhs from the Netherlands with pleasure, honor and pride. This will further help to resolve our Turban issue and Identity problem, especially in Europe”

Due to Bhupinder Singh persistence he has recently received a letter from Mr Leers the Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum which highlights that  Sikhs can join the police force, military and the judiciary. In general, officials are not prohibited from wearing a turban or other symbols of their religion.

The controversy around Sikh names has been clarified and Sikhs children can be registered in accordance with Sikh traditions, but more importantly Sikh names that have been registered incorrectly can be changed.

with thanks : emgonline : link in headline above for detailed news.

Largest gurdwara in Gulf region opens

LUDHIANA: The largest gurdwara of Gulf region has been opened for public in Dubai. Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar has been constructed at a cost of $20 million. Though Dubai has 50,000 Sikhs staying there, it had no gurdwara so far.
Vice-president and prime minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, had granted 25,400 sq feet land for the gurdwara in Jebel Ali area.

with thanks : Times of India : link above.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sikh bridegroom breaks tradition, flies in for wedding

Amritsar, Jan 19 (PTI) Breaking the usual tradition of riding on a horseback to the bride's home, a Sikh bridegroom here flew in a helicopter to solemnise his marriage. Amidst great fanfare, the couple's relatives received Aman Sandhu as he landed at the Maharaja marriage palace on the outskirts of the city yesterday to marry Kismat Kaur. His childhood dream of approaching his bride in a chopper, and also taking her home for the first time by air, came true thanks to his father, Sandhu said. Owner of the marriage palace, Meharban Singh said a day before the wedding, a temporary helipad was made following the pilot's guidelines.

with thanks : IBNLive : link above.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wanna do something for the Downtrodden OR Slumdog sikhs ?????


Sikh temple project for disused Cosworth building in Northampton

PART of a disused factory building, owned by Formula 1 engineering firm Cosworth in Northampton, could be converted into a Sikh temple.
The development would involved two-storey building in St James Mill Road, St James, which is currently owned by Cosworth, being bought by the town’s Sikh community and converted into a temple.
Plans which were submitted to Northampton Borough Council this week, explained the temple would replace the current Sikh Gurdwara and community centre in St George’s Street, Semilong.
They said: “It is proposed to re-use the existing Cosworth building as a Gurdwara and community centre.
“The proposed use will involve a small extension to the building and the creation of an internal second floor.”

with thanks : northamptonchron : link in headline above for detailed news.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

As campaign hots up in Punjab, parties make beeline to deras

Come elections, and the religious ‘deras’ in Punjab become ‘must-visit’ centres for political parties to woo the followers. There are more than three dozen prominent ‘deras’ in the state with lakhs of followers.
While most of them do not openly support any party, the dera gurus indeed convey their preferences to their followers. During election days, it almost becomes mandatory for political leaders of the state to visit prominent deras and seek ‘blessings’ from the “babas”.
On Monday, more than 100 candidates belonging to the Akali Dal, the Congress, and other parties visited the Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa to seek blessings of its controversial chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, whose sect has more than three million followers in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh faces charges of murder and rape of a ‘sadhvi’ and has been involved in a major controversy with the Sikh community since April 2007 for allegedly dressing like 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.

with thanks : DNAINDIA : link in headline above for detailed news.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oxford death: Indian professor gets bail

with thanks : IBNlLive


'Deceased professor's widow gives clean chit to Indian- origin Sikh colleague over tragedy'

London, Jan 16(ANI): The widow of the Oxford professor who died at his Indian-origin Sikh colleague's home has told him she does not blame him for the tragedy.
Dr Devinder Sivia's family has said that deceased professor Steve Rowlings' wife Linda had called him on the night of the death because she was worried about her husband's 'emotional state'
Sivia, subsequently, had dinner with Professor Rawlings at a pub before taking his friend to his home.
Sivia said that Professor Rawlings was 'very emotional' and added that the latter attacked him, and collapsed with a suspected heart attack, while he was restraining him at his bungalow in Southmoor, near Abingdon.
"My brother defended himself and it looks like while restraining him he had a heart attack. Linda has called my brother and says she doesn't blame him, as she was the one who asked him to go to the pub and talk to Steven. She gave him instructions to talk to Steven at the pub because he was in an emotional state," The Daily Mail quoted Sivia's brother Gurdip, as saying.

with thanks : newstrackindia : link in the headline above for detailed news.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A helping hand for homeless Indians in Southall

AMRITSAR: Every year, several Sikhs travel from India to the UK both on travel as well as working visas. But there are several homeless Sikhs who have been languishing in Southall in West London

United SikhSikh NGO, has revealed the untold misery of Southall's homeless Indians who are unable to find jobs in the UK. Due to their immigration status, there are several Sikhs who want to come back to India. 

Speaking to TOI, the director of United Sikh, Mejinderpal Kaur said: "Satbir Kaur (name changed) had gone to the UK from Amritsar on a visitor's visa and ended up overstaying, so that she could earn some money for her husband and son back home." 

with thanks : times of India : link in headline above for detailed news.

France violated Sikh’s right to wear turban says UN

In an important victory for the Sikh community in France, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has ruled that France has violated the right of a Sikh who had been asked to remove his turban for a photo ID card.
Ranjit Singh, a 76 year old Sikh living in France has not had access to public healthcare any other social benefits since 2005 as he refused to take off his turban for the photo ID card. United Sikhs, a Sikh rights group had filed a communication with the UNHRC on behalf of Ranjit Singh in December 2008.
The UN body has found that France violated Ranjit Singh’s right to wear a turban in accordance to his religion. UNHRC observed in its judgment: “Even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author’s (Ranjit Singh’s) freedom of religion on a continuing basis because he would always appear without his religious head covering in the identity photograph and could therefore be compelled to remove his turban during identity checks.”

with thanks : nvonews : link in headline above for detailed news.

It's 'Namma Kannada' for these Sikh kids from Rajasthan

These five children meticulously learn the Kannada alphabet as their parents busy themselves each day within the manufacture and sale of cutlery. 

Their teachers at the Government Higher Primary School at KEB Colony here are thrilled that Ankit Singh, Karan Singh, Amrit Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Bharati Kaur - belonging to Sikh families hailing from Rajasthan - are learning the rudiment of the language that they have embraced as their own.

While Ankit, Amrit and Karan are in Class II, Kuldeep and Bharati are students of Class IV. Sumit, another child from Rajasthan, had studied Class I in a Hindi school, but has now joined this Kannada school for Class II. 

They reside at Sunnada Bhatti area of Siya Talab extension in the city, known for the utter lack of basic amenities. 

The Sikh families migrated six years ago to Raichur in search of a livelihood and it has been their home ever since.

with thanks : DeccanHerald : link in headline above for detailed news.

Holy book pages found in factory, Sikhs protest

Amritsar, Jan 14 (PTI) Over 40 gunny bags containing pages of Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib were found today in a cardboard manufacturing factory sparking protests from members of the community. Several radical Sikh outfits including Damdami Taksal, Shiromani Akali Dal Panch Pardhani and Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee held protests demanding immediate arrest of factory owners. Later, factory owners Ravinder Kumar and Arun Kumar were arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiments of a community, police said. The factory owners told police that they had purchased the bags from Amrtitsar-based Jawahar Publisher and were not aware that the pages were from principal Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. The Jawahar Publisher used to publish copies of the Guru Granth Sahib but the Punjab government later banned publishing of the holy book by any private publisher. The publishing rights were give to the SGPC, police said. Two workers of Jawahar Publisher were also booked for wilfully hurting sentiments of the Sikh community, police said.

with thanks : IBNLive : link in headline above.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sikh held after British colleague's body found at his home

London, Jan 13 (IANS) A 49-year-old Sikh mathematics lecturer at Oxford University has been arrested after the body of a British colleague was found at his home.
The body of Steven Rawlings, a 50-year-old astrophysicist, was found at the home of Devinder Sivia in Oxfordshire Wednesday, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Sivia -- who lectures at St John's College -- was arrested from his bungalow in Southmoor Thursday and questioned by officers from Thames Valley Police.
He is a stipendiary lecturer in Mathematics for Sciences at Oxford University. He lectures to undergraduates studying chemistry and physics and has published two books.
Rawling's family, however, said they did not believe that Sivia could have murdered his friend and blamed the death on "a tragic accident".
Linda Davey, the 64-year-old elder sister of Rawling, said he was not the type of man to get into an argument over anything.

with thanks MSN : link in headline above for detailed news.

UN human rights body backs French Sikhs on turbans

Sikhs in Paris (image from January 2004)
A Sikh man in France has won the backing of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in his fight over religious headgear.
It said France was violating Sikhs' religious freedom by forcing them to remove their turbans when having photos taken for passports and ID cards.
Ranjit Singh, 76, said he had turned to the UN because he found the French policy disrespectful and unnecessary.
The ruling is not legally binding. France was asked to respond by March.
Mr Singh welcomed the decision, telling the BBC: "[The turban] is part of my body. It is my identity and I cannot part with it."
Long battle
with thanks BBC : link in headline above for detailed news.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Proud of being a sikh !

Happy Lohri !

SIKHS Win Turban Case Against France at the UN

"The UN Human Rights Committee has asked France to submit a report by March 15th on measures it is taking to remedy the violation of the religious freedom of 76 year old Ranjit Singh,who was asked to remove his turban for his ID photo" said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, who is in the fore-front of a legal campaign for French Sikhs' right to wear their turban.

Bobigny, France, 12 Jan 2012 – The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has concluded that France had violated the religious freedom of 76 year old Ranjit Singh when he was asked to remove his turban for his ID photograph. This was disclosed today at a media conference, in Bobigny (near Paris), by the UNITED SIKHS legal team, who had filed a communication on behalf of Ranjit Singh to the UNHRC in December 2008.
The media conference was told that the UNHRC observed that "even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author's (Ranjit Singh's) freedom of religion on a continuing basis because he would always appear without his religious head covering in the identity photograph and could therefore be compelled to remove his turban during identity checks."
The Committee said that France had failed to explain how the Sikh turban hindered identification since the wearer's face would be visible and he would be wearing the turban it at all times, therefore, the regulation constituted a violation of article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was entered into force for France on 4 February 1981. You may read the Committees views in full here. The views were adopted at the 102nd session of the Committee's sitting.
"I had faith that truth and justice would prevail and I patiently waited for this day. I pray that France will now fulfil its obligation and grant me a residence card bearing my photo without baring my head," said Ranjit Singh, who despite his ill-health has had no access to the public health-care system or to social benefits since 2005 because his residence card was refused due to his refusal to remove his turban.
"UNITED SIKHS is heartened by the Committee's observations that France is under an obligation to provide Ranjit Singh with an effective remedy, including a reconsideration of his application for a renewal of his residence permit and a review of the relevant legislative framework and its application in practice. France, the Committee noted, is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future," said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, who addressed the media conference.
"We now look to France to fulfil its treaty obligations under International law and its moral duty to ensure that the freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone who lives within its territory," she added.
"We are very pleased with the views that the Committee adopted and we welcome France's compliance with these findings. We also look forward to a similar resolution for Shingara Singh, whose case is still pending before the Committee," O'Melveny & Myers, a New York law firm engaged by UNITED SIKHS, said in a statement through their attorneys who spoke during a telephone interview. A decision is still awaited for Shingara Singh, whose passport has not been renewed by France because he refused to remove his turban for his ID photograph.
You may read a previous press release on our advocacy for religious freedom here.
Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
Legal Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy ( ICHRA)
+33 605800605/+44 8701993328

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Delegation from Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Religion & Worldview, K.U.Leuven, Belgium

From January 21 to February 19, 2012,a group of 21 European students( Masters and Bachelors)along with Prof.dr.Bert Broeckaert of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (KU Leuven,Belgium) is to visit India for a India Study Course on Indian Religions.

During their one month stay in India they will study religious richness and cultural Diversity of fascinating sub-continent.They will visit religious & historical places in Delhi,Amritsar,Varanasi,Bodh Gaya,Sikkim/ participate in a wide variety of rituals/attend lectures deliver by local professors and specialists/ join-in discussions with representatives of various traditions to immerse in the world of Sikhism,Hinduism,Buddhism,Jainism,Christianity,Islam,Bhai & Iscon.

This study visit is an overall efforts of Prof. dr.Bert Broeckaert who (since 2002) has been organizing courses on Indian religions for students of the Faculty of Theology,KU Leuven to build insights of number of world religions amongst Europeans to deal with religious and cultural diversity.

Delegation will stay in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib,Delhi & in Goden Temple,Amritsar for four days.

KU Leuven Students in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in 2009

Prize for Masters Thesis on Sikhs : Sara Cosemans,KU Leuven Student

Sara Cosemans received the award for her research "Sikhs in Haspengouw: Migration and integration from a female perspective"
She is a student of history who did her master thesis about the Sikh community in Hesbaye. It earned her the first prize at the Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies (GCIS)& reaches out for the best master's thesis about multiculturalism,immigration and minorities at the KU Leuven,Belgium.

Sara said "When I heard about a thesis topic was about Sikhs,I was immediately approached - I was studying history after an exchange year in Guatemala and was sensitive to the backgrounds of migration. In Sint truiden-, where I live, you have the biggest and most traditional Sikh community in Belgium, but we really know very little about them. It is also very difficult to establish contacts. Luckily I have a friend whose parents Sikhs employing and housing, and she gave me in contact with people.In Haspengouw you have a group of some 1,500 registered Sikhs - from three waves of migration - and you can talk the successful integration without assimilation. Sikhs look obviously very distinctive and recognizable, but generally speak Dutch well and almost all have a home and even your own fruit farm. A number of young people studying at university successfully. I've mainly worked on the basis of interviews and also I have a lot of information collected online through Facebook by joining a number of groups. The title of my thesis refers not only to the fact that I primarily studied the position of women , but also on the fact that I did as a female researcher.It would be much harder for a man to penetrate the female part of the community. I mainly talked with women but also men, in order to determine how both groups influence each other's identity. "

"I am very honored to receive the prize and especially pleased with the publication by Acco .With the prize money - $ 1,500 ; I would like to study abroad and it will certainly come in handy. And hopefully I can continue with a PhD study ... "

Photo 1: Young girl wearing a chunni(a scarf)

Photo 2: Photo taken during a protest by the Sikhs in Louvain against the visit of Minister Kamal Nath.

Photo 3: Photo taken during the life of St.Truiden(2011) an initiative of the Cancer Foundation.

Dr.Gurdeep Kaur
University of Milan

Associate Professor
SGND Khalsa College
University of Delhi

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Manas Kee Jaat Sabhe Eke Pehchaanbo"

Recognize the Human Race as One
The celebration of the Birthday/ Prakash Utsav of the Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh serves as a reminder to all governments, civil servants, humanitarian-aid activists and educationalists in the world to Recognize the Human Race as One.

The prakash utsav(birthday)of the 10th Sikh Guru,Guru Gobind Singh marks the birth of a father, a son, a husband, a great warrior,a strategist,a just human rights activists,a scholar,a linguist, an institution builder. He reminds every human being to stand up for human rights and justice. Even in the 16th century,in Guru Gobind Singh's army,the concept of humanitarian aid existed,where one was allowed to provide medical-aid to both the sides of the army. He also sent Sikhs far and wide to learn from other cultures and religions.Thus,he spread the message of empowerment through education and Interfaith-dialogue,created an environment and a culture to co-exist with all human and just races.He inspired humanity to stand up for a righteous cause and to the defense of the defenseless ,to provide humanitarian aid to the needy .

UNITED SIKHS Organisation takes inspiration & tailored its programs from Gurus actions ,such as the International Civil Human Rights Advocacy, Humanitarian Aid and Community Empowerment and Education. UNITED SIKHS projects have been run for centuries on the guidelines of Sikh Gurus. Their slogan, Recognize the Human Race As One, is coined by Guru Gobind Singh himself.

UNITED SIKHS volunteers continue to provide selfless service globally to make this world a better place. Their motto in life :
"Lets join hands and follow the path set by our Guru so that justice, peace and prosperity prevails for all times to come".

With thanks :UNITED SIKHS

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventure Camp in GHPS - Hargobind enclave

Original Link :

Judicial interference in Sikh religious affairs is unacceptable

I am strongly of the view that religious affairs should be left to religious leaders and scholars because interference by other authorities; be it judiciary or executive most of the times turns out to be unacceptable and some times undesirable.
Though the Punjab and Haryana high court judgment allowing “Sehajdharis” to vote in the gurdwara elections came last month, I did not react to it immediately because I was surprised and amused after reading it. I went through all records, scholars’ views and scriptures and found no substantial evidence on “Sehajdhari” being an active part of Sikh ethos.
Sehajdhari, according to scholars, are those who are not Sikhs but believe in gurus and gurbani. This is a very wide canvass. Even the tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh ji, has clearly stated “Manas ki jatt sabhey ek hi pachenbo”; similarly it’s part of Sikh lore that “Awal allah noor uphaya kudrat de sab bande”— mankind belongs to one almighty.

But Guru Gobind Singh ji, who founded the Khalsa Panth, also made it very clear that the Sikh has to have a distinct identity. He said in no uncertain words: “Rehat pyari moh ko Sikh pyara nahi” (I will not like the Sikh who does not accept a distinct rehat identity).
In daily prayer, one thing is always mentioned: “Sikhan no Sikhi dan, kesh dan (Sikh(s) should be blessed with uncut hair)”.
The term Sehajdhari came into vogue after the formation of the Khalsa because many people slowly came into the Sikh fold after accepting and understanding its tenets.
Prominent examples of Sehajdhari becoming Sikhs include Master Tara Singh, the late Sardar Inderjit Singh, Bhai Mohan Singh and eminent scholar, professor Sahib Singh.
Justice JS Khehar is currently a judge of the Supreme Court. While heading a full bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court on May 30, 2009, he had held, “Retaining hair unshorn is a fundamental tenet of the Sikh”. He added, “Not only that, under the ‘Sikh rehat maryada’, a Sikh is not permitted to dishonour hair, or even to harbour any antipathy to hair of the head with which a child is born”.
Holding that religion must be perceived as it is, and not as another would like it to be, justice Khehar gave this landmark verdict on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the definition of a Sikh as contained in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, filed by Gurleen Kaur who had been denied admission to an MBBS course at the SGPC-run institution on the grounds that individuals with plucked eyebrows or trimmed beards are not eligible as these were against tenets of Sikh religion.
So there is a clear distinction between a Sehajdhari and a Patit (person who has willingly cut his hair and given up the Sikh identity).
Many Sikhs have discarded their identity especially in Punjab. They are the people who are now claiming that they are Sehajdhari, which is blatantly wrong. And on this issue judicial intervention is not acceptable. Remember the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case, which even forced the then union government headed by Rajiv Gandhi to introduce a bill in Parliament nullifying that decision because the government viewed the judgment as interference in religion? So why are Sikhs being made an exception? The recent judgment allowing Sehajdharis voting rights in gurdwara elections is at variance with the verdict of the same court delivered by justice Khehar.
Gurdwaras form the backbone of the Sikh community. Here prayers are recited every day, exhorting Sikhs to follow the teaching of Guru Gobind Singh ji. Here “Amrit Prachar” (baptism ceremony) is held to infuse the spirit of rehat maryada among Sikhs. How can these gurdwaras be run by Patits or by those who do not accept the basic creed of the Sikh religion?
There are several Hindu temples in the country where no non-Hindu is allowed to worship, leave aside administrating them. No non-Muslim can go to Mecca and Medina. So why should Sikh gurdwaras, administration or elections come under judicial preview?
While there is state interference in their religious affairs, when it come to Sikhs’ legitimate demand of separate marriage act, no action is taken.
One may ask why people who have willingly given up the Sikh identity are so desperate to be known as Sehajdhari. I believe this is becase they are in ‘non-man’s land’. They are confused because they don’t want to call themselves Hindus.
Eminent Sikh Scholar Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in his iconic work “Hum Hindu Nahi” very clearly and incisively explain the creed of SIkhism.
Whenever I go to other parts of the country, Sikhs complain: “We live by our religon against all odds and are proud of being Sikhs and its distinct identity, but we find it hard to explain to others when we see clean-shaven people coming from Punjab claiming to be Sikhs”.
It is time for the Sikhs leadership, clergy, scholars and intellectuals to put their differences aside and think about the future of the community and also make it clear to the government to leave Sikh institutions alone. Earlier attempts to interfere have led to disastrous consequences.
This is also the time to make the idfference between Shehadharis and Patits clear and spell out who has the right to vote and admninister gurdwaras. Sikhs need no state interference in this regard.
Source: Dr. Tarlochan Singh (Former Chairman, National Commission for Minorities).
with thanks : sikhsangat : link in headline above.