Category Archives: Culture/Traditions

BOLLYWOOD LET ME CALL YOU OUT REAL QUICK: RELIGIONISM AND ETHNICISM IN BOLLYWOOD

(Disclaimer: I wrote this like months ago, in case something I say doesn’t make sense time-wise.)

I hope religionism and religionist are actual words…

White privilege, Gandhi, man—I’ve been going HARD lately. So I was like, I should definitely do something light-hearted this week. But then I figured, I might as well get it all out, you know?

BOLLYWOOD.

Cheerful…

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Scenic…

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Romantic…

soulmate

And overall just a hoot, right?
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Mhmm. It is all of those things. But, as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes, bollywood gets a little bit offensive.

Just…

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A tad…
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rude.
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When portraying minorities. The minority I’ve noticed being discriminated against the most is Sardars, who are Sikh men who wear turbans. Sardars are almost always portrayed as drunk, irrational, uneducated men. Some infamous offenders are Jab We Met and Veer Zaara (although Bachchan isn’t actually wearing a turban in Veer Zaara). Also, Sikhs are often shown doing things that are blatently against Sikhsims, such as idol worship, and, overall,  Bollywood mixes Hinduism and Sikhism. A lot.  And I have a couple issues with that.

First, the whole drunk thing. An argument I hear for this very often is, “But it’s true!! Sikhs ARE drinkers!” Okay, I get it. It is true. But…it’s true to the point that it’s like, an issue. Like, the biggest issue for us, basically. Drugs and alcohol are killing Panjab. 73% of Panjabi youth are addicted to drugs. Not just users. Addicts. I have family members who have had to recover from serious drug problems at very young ages. And yes, Sikhs are known to drink. Fine. But does that mean that Bollywood has to portray Sikhs as alcoholics all the time? Think about little Sikh boys and girls. When all they is  see Sikhs portrayed as is drinkers, that’s what they’re going to think is expected of them. And so how can we ever progress? We can’t. And Bollywood’s not concerned about it.

Now when Sikhs are somewhat reasonable people in Bollywood, it’s great! But, it’s also not, because, the more reasonable they are, the more the movie makers want us to believe they’re actually Hindus. They do pooja, worship idols, have Hindu weddings, and do other things that I don’t even know what they’re called, because as a Sikh, I never learned them. Also, characters who are Hindus often wear karas. This I just don’t get. Like, I was thinking about it the other day–karas were given to Sikhs so they could be identified as Sikhs on the battlefield. And so I was thinking, I get that religious traditions blend together sometimes, but karas are for ride or die Sikhs, like, literally. When I was in India, I noticed how there isn’t really a line between Sikhs and Hindus, and that scared me a little. We make up just 2% of India’s population, making it totally possible for us to kind of get washed away. And seeing so much Sikh-Hindu confusion in Bollywood seems like a symptom of this. Even Rocket Singh, which is the best portrayal of a Sikh-Sardar Bollywood has ever done, shows Sikhs praying to pictures. This even got my grandma heated. So you know it’s not just me, a rebelious youth. Also, there’s the fact that the Indian constitution says that Sikhism is part of Hinduism. SO YOU KNOW, THERE’S THAT.

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Look, I love watching B-wood movies. And I’m not trying to turn anyone off of them. I just feel like we need to be aware that they don’t portray minorities, like Sikhs and Muslim, well. I don’t think anyone should stop watching them. But when you do watch them, and you see that the only Sikh and Muslim characters are the rickshaw drivers or something like that, notice. Just notice. And if you want to stand up in the theater, declare the movie ethnicist or religionist, walk out, and hold a picket-sign protest, feel free. If you feel like sending a strongly worded email to Karan Johar about how, while you have marathons of his movies every rainy day, they are damaging the image of minorities in front of an international audience, be my guest. Or blog about it heatedly. Either one.

See you next time, hopefully engaged readers,

-M

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MALERKOTLA

I told you I’d be back soon :)))

You guys, I have to tell you about this city I found out about, OMG. 

It’s in Panjab, India. 

 

 

File:India Punjab.svg

 

 

It’s called Malerkotla.

 

Katrina Kaif and Saif Ali Khan were there once. 

 

And it’s just your average, Panjabi city. 

 

 

…EXCEPT IT’S  REALLY NOT. 

Malerkotla has a Muslim majority, unlike the Sikh majority in the rest of Panjab (India side), and the Hindu majority of most other Indian states. Before 1947, this would not be unusual. But after the Partition, many India-side Muslims moved to newly-created Pakistan. But Malerkotla Muslims? They were basically like, nahh, we’re good here. While the rest of India and Pakistan was suffering from a crazy amount of rapes and murders, apparently nothing happened in Malerkotla. If this isn’t suprising enough, wait untill you hear why this was. 

 

In 1705, the 7 and 9 year old sons of the 10th Prophet of Sikhism were sentanced to death by being bricked alive (???) by a powerful Mughal, Wazir Khan. Eventually, the sons, Fateh Singh and Zorowar Singh, were actually bricked alive, and to this day, Sikhs everywhere remember their martyrdom yearly. Growing up, I learned about this event. But what I did not learn about was the protest to the sentencing by Sher Mohammad Khan. He was the Nawab of Malerkotla, and argued with Wazir Khan, saying that the act to be committed was against Islam, and was inhumane. When his protests weren’t heard, he walked out of the court. After the 10th Prophet’s sons were killed, the Prophet himself approached Sher Mohammad Khan, and thanked him for his protest. He also gifted him with one of his own swords. So, beautiful story, right? DID I MENTION. MOHAMMAD KHAN WAS WAZIR KHAN’S BROTHER? That’s right. He went against his own bro to try and save people of a different faith. And so Malerkotla has continued to reference this strange, heroic yet tragic, event, when it comes to inter-religion dealings. During the Partition of India, they were basically like, “Should we move to Pakistan? Ehh, remember that time our guy tried to save your guys? That was nice. Let’s just stay here then.” Even during the Sikh genocide of the 1980s, it seems that literally nothing happened in Malerkotla. 

 

Not to mention, it has some really beautiful architecture.

 

 

 

 

 I think another reason I love this city so much is that it gives me a glimpse of what Sikh-Muslim relations must have been like before the Partition. When the Partition happened, my family in Pakistan had no intention of moving to India. It was only after they saw the violence that they decided that moving to India might be safer than staying (which ended up not really being true.) But I think it’s pretty cool that even though they knew that they would be living in a Muslim-majority country, they did not want to leave. I guess the way they saw it was, they weren’t Muslims, but they weren’t Hindus either. So why move, only to be in another country where they’d still be a minority? They might as well stay in the home they know, with the people they know. I can’t help but wish they had indeed stayed, especially if the result would have been more cities like Malerkotla.

I mean, not that Sikh-Muslim relations are bad now, I don’t think. I know that there’s a bunch of Sikhs in Kashmir, and they’re tight with the Muslims there too. Also Iran. 

 

ANYWAYS.

If you’re interested, check out these videos on Malerkotla. Also do it if you’re not interested. Like, I put them there, you know? It’s just common courtesy. 

 😉

 

M’kay. See you next time 🙂

-M

 

P.S–You guys, I like this. Instead of weekly posts, I’ll post anytime I have something really cool to talk about. I feel like this is better for everyone? Maybe I’ll actually post more this way? Also, quality of quantity? Question mARKS???

 

 

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PIND APPRECIATION AND JATTS AND BACKWARDS CLASS STATUS

SORRY NO POST LAST WEEK AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

A lot of Panjab, India is rural land made up of tons of small villiages, or “pinds” in Panjabi. Basically, there are cities, and there are pinds. Cities in Panjab are some of the richest in both India and I think Pakistan too–they can  have Pizza Huts and KFCs and the people wear jeans. And they really, truly are beautiful.

But when I was in Panjab, sitting in the car for hours at a time, about every fifteen minutes or so, the air would suddenly become fresher, the roads became clearer, and the view outside the window changed to this. CLICK IT. DO IT. PLEASE. I DIDN’T WANT TO COPY PASTE BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE AN OFFICIALISH PHOTOGRAPHYISH BLOG. BUT JUST CLICK ON IT YOU WON’T REGRET IT.

Panjabi pinds are where it’s at. Just ask Bollywood.

jabwemetpind

Panjabi pinds are famous for their bright yellow fields of mustard, but they also grow wheat and sugarcane, among other crops. So I was definitely expecting those to be there. But I figured seeing that bright yellow sarson di khet would be kind of rare? Like maybe I’d get to glimpse a handful of these fields of mustard.

THEY WERE EVERYWHERE THO. Like I don’t think we ever drove 30 minutes without seeing at least one.

^^some of my pics from the car.

Another thing I didn’t foresee was these amazingly beautiful trees. They were like thin, tall trees with greenish yellowish leaves and, here’s the magic, they were lined up in perfect rows. Driving by them, which happened just as often as driving by the mustard fields, they looked like some kind of an optical illusion.

And CLICK HERE OKAY LOOK AT THIS AMAZING PICTURE OF THE PIND TREES THAT ISN’T MINE BUT IS BEAUTIFUL AND YOU REALLY SHOULD. This picture captures the optical illusionness of it all. It’s the same one I linked you to before. I’m linking you to it twice because for some reason I’m afraid you didn’t click it the first time #trustissues

And yeah. I’m starting to see that pinds are kind of a big part of Panjabi culture. They’re kind of more traditional. I didn’t get to check out any pinds that much while in India, but I like to imagine the ladies wear salwar kameezes, the guys wear kurtas, the kids speak Panjabi, and everyone loves to get down and giddha and bhangra, and on warm nights they sleep on cots on the roofs, under the stars.

*sigh*….pinds, man…<3

Unfortunately, pinds are also where the majority of Panjab’s huge drug problem lies. See, people who live in pinds are usually farmers, and Panjab is facing an enormous agricultural crisis right now, one which the Indian government has not helped very actively. In fact, the government does some things that tend to hurt Panjabi farms more than help them, such as channel more than half of Panjab’s water sources out of Panjab…and because of the agricultural crisis, many Panjabi farmers are without work, and have turned to drugs. There are some pinds in Panjab where you can find syringes littered on the ground. It’s a heartbreaking situation. From what I’ve heard, pretty much every family has been adversely affected by drug addiction.

Panjabi pinds are a wonder. They have a dark aspect to them, what with all the drug use, but they are also so beautiful and have so much culture. Sometimes people call others “pindus” or “pendus,” and it’s taken to mean you are ignorant (when I first typed this I spelled it “ignortant.” like just try saying that out loud.)…it’s usually used lightheartedly, but still, not too cool. I’ve probably done it too, and I’m seeing now how wrong and unfair it is. Now, if anyone ever calls me “pendu,” I always take it as a compliment.To be from a pind is a beautiful thing 🙂

Oh! Also, one more thing! A good amount of people who live in pinds are part of the Jatt caste. A lot of them are Sikhs, and in Sikhi, we are taught not to abide by the caste system. Buuuut sometimes the culture around you trumps religion. Personally, I don’t like to identify people by their caste, or even acknowledge castes. But this topic kind of focuses around a certain caste, so I’m going to this time. 

Anyways, Jatts and Jatt Sikhs  were recently named a “backwards class” by the Indian government as I found from on Diljit’s instagram

 

And at first, I was annoyed, like a lot of other Panjabis and Sikhs. I just thought it was more of the government hating on us, yet again. But this was the Panjabi government, when usually (but not always) it’s the federal government that sips the haterade. So I looked it up, and it’s actually kind of a good thing! Basically, the Indian government has set up this title of “backwards class,” as they call it, and by affording a group this title, the government acknowledges that this group has been underprivileged in the past, and that the government should do it’s best to put the group on equal ground with the rest of the country. It’s kind of like acknowledging their minority status. Here, Wikipedia says it better:

“Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are educationally and socially disadvantaged. It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs). The OBCs were found to comprise 52% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, a figure which had shrunk to 41% by 2006 when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place.[1]

In the Indian Constitution, OBCs are described as “socially and educationally backward classes”, and the Government of India is enjoined to ensure their social and educational development – for example, the OBCs are entitled to 27% reservations in public sector employment and higher education. The list of OBCs maintained by the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dynamic, with castes and communities being added or removed depending on social, educational and economic factors.”

 

So I think this is actually a good thing! I mean…they probably should’t have “backwards” in the title, because it throws people off a little. Nonetheless, it’s a good thing. 

Apparently, the government didn’t include Jatts in this classification the first time around, and a lot of Panjabis were annoyed at this. But the government actually went back and added Jatts! 

And from what I know about the agricultural crisis and the drug problem, I think the hardships that Jatts and Jatt Sikhs are facing deserve to be acknowledged. Heck, all Panjabis in India probably deserve this status.  But this is a good start 🙂 

All women are afforded this status as well. 

 

Well that was one heck of a tangent. Man I hate when I go on tangents right before the end of the post. Because then it’s like, how do I end this now? Do I tie it back to the original topic? Do I pretend like the tangent never even happened? Do I pretend like I totally forgot about the original topic? Idk…this is too much. Too much stress. I love you. Bye. 

-M

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SILK ROAD REPUBLIC

Why are all my post titles in caps these days. 

Okay, so a couple of weeks back I came across this really cool clothing line called Silk Road Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, it’s a contemporary Afghan clothing line started (I believe) by a woman of Afghan descent living in the West. 

This clothing line struck me for many reasons. Firstly, “Silk Road Republic” is a very awesome name. Cause like, the Silk Road is like that area:

And republic is like…fashion. You know. Fashiony things. Like Banana Republic. Okay and SECONDLY I thought it was cool because I LOVE seeing and learning about ethnic wear from all over South and Central Asia. And I hadn’t seen very many retailers for Afghan wear before (not that I had really looked thoroughly). And this one has an awesome website and everything! The final thing that struck me about Silk Road Republic was how beautiful the clothes are. When most people think of Afghanistan, they think of war and barren fields and miles upon miles of dull land and overwhelming hardship. People also don’t tend to associate Afghans, particularly the women, as fashion-savvy, because of spread of the image of the impoverished, widowed Afghan in a dusty, light-blue burqa. And I mean, it’s totally fine to work a burqa, if that’s what you like! And it’s true that burqas are widely worn in Afghanistan, particularly in the past couple of decades. It’s just that they have not always been common practice in Afghanistan, nor are they the only thing Afghan women have ever worn, the way we might think they are. Afghanistan has a rich, colorful history and culture, just like the colorful clothing sold by Silk Road Republic. The website’s “about” reads–

Once the center of the Silk Road, Afghanistan and its people have held onto many treasures. Afghans are a beautiful mixture of different cultures and backgrounds blended into one identity and with this we build onto fashion. After decades of invasions and civil wars, Afghanistan lost many beauties, including its posh sense of style. The traditional clothing were being made and sold by middle aged men, because women were not allowed to take part in any business outside their home.

Slowly and steadily, the world is beginning to see the hidden treasures of Afghanistan. We at Silk Road Republic want the world to realize these beauties through their fashion, where the east meets the west.

 

How beautiful is that?

I wish the people behind Silk Road Republic all the success they deserve for doing such a cool thing. Definitely go check out their stuff! They have some beautiful things I’ve got my eye on for when I have enough cha-ching. 

And tell me what you guys think in the comments! What’s the ethnic wear where you’re from, or that you like the most? Mine has got to be Panjabi Patiala salwars…so comfortable! What about you? Also, I’ve been wondering if what’s sold by Silk Road Republic is specific to any one ethnic group of Afghanistan…they have quite a few ethnic groups within their borders, and I’m guessing there’s some variation in their dress. What do you guys think?

Basically what I’m getting here is just please leave a comment about anything really, that’d be great 🙂

 

See you next week 🙂

-M

 

P.S: Some interesting things are going on in Pakistan right now, including their dealings with the Taliban and with religious schools, known as madrassas….I will definitely try to post sometime this week about them. In the meantime, you can get some good info on it all here. 

 

 

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!!BALLEWOOD!!

Go back up. Read the title. Make sure you don’t think it says “!!Bollywood!!” Now look back down. Your man could smell like Old Spice.

 

If you don’t know those commercials, this has undoubtedly been an awkward intro for you.

 

Guys. It’s been a few months now that I’ve had the TINIEST obsession with Bollywood. But it’s kind of over now. I have moved on. But it’s okay! Let me explain what has happened.

 

Here, let’s set the scene. You’re just outside, I don’t know, Amritsar, Panjab, admiring the mustard fields.

 

wearing your nicest Patiala salwar

 

eating some saag and roti, yum.

 

When, all of a sudden, you get some saag stuck in your throat (wow smooth I didn’t even know that was possible). You cough. Your companion of choice

 

asks you, concerned, if you need some water.

 

“Paani cheye?”

 

kajolface1 kajolface2 kajolface3

EVERYONE. SPEAKS. HINDI. IN INDIA. EVEN IN PANJAB.

Not saying you do, Mickey Singh. You good.

“Thx.”

 

Okay, not everyone spoke Hindi in Panjab.  But A LOT of people did. And I wouldn’t even be that mad, right? If it weren’t for the fact that Panjabi is a dying language. But it is…so…

 

kajolface3

 

And, I mean, I get it. Hindi is to India as English is to America. I definitely speak more English than Panjabi, and I am Panjabi. So how critical can I be to Panjabis in India who speak Hindi? But I guess I was just expecting to hear more Panjabi, at least in Panjab, you know? And after visiting Panjab, I gained such a huge appreciation for Panjabi culture and the language, even more than I had before. And there’s obviously nothing wrong with non-Panjabi cultures, IT’S NOT THAT, OKAY? It’s just that, Panjab, atleast the state in India, is so tiny compared to the rest of the country.

panjab

And while I was there, it just kind of hit me how possible it is for Panjabi culture in India to kind of be washed away and forgotten, because it’s such a small part of the country, geographically. So basically I’ve become that auntie at gurdwara that tells you you must speak Panjabi, beta. That’s the whole point of what I’m trying to say, summarized into one convenient analogy.

 

And so now that I’m back in da states, I’ve kind of been watching Panjabi movies a little more and Bollywood movies a bit less, because of the bigger appreciation I have for all things Panjab.

AND GUESS WHAT.

I ❤ THEM.

THE…PANJABI MOVIES. YEAH OKAY. YOU GOT IT.

No, they’re not usually as high-budget as Bollywood movies, and yes, they can be somewhat corny, on occasion. But like, who doesn’t love corn?

No? k.
So one of the movies I’ve watched is called Chak Jawana.
I actually saw this before I left for India. It’s all about this dude and his friends in Panjab who do drugs and drink a lot and how drugs are ruining their pind (villiage) and Gurdas Maan comes to help. Drugs are a huge problem in Panjab, so I loved the message of this movie. The corn factor in this one can sometimes be a tad high, but it’s totally worth it. You will cry. Wait when did this turn into a movie review.
I also saw Sadda Haq before I left for the homeland.
It’s depicts the Sikh genocide of 1984, and it’s pretty great. Sad, but really really good, and much needed, in my opinion. And while most of the movie is serious, there’s a really cute song in it!
Ooh, no subtitles….well “Naina” means “eyes.” So….that’s that part.
As you can see, it’s not a Bollywood-scale dance number, but it’s still really sweet and enjoyable!
Another movie I saw before the trip was Long Da Lishkara <3333333333333333
I haven’t seen the whole thing, but it’s kind of an older one and it’s soooooooo great so far omg. My mom first saw it when she was a young lass, and she loves it too. And did I mention IT MADE GURDAS MAAN FAMOUS?!? Like he’s not even the main guy in it, in fact he plays a hermit-y guy, but he sings so well throughout the movie and tugs at the heartstrings sooooo incredibly much, that everyone was like WHO DAT.
This is his best-loved song from the movie, and possibly his all time best-loved, “Challa.”
GAHHH IT’S SO BEAUTIFULLY SUNG AND THE MUSIC IS BEAUTIFUL IT’S LIKE A CLASSIC PANJABI TUNE AND THE LYRICS ARE SO SAD AHHHHHHHEOIGJKLD.C
OKAY. Now that I’m back, two of the Panjabi movies I’ve watched are……….Jatt and Juliet and Jatt and Juliet 2

And I guess they really did me in. I am now in love with Panjabi movies. These two were so hilarious and great, and there’s just no going back for me now. Plus, I found out (thanks to the internet) that, just like there’s a name for the Hindi/Mumbai movie industry– Bollywood–there’s a name for the Panjabi movie industry. And it’s Ballewood.

I DIED. IT’S SO PERF.
“Balle Balle” is like a Panjabi phrase you say when you’re like, dancing, or if something good happens lol. BALLEWOOD. I JUST CAN’T.
I was so excited when I found this out that I even edited the “Cinema of Punjab” wiki page to mention “Ballewood” but I guess someone unedited it or something,  idk. Idk how Wikipedia works.
Anyways guys, I don’t know what it is. Maybe I love hearing people speak so much Panjabi. Maybe I love that they show Panjab. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t need subtitles to watch them. But Panjabi movies are my thang right now ❤ I would ABSOLUTELY recommend them to you guys, but I haven’t run across any versions with English subtitles 😦 So if you don’t know Panjabi, this might hinder your ability to enjoy them, just a bit. But hopefully they’ll start making them with subtitles? That’d be cool! Then more people could enjoy them!
Okay, imma peace out. Bye the way, I’m still trying to think of a way to finish telling you guys about the trip. But at the same time, I’m wondering how much you guys want to hear of it? I mean, I could write posts on posts about the trip, and I’d love too, but is that what you guys want? Do you have anything you for sure want me to talk about regarding it? Or any suggestions on the best way to blog about it?  LET ME KNOW! PLS!
Bye ily 🙂
-M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE SWAGGY SARDARS OF PANJAB

Aight. So while I was in Patiala, Panjab, I saw. SO MANY. Fashionable sardars. A sardar is a Sikh who wears a turban. Like, Patiala in general is so stylish. I got two of my suits from there and some shoes and everyone’s dress was soo on point. But at one point I just saw this guy with a plaid shirt and a sweater vest and a red pagh riding a bike and it was like the swaggiest thing I’ve every seen and I was like yo. I have to start documenting this. And so the pictures you see I took over the course of about an hour during which I resolved to take a picture of every swaggy sardar I could capture. It only lasted an hour because I soon realized that there was no way I could get them all. But here are a small fraction of the sardars of Panjab. Some of them had style, others had swag, and each of them had it going on in one way or another. Annnnd some of these pictures have no sardar in them at all, but the internet is being funky and I can’t delete them. Okay, enough of my technical woes. Enjoy the swag!!! 🙂

-M

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I’M BACK AND THIS TIME WITH AMRITSAR

what

 

 

I was looking for “I’m back” gifs and I stumbled upon this and I was overcome with frustration over not having put this in my last post before I left that I just abandoned the gif hunt.

ANYWAYS. GUYS I’M BACK. I WENT TO INDIA. I WENT THERE. AND NOW I’M BACK. IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I HAVE TO GO CHANGE MY ABOUT. AGHHHHHH.

It was amazing!!! I don’t really know how I’m going to go about blogging about the trip, because there’s soooooooo much I want to talk about. But one of the things that’s been sticking in my mind the most since I came back is Amritsar. So why not start there 🙂

So we were in Amritsar on the 3rd and 4th days of our trip. (AM I REALLY SAYING THIS RIGHT NOW IS THIS FOR REAL WAS I REALLY IN AMRITSAR WHAT IS THIS REAL LIFE?!!??) We landed in Delhi (WHAT??), stayed the night there, drove to Chandigarh (NA-UH!), which is the capital of Panjab the next day, drove to Amritsar the following morning, and drove BACK to Chandigarh the following day. Lorrrrd have mercy. I’m tired just typing it!

We were pretty tired by the time we got to Amritsar, but we were also excited 🙂 We had planned on quickly stopping at our hotel, matha taiking in Darbar Sahib, and driving 30-40 minutes to Wagah border, then driving back to Amritsar and spending the night there. But parking was really hard at the time so we decided to just go straight to Wagah and skip the initial matha taiking. Wait Wagah was amazing btw. How am I supposed to not talk about WAGAH RIGHT NOW OMG

M CALM DOWN STAY ON TOPIC

YOU’RE RIGHT VOICE OF REASON YOU’RE RIGHT.

Okay we will talk about Wagah soon. But Amritsar was amazing too 🙂 Sooooo we got to our hotel after coming back from the border, and we quickly changed our clothes and walked to Darbar Sahib. Our hotel was literally less than a minute’s walk from Harmandar Sahib. It was awesome. And the two guys who were working there at the time were very nice and really respectful towards my grandparents and one of them gave me the wifi password and idk you just always share a bond with a person after something like that. Okay, so after enjoying a couple minutes of wifi, we walked to Harmandar Sahib. Yup, we walked. Our hotel, Hotel Darbar View, was true to it’s name. It was maybe a 100 feet walk to Harmandar Sahib, like how perfect is that?! PLUS OMG, mine and my brother’s room had a balcony–

looking out from the balcony

looking to the right from the balcony

looking down 

Do you see why I loved this city? Or am I being irrationally obsessive as I usually am in all aspects of life?? Idk! It was so…magical! 

Okay sorry. So we walk to Harmandar Sahib, and my bro and I see the most significant gurdwara in the world for the first time ever.

It was sooooooo beautiful. Everything is worked out really well, it’s super clean and everything. You go in and matha taik and then you can just kind of chill. You can sit and listen to kirtan or do paht or just take it all in. Yes, we got to go upstairs, and it was amazing. There are spiral staircases and original walls and you can even go on the roof, which is amazing. 

The next day, my grandparents, my Massi Ji and I all walked to Harmandar Sahib at dawn. It was the most beautiful thing. I know I keep saying that over and over but I have no idea how to describe how it felt. I mean, first of all, it’s a holy city. And when you get to Harmandar Sahib, it’s just so big and there’s such a sense of unity. Everyone sits and takes their shoes off together and everyone is super chill and, in the morning, they had cha for whoever wanted it in different colored cups–free of charge, obviously, because that’s how Sikhs roll– and when you look up there are pigeons flying and kites and the moon setting and the sun rising and you can hear the kirtan and your bare feet are freezing and yet somehow it feels good…

I think it’s time to let the pics do the talking.

Night visit:

 

A memorial dedicated to shaheedis (martyrs) from the 1984 Sikh genocide…the entire place was actually a huge complex consisting of so many beautiful buildings…this was the first we saw. 

Close-up of the memorial. That’s all stone-work.

Another close-up…I loved the carved khandas.

Inside the memorial, notice how cool the ceiling looks.

Entrance to the main building!

Nishaans, which are our flags.

People doing seva (selfless service, which is part of Sikhism) polishing the metal.

Up close!

Getting prashad.

On the walkway.

Almost in!

Dawn visit:

Walking there from our hotel.

Cha!

fam-fam

religious pigeons

the moon!

I love me some minarets. 

Leaving Harmandar Sahib…the sun was up!

Hotel Sapphire, which was right next to our hotel.

We were walking away from Harmandar Sahib and I just couldn’t stop taking pictures…the entire city is so beautiful. 

I missed the shot, but this man came out of his house or shop and gave this stray dog some food…only time I saw that in India.

Y’all know I’m a sucker for religious diversity <333 Amritsar is full of it!

A nihang!

Our gali (street/alley)

At some point I just started taking pictures of everything…

…this is all over the span of maybe 15 seconds

From our balcony again 🙂

And yeah 🙂 That was Amritsar, guys. We weren’t even there for 24 hours, but it somehow managed to be my favorite city. I loved how you could see things written in  Gurmukhi and Urdu and other languages all over the place, I loved the nice people, the atmosphere, andddd it was pretty cool knowing Lahore was maybe an hour’s drive from us. They say Lahore and Amritsar are twin cities…one day I’ll be able to judge for myself 🙂 

Well you guys, that’s it for this week. I MISSED THIS! IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK! How did the automatic postings go, by the way? Did they work? At first I thought they didn’t, then I thought they might have, then I was like wait what I thought that was a post I published myself, and now I’m just confused. But hopefully it was okay? I can’t wait for next week’s post, I have sooooooo much to tell you guys. Like I don’t even know how I’m going to do it. I even have stuff I’ve wanted to post since before I left, AND next week is a gurpurab, AND Valentines day is coming up and lawd knows I have to do something special for that bc it was such a hit last year…we are in for a crazy few weeks 😛

I can’t wait 🙂

M

P.S–I thought about it for a couple days, and I agree with the coalition…#pAnjab

P.S.S–It’s okay if that didn’t make any sense to you…MAYBE I’LL POST ABOUT IT UGH SO MUCH TO POST ABOUT AHHH

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Give Thanks: Remembering a Sacrifice

You probably know that this Thursday is THANKSGIVING!!! You might also know that it is HANUKKHA as well!! Woo! And you probably DON’T know that Thursday is also Shaheedi Gurupurab!!

SAY WHAT M?! 

Basically, a Shaheedi Gurpurab in Sikhism is the martyrdom anniversary of someone significant in our religion. And for this particular one on Thursday, it’s pretty interesting that it falls on Thanksgiving. Let me tell you why.

This Shaheedi Gurpurab marks the death of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the 9th prophet of Sikhism. To give some background, there are ten prophets in Sikhism. When Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s predecessor, Guru Har Krishan Ji, was dying, he said that the next prophet would be found in the village of Bakala. Predictably, TONS of dudes from Bakala were like I’m totally the next one. And so the man who’s task it was to find the next prophet was in quite a pickle. His name was Baba Makhan Shah Labana…we’ll call him Butter for short. Some time earlier, Butter had been on a boat that was sort of capsizing, and he prayed to God and said if he survived he would donate 500 mohars, the currency at the time. What he said was, and this is form Wikipedia so idk how accurate it is, “”Please save my ship and my men… I pledge the 500 gold mohars tied to the belt at my waist, which without your help will soon be at the bottom of the sea. Please accept this as my humble offering.” 

Fast forward back the the search for the next Guru. When he got to Bakala, he began handing out mohars. Tons of people were flocking him and telling him they were the prophet. He was like lol aight whatever you say people smh. A man named Tegh Bahadur, though, was just chilling in his house. When Butter eventually crossed paths with Tegh Bahadur, he handed him two mohars. The (not yet named) Guru took them and smiled. He asked, “Where are the other 498?” 

:O

GET IT? BECAUSE BUTTER HAD PRAYED TO GOD AND OFFERED 500. BUT GURU TEGH BAHADUR WASN’T ON THE SHIP WITH HIM OR ANYTHING. SO HOW DID HE KNOW. 

:OOOOOOOO

Needless to say, Butter freaked and went around yelling from the hilltops that he had found the prophet.

Okay. Background over. Back to the Thanksgiving-Shaheedi Gurpurab connection.

During the Mughal rule in India, many people converted to Islam. Some did so voluntarily, while others were forced. At one point, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was trying to get a certain group of Hindus to convert, and these Hindus went to the Sikh prophet Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji for help. He told them to tell the Mughal that if he could convince himself (Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji) to convert, then all of the Hindus would as well. And so the Hindus were like um ok lol if you’re sure and told this to Aurangzeb, who wasn’t to happy. In fact, he had Guru Ji arrested and tortured until he embraced Islam, which he never did. Finally, Aurangzeb told Guru Ji that he could either become a Muslim or be killed. And killed he was.

Guru Ji was not just standing up for Sikhs. He was defending Hindus, who practice a completely different faith than us and whose teachings contradict many of ours. Additionally, Hindus had, on occasion, betrayed Sikhs our to enemies. This didn’t stop him from giving his life for them. Furthermore, he was not trying to take a stand against Islam. The founders of Sikhism were known to be tight with some Hindus AND Muslims. What he was doing was standing up for everyones’ freedom to live his or her life the way she or he wants, as a Sikh, as a Muslim, a Hindu, anything. And this Thursday, I don’t know how much I’m going to be celebrating the beginning of the systematic removal of Native Americans from their land, but one of the things I am going to try to remember the sacrifice Guru Ji made. The fact that I am a Sikh can be directly traced to his sacrifice, and for this, I am thankful.

What about you guys? What’s going to be on your minds this Turkey Day? Comment below, I’d love to know. 🙂 Yes, I am a rapper.

-M

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BANDI CHOR DIVAS!

Okay first things first. I know I said I would do more on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this week, but Bandi Chor Divas is this coming Sunday AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT IT BEFORE IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS, YOU KNOW?
Also, I know I said I might post a little bit during the week about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but then I thought about it, and I know it emails some of you everytime I post, and I don’t want you to get like multiple emails a week, right? Would that be annoying? Or would it be ok? Lemme know!

OKAY. BANDI CHOR DIVAS.

I have to start this post by taking a trip down memory lane. Last year around this time I was all

diwalipost2012

You don’t actually have to read all of that. I just put it  there for visual effect. if you already read it…I’m sorry. I should have put this before I put that whole thing. So you would know not to read it. …

kareena

Haha it’s all good, M.

kareena1

Nah, it’s okay! They probably didn’t even read the whole thing!

kareena2

…what?

kareena3

M…what are you sayi-

kareena4

M CALM DOWN! IT’S OK! NOBODY READ IT!

kareena5

WHERE ARE WE TRAPPED??

kareena6

NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!

kareena7

shahid2

kareena8

What, Voice of Reason?

shahid4

Get on with the post.

kareena9

ok.

Ok. SO last year around Diwali time I told you guys about Diwali! I told you that it is a Hindu holiday with significance in Sikhism as well, right? WELL GUESS WHAT? IT TURNS OUT WE ACTUALLY HAVE OUR OWN HOLIDAY COMPLETELY SEPARATE FROM DIWALI, WHICH CELEBRATES WHAT I THOUGHT WE CELEBRATE DIWALI FOR. BY WE I MEAN SIKHS. DOES THIS…DOES IT MAKE SENSE? NO? LET ME EXPLAIN THEN.

Okay, so last year I told you guys that Diwali is significant for us Sikhs because one of our Gurus, Guru Hargobind Ji, was released from jail. This is him, btw:

And he didn’t leave jail just like that. There were 52 Hindu prisoners who were wrongfully imprisoned, and when Guru Ji was told he could leave, he said that he wouldn’t leave unless the 52 Hindus were also freed. Emperor Jahangir, who was the one in charge here, was basically like lol.

“this guy wants me to release everyone else, smh”

And so Jahangir said “Aight, as many prisoners can hold on to the hem of your shirt, that’s how many can go free.” And so he probably thought it would be like one or two prisoners. Buuuut Guru Har Gobind Ji had something up his sleeve (that’s almost a pun but not quite 😥 )

Let’s just say, he had a special shirt made…

And so all the prisoners who were just imprisoned for their religion were freed. And this happened right before Diwali, so thanks to Guru Hargobind Ji, all of the Hindu prisoners got to celebrate their holiday as free men. And us Sikhs, we gained a holiday ourselves, known as Bandi Chor Divas, or Day of Liberation. 

To me, this holiday is pretty special. It’s all about justice. Guru Ji was free to go and everything, and he didn’t have to risk his freedom by making demands of his own. But he did. Also, what kind of prisoner makes demands for his own release? Like, that’s pretty boss. 

Anyways, Bandi Chor Divas is this Sunday. Whether or not you celebrate it, enjoy the holiday! And remember the value of justice, and how much even just one person can make a difference. 

Happy Bandi Chor Divas 🙂

-M

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Formerly North West Frontier Province) Alternatively, Oh Snap: When You Find Out You’re Not Just Punjabi

(This post is probably going to be on the informative side, just to warn those of you who come here mainly for the hasavat. I know I said last time it would be a funny one…but imma save that for a couple of weeks!)

Remember that documentary I watched?

Okay well one of the episodes was about North West Frontier Province, and I’m like in love with that place. And I’ve blogged about it sooooooo little. And it’s so fascinating. And diverse. And beautiful. And complicated. So I’m going to blog about it. Extensively : )

As I think you guys might have been able to guess, I’m constantly interrogating asking my grandparents questions about their childhoods, their parents, and their experiences, particularly from before they came to the States. And just when I think I have a good idea of pretty much everything, one of them will mention some small (or huge) detail about their lives that throws me a complete curve ball. I actually love it 🙂

One of the most memorable times this happened was when I was casually talking to my dad’s dad and a thought occurred to me.

“Darji, you’re parent’s were born in Punjab, right?” (Punjab being the region that everyone in my family is from…or so I thought.)

“No,” he replied casually.

“…Where were they born??” I asked.

He replied, “N.W.F.P”

These four letters meant nothing to me. I didn’t know squat about them, and I had never heard of the place they referred too. Now, whenever I hear these letters, thoughts of beautiful mountains, rivers (one of which my grandpa almost drowned in as a child), kebabs, isolated tribes, Malala Yousafzai, the Taliban, and, unfortunately, increasing violence come to mind. No one ever told me we come from the land of the Pashtuns. But now that I know, I will never forget.

So first of all, what IS N.W.F.P? Well, it’s a region in current day Pakistan that borders Afghanistan.

One of the most amazing things about North West Frontier Province, or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as it was renamed in 2010, is that it. is so. diverse. At every turn you will find a new world with new people who speak new languages. One particular group of people that comes to mind is the Kalash.

source: http://photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=1784134

source: tumblr

Travel along some crazy dangerous mountain passes, and eventually you’ll reach Chitral, a region of Khyber Pakhtunkwa. In this area, the Kalash people live lives very different than those of the rest of their countrymen. Women never cover their faces (which I’m not trying to say is good or bad, just distinct), a different religion is practiced, a different language is spoken and…no one knows where they come from. Not even them lol. Some people say they are descended from Alexander the Great’s troops. But the thing is…so are a lot of Pakistanis and Indians. This would not be enough to explain their totally different culture. So really…who even knows. A lot of ethnic groups try to claim the Kalash, saying they are their ancestors. People seem to think they MUST come from somewhere else, because many of them are lighter skinned and lighter haired and have lighter eyes. But I don’t really see why that means they can’t be native Pakistanis. Many on the North Indian continent have lighter features. I think the bigger mystery is how they developed such a unique culture.

Unfortunately, the Kalash people are starting to fear the loss of their uniqueness, because of the influence of the world around them. I’m all for unity and everything, but I think it would be pretty cool if the Kalash could be all unified and stuff with the rest of Pakistan, while still maintaining their individuality, you know?

Okay. I’m going to show you more pictures now. Actually no. I show you video.

Okay. So CAN YOU BELIEVE that the Kalash are only ONE part of the amazingness that is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?? Part II is going to drop next Monday, BUT I might post a little something every couple of days until Monday about Khyber Pakhtunkwa, because there’s soo much I want you guys to see. aghhgskdljfdksl.

Okay, also, my India trip is most likely still happening this December ( :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD) and so I thought I’d go ahead and let you guys know in advance that I’m not going to be posting text posts while I’m gone (which will be late December-early January), but hopefully I’ll be able to post pictures and videos and stuff of my trip WHILE I’m actually in India! Technology man. Technology. And I’ll definitely let you guys know exactly when I’ll be gone sometime before we leave.

Okay. And I guess, other than that, sorry for the excessive use of caps in this post. Idk why that happened.

Have a beauuuuuuuutiful week,

-M : )

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