In an easily missed bit of North American Sikh intellectual bloodsport, IJ Singh and a graduate of UC Berkeley debated ideals about graduate education, the panth, and the academy. It is worth reading through for their different orientations towards the discussion, if at the very least to see how two people with very different positions in life (gender, education, class, age) interpret the issues at stake. In IJ’s article, he mentioned the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, an American government program that funds graduate research. I had to Wikipedia it. At the time I was an undergraduate interested in applying to PhD programs in the social sciences, and despite the wealth of resources at my university, I ended up scouring the internet for advice on how to successfully apply to doctoral programs that routinely get upwards of 400 applications for 5 or 6 seats. The National Science Foundation’s graduate research fellowship was part of the deluge of items to tackle: letters of recommendation, emails to potential advisors, picking programs, and the dreaded statement of purpose. To make matters worse, my primary advisor was on leave, and unlike many of my peers, I had few friends or places to turn where I felt comfortable getting honest and expert advice on how to craft applications that best demonstrated my accomplishments and abilities. Read more
The news is still a shock. The question of “why” has been one that I have heard most often. Followed by “what next?” It is this second question that most interests me, as well. The responses have been varied. There are some that have called out that we are all American Sikhs, although most within the community would be a bit confused as most of us use the title “Sikh-Americans”, while the term “American Sikhs” is generally used for those sections in our community that often were first introduced to Sikhi by the late Yogi Bhajan. There are others that are taking on the task to ‘teach’ others about Sikhi and raise talking points, when speaking to the media – either national or even regional. SALDEF and Sikh Coalition have been at the forefront and have even produced Sikhi 101-type materials that can be used when speaking to non-Sikh audiences. Both should be commended for their work. Still far more interesting to me – and is often the case within The Langar Hall – is how Sikhs dialogue with each other. While still important – in some ways it seems a bit less significant how Sikhs speak to non-Sikhs, when compared to how we speak to one another. National attention will wane; the media will become bored; yet, we will still be there with one another. Two recent postings largely speak to this very question. Read more
Bhujangi Youth Academy is one of Jakara Movement’s most challenging and promising programs. Now in its second year, we take a group of young men into the woods for 10-days in a program that couples Sikhi with discipline and emotional growth. Early wake-ups followed by morning Nitnem set the tone for the rest of the day, which includes classes on Sikh history, emotional development, Gurmukhi, life-skills, survival skills, martial arts, sports, swimming, physical activities, and campfires. Read more
Bhujangan 2012 15 girls. 4 days. A lifetime of change. On July 19, 2012, five Sikh women established the first ever leadership retreat for 11-17 year-old Sikh girls in Central California. Bhujangan, founded by the Jakara Movement earlier this year, was intiated with the enthusiasm and openness of 15 young Kaurs and their 9 sevadaars. The four-day and three-night retreat was filled with activities designed to enhance the girls’ understanding of Sikhi and our history, promote the building of confidence and friendships, and facilitate leadership development and an understanding of how a Kaur can identify and access opportunities for empowerment. Read more
"Stop wasting your time!" "Always Jakara this and that, what are you even doing?" "Is Jakara some sort of cult?" All of these comments and we could probably think of half a dozen more that would use inappropriate language on a blog like this are what we all commonly face. Sevadars often know their path is lonely and not always met with the enthusiasm from their parents. Even ridicule from friends and siblings are commonly expressed. You are not alone. We all face it, but we remain inspired by the seva, sangat, and the cause. The Guru's lalkaar (challenge) to us stirs us from our lethargy. Find a sangat that understands and supports you. Also be proactive - don't just disappear to do seva, tell your parents about it! Sign them up to our monthly newsletter! Share with them the goals of Bhujangi (our camp for "at-risk" young men) and Bhujangan (our camp aimed at teenage girls); talk to them about the topics discussed at Lalkaar CA and NY; get them to take your younger brothers/sisters/nephews/nieces to our Jakara Juniors camps; bring them to the next Sikholars conference. You'd be surprised at the difference it makes, once they see the bigger picture and the wonderful seva you are involved in (no guarantees with annoying siblings, though!) Read more
A HUGE thank you to ALL the amazing volunteers from Fresno and beyond that came and made this year a success. We are humbled by your seva. This year, we sold over $50,000 in fireworks (we are still figuring out expenses before we know our take-home). Check out this amazing video made by the one-and-only Navjit Singh Mann Read more
The pictures are up! A HUGE HUGE thank you to our dynamic quadro (?) - Ajay/Aman/Aman/Navi. And for those that have still not PLEDGED BEGAMPURA. Read on our petition (we're pushing for 200 people), share the information with your friends and family, push them to pledge. Let's keep the momentum going!
For those of you unable/unsure to come to Lalkaar 2012 - Building Begampura: Confronting Caste - hear some the thoughts of our participants and find out what you're missing out on!
Day 2 of Lalkaar 2012 complete. After early morning Nitnem, the conference began with a powerful video documenting the quotidian apartheid that occurs in our Gurdwaras, villages, hearts, and minds. The first workshop called for "deconstructing the divisions." Participants were challenged to re-think where we get knowledge about caste from, how it influences our thinking, and what are the ramifications for our community in the future. The second workshop, titled "confronting caste" sought a historical understanding by re-looking at the institutions that shook the basis of "untouchability" in Punjab. The Gurus gave us a "spirit" with the institutions of langar, khanda di pahul, Singh/Kaur, and even calling for Sikhs to discard caste and pay no attention to it in marriage. Discussions revolved around Gurbani, Rahit Literature, and selections from Jagjit Singh's The Sikh Revolution. Here are some pics: Keep reading below the fold for the rest info on the rest of the day! Read more