Category Archives: History

The Sheesh Mahal

I cry a lot. I’m a tear machine. When I’m sad, happy, angry, hungry. It’s a nuicance to my family. In India, I cried when I got my first glimpse of Pakistan, probably when I saw the mustard fields, in Amritsar, idk, like every other day. I’m telling you this so that you see me as an emotional artist, obviously. But also to add emphasis to the fact that, among all of this sobbing,  there’s only been one time in my entire life I’ve cried because something was just so beautiful.

Most of my trip to India was in and around Panjab, but we made a day trip to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. The Taj Mahal was the most beautiful man made thing I’ve ever seen. On our way to Agra Fort after seeing the Taj Mahal, I was pretty certain that Agra Fort would not come anywhere near as amazing as the Taj Mahal. I was really wrong. Agra Fort was beautiful and huge. Our tour guide was beautiful too, but he quickly child-zoned me when he happily told my family I could get in for cheaper because “she is looking under 15.” I received the message, we moved on.

BUT OKAY. AGRA FORT. So beautiful. We were chilling in this freaking ancient Mughal fort that actual Akbar lived in. Then our tour guide was like, it’s to bad I can’t show you Noor Jahan’s bathroom, it’s exclusive. And we were like, yeah, darn, no toilet for us LOL. Or at least I was. But the rest of my crew was like, no, we should totes pay extra to see this, and I was like aight, I’ll go with the flow. I only really started getting really interested when we started going to a part of the fort that was below everything else, where we were the only ones, and our guide started speaking in whispers. The sun was setting, and it was already breathtaking. We weren’t even at the toilet yet.

So we go inside this little area, and it’s dark. Like pitch dark, and I’m with my grandparents, so I’m trying to make sure no one falls, you know?  I’m in a dark old bathroom with my grandparents and nothing is luxurious at this point. Until I start realizing that this “bathroom” is huge, and no one else is around except my family. And child-zoning man. Who had seen us all trip multiple embarassing times all up and down that fort at this point, so was basically family too. The thing is, it was pitch dark. It was called Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), because it was supposed to be decorated with a lot of mirrors. BUT IT WAS DARK. WE COULDN’T SEE ANYTHING. 

However, our guide soon walked over to a corner of the bathroom, and held a lit match close to the wall, and told us all to look up. I looked up, and was confused. Remember how, when we went in the Sheesh Mahal, the sun was setting? Well, it seemed night had fallen, as I looked up and wondered why Noor Jahan was okay with a bathroom without a roof, because all I saw when the tour guide lit the match was a star-filled night sky. It took me maybe 30 seconds of staring at the twinkling stars before the tears came, because that’s how long it took me to realize we weren’t looking at the sky.

We were looking at the roof of the Sheesh Mahal.

It was covered in tiny mirrors, that were all reflecting the flickering flame that child-zoner was holding in the corner, so that each one was reflecting the flame. Each reflection looked like a twinkiling star.
 

 

 

I’m just so moved, to this day, by the fact that I actually thought I was looking at the sky, like actually, without a doubt. I didn’t look up and wonder, “Huh. Is that the roof or the sky?” I looked up and instantly assumed it was the sky. When we see amazing artwork, we say, “Wow, it looks so real.” YOU JUST DON’T GO UP TO THE MONA LISA AND START ASKING THE LADY WHY SHE’S SITTING SO STILL. NO OFFENSE LEO. We’re never actually fooled into believing we’re looking at, like, real, natural objects, that we just happened upon. At least, I had never been. Not until this amazing, winter’s night in Agra ❤

 

When we came out of the Sheesh Mahal, the sun had almost set, and there were NO TOURISTS LEFT IN THAT PART OF THE FORT. It was just me and my blood, walking around a fort built in the 11th century,  where the Koh-i-Noor was taken by the Mughals, where Jodha and Akbar lived in inter-religious harmony, and, as Wikipedia describes it, is more of a walled city. I couldn’t believe we were all alone in that place, which I later learned is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. I unthinkingly made the decision not to take any pictures, so that I could be 100% in that once in a lifetime moment, and I don’t regret it. The picture above, which my bro took, is beautiful, but I’m sure it goes without saying that that moment could have never truly been captured, you know? You have to make the decision–do you want understating photographs to look at afterwards, or do you want a fuller memory? Is this offensive? To photo-takers? I hope not. I take a lot of pics too, don’t get me wrong. I guess, for me, it’s just about finding a balance. That being said, I’m so glad my brother took a picture of the roof. 

 

Also we had two dinners that night, it was magical. 

 

Aight, reader, imma wrap this up. Have a great night/day.

And if you’re ever in Agra, make sure to drop by the Sheesh Mahal at sunset : )

 

-M

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1984

Guys. I live in North Carolina, right? The most Panjabi thing here is…me. We RARELY get Panjabi movies down here on dvd. We don’t even have Disco Singh yet. BUT TOMORROW. GUESS WHO’S DRIVING (5 hours) TO GO SEE 1984…IN AN ACTUAL THEATER????

 

YA GIRL. YA GIRL AND HER MOM. :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

 

That’s right. Diljit’s new movie 1984 is playing a few towns over, and me and my momma, who has become a huge Diljit fan, btw, are going to go see it. I can’t believe we’re actually able to see a Panjabi movie in theaters. AHHHHHHHHHH.

Okay, so real quick, 1984 is a film based on the true events of the Sikh genocide of the 1980s and 90s. Thousands of Sikhs were killed, robbed, and raped during this time, mainly at the hands of the Indian government. For the past 30 years, we’ve been silenced about it. At the time, India banned foreign journalists from entering the country, to prevent the rest of the world from seeing the atrocities India was committing. Even today, Sikhs are denied visas into India for speaking up about the genocide. Only recently has there been some aknowlegement of what happened to us at the time, while we have been reeling from it for decades. The fact that movies like this one are starting to come out is huge. It’s long past time for our story to be told.

So if you live in a random place like me, hope is not lost! If there’s a showing near me, there’s definetly a possiblity there’s one near you too. I encourage EVERYONE to go see it, Sikh or not, Panjabi or not, brown or not.

To see if it’s available near you:

http://www.fandango.com/punjab1984_174015/movieoverview

 

-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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Gandhi tho :/

Ya girl ain’t got a whole lot of love for “the father of India.”

 

 

I’ve had this post in mind for a long time, literally years, but I know a lot of people look up to Gandhi, and if you’re one of those people, reading this won’t be that fun of a time. But so much about Gandhi that really irks me is never talked about, and I feel like it really should be. So here goes.

For one thing, he was racist.

Which makes it particularly annoying when people compare him to Nelson Mandela.

Gandhi regularly used the term “Kaffirs” when referring to black people, which is essentially as disrespectful as using the n-word. Additionally, on the status of Indians in South Africa, he is quoted as saying,”the Indian is being dragged down to the position of the raw Kaffir(…)whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a number of cattle to buy a wife, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.” Also, “We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized — the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals.”

…..

……..

so….yeah. There’s that.

And I know a lot of people society tends to look up to are nowhere near perfect, but for someone put on SUCH an incredibly high pedestal, we certainly don’t talk about how racist Gandhi was enough. Like, it’s not like he committed arson as a kid, or had a drug addiction, or anything like that. He had a deep-seated, inexpiable hatred of black people. This wasn’t a mistake he made, or anything in the realm of things that could be forgiven, you know? Like Michael Jackson. Did he get plastic surgery? Yeah. Did he get more than he admitted? It’s possible. But does that discredit everything he did? Not at all. But Gandhi is known for his advocacy of nonviolence, which implies an appreciation for life. And so his racism is in complete contradiction of what he stands for in society’s eyes.

 

 

 

And the second reason I don’t look up to Gandhi is because of his view of Sikhs.

 

If you look, you can find positive statements Gandhi made about Sikhs. However, many people of prominence during Gandhi’s time were making positive statements about Sikhs, because, like how Muslims were given Pakistan when the British left India, the Sikhs were very close to being given their own state, Khalistan. Seeing this, and fearing the loss of land, Indian officials spoke favorably of Sikhs, to convince them that they did not need Khalistan. Promises were made to Sikhs, and ultimately, we decided we did not need a Khalistan. However, after we turned down the offer and decided to stay in India, the promises made to us were broken. You can gather Gandhi’s true opinion of Sikhs in statements he made more privately–

 

For one thing, he tried to devalue the Sikh identity–

“I read your Granth Sahib. But I do not do so to please you. Nor shall I seek your permission to do so. But the Guru has not said anywhere that you must grow your beards, carry kirpans (swords) and so on”

It is very clear to Sikhs that we have been commanded to maintain our identity, which includes unshorn hair and carrying kirpans. Like, we have a whole holiday dedicated to the anniversary of the day that our prophet made this commandment. If Gandhi felt that we do so unnecessarily, fine. That’s not what bothers me so much. It’s his almost hostile tone in the above quote that really gets me, when he feels the need to state he read the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, but not to please Sikhs. Like why you gotta add that last part? C’mon. Gandhi has also been recorded as saying that he does not acknowledge Sikhism as a religion. Which, as a Sikh myself, is pretty insulting. The man who people refer to as the father of India did not acknowledge Sikhs. He would not have acknowledge me.

I think Sikhs in general don’t have a whole lot of love for Gandhi, given the above paragraph. Growing up, I was never taught about Gandhi by adults in my community. The only thing I ever heard about him was that he called Sikhism’s 10th prophet a mountain rat. I haven’t been able to find this quote, but I wouldn’t really be surprised if I did.

 

I did learn about Shaheed Bhagat Singh, though. He was an atheist who was born into a Sikh family. Like Gandhi, he was pro-independence, and he made contributions to the independence movement. He even fasted in protest of the British government, just like Gandhi did. But it seems no one remembers Shaheed Bhagat Singh, at least not to the extent that they remember Gandhi. Shaheed Bhagat Singh was eventually killed in his fight for independence, and yet he is not seen the way Gandhi is seen, not by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe it’s because he was not against the use of violence, the way Gandhi was. Or maybe it’s because of his family line linking him to Sikhism, and what people like Gandhi have done to make sure that people in this category are seen in a different light in India.

 

 

So…I didn’t write this post to offend anyone. I just wanted to offer a fuller picture of Gandhi’s beliefs to those who might not know about all of them. Whether or not this has changed your view of him, if you ever come across someone who does not appreciate Gandhi as much as most people seem to, perhaps you will have a little more understanding as to where he/she is coming from.

Thoughts?

-M

 

 

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The Moonlit Market

In Old Delhi, there is a market. In this market, anything can happen.

chandnichowk1

Cricket victories can be celebrated.

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Muslim kids and Hindu kids can be BFFs.

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Shaadis are finalized!

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Rich people get afraid for their safety!

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Bhangra happens in the middle of the street!

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Shah Rukh Khan can pass through and enjoy the dancing!

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And trip!

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Rich people can realize they were right to be afraid!

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More Bhangra!

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Partays!!

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And if you run fast enough…

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You can suddenly be in Egypt.

M…you know that’s all from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, right?

Yeah, so?

That movie is fictional…

Umm no, Voice of Reason. Kabhi Khushi Khabhi Gham is for real.

It’s really no–

k3g

…I think we know who won here.

Along with everything, Chandni Chowk is cool for a bunch of other reasons!

First of all, it means “Moonlit Market.” I mean if that’s not a cool enough meaning, it’s literally a rhetorical device as well. If I ever made a market, I would be lucky if it even had a name, much less a name that is an alliteration! Like really! Does it not sound like something out of Aladdin??

Pretty much Chandni Chowk

And okay. Get this. It was established in 1650. And it’s still functioning! That’s amazing! It’s like antique that still works perfectly! Emperor Shahjahan’s daughter, Princess Jahanara, designed it.

I think one of my favorite things about Chandni Chowk is the places of worship in it. It has masjids (mosques), Hindu temples/mandirs (are temples and mandirs the same thing? I’m not sure…), a church, and a gurdwara. So Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs all come to Chandni Chowk to pray ❤

File:Sunehri Masjid in Delhi.jpg

Sunehri Masjid (Mosque)

File:Fatehpuri Masjid.jpg

Sunehri Masjid

File:Fatehpuri Masjid.jpg

Fatehpuri Masjid

Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir

Gauri Shankar Mandir

Christian Central Church

Gurdwara Sis Ganj 

Gurdwara Sis Ganj is actually one of the gurdwaras I’ll be visiting while in India. I think I mentioned this before, but it is where our 9th prophet was beheaded. I can’t believe I’m actually going to be at that place…

I don’t know how keen my grandparents will be on going to the shopping area of Chandni Chowk, but hopefully I’ll be able to convince someone to take me there! We’re going to be, like, right there. How can we not?! If no one wants to take me…I might have to slip away for a liiiiiiiiiitlee excursion when no one’s looking……..jk…….not really………jk………..or am i who knows

Alright guys, that’s all I got this week. In about 30 hours, imma be on a plane on my way to the mother land. It’s actually happening you guys. 🙂 Posts  will still drop on time during the coming Mondays, but I won’t be able to approve comments, unless I have wifi wherever I am. Also, just want to say that writing on here has been such a big part of me falling in love with South Asia. All of your questions and comments and likes and views have made it that more special. I’m so glad I’m going to get to share my first visit with you guys 🙂

Till next time,

M 🙂

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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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Stuff You Didn’t Know About The Golden Temple

 (or maybe you did, idk. I don’t know you. I don’t know what you do or don’t know. But I mean there’s probably a fact or two in here you don’t know so I would  just stay on the safe side and read it ; )

So I started watching this documentary on Netflix called Himalaya where BBC’s Michael Palin goes all over South Asia saying wonderfully British and sometimes wonderfully corny things about all the places he visits.

It’s the greatest thing.

Anyways, at one point, he visits Harmandar Sahib, or the Golden Temple.

Golden Temple, Amritsar 2013-05-21 01-35.jpg

This is the most well-known gurdwara, or place of worship, for Sikhs, but it’s also amazing from a secular viewpoint. And as I was watching the documentary, I realized I’ve never really told you guys why the Golden Temple is so great. Let me go ahead and…I’m going to…that’s what I’m going to do now…

*Ahem*

REASONS WHY HARMANDAR SAHIB IS DA BOMB (NOT LITERALLY OK LET’S JUST NOT EVEN GO THERE)

1) Everyone is welcome.

Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, atheists, white people, black people, brown people, all the people! This might not sound so unique in 2013, but the kicker is that it’s been this way since its founding in 1604. Like a lot of places, India is a place where discrimination based on religion,etc. has been somewhat prominent in its history. But in 1604, the Golden temple was one of the only places to be blind to trivial bhaqwaas. (Yes, I changed my spelling of backwass to this classier looking version I saw Zayn Malik tweet, idk which one I like better yet.)

2) Free food for anyone who wants it.

Harmandar Sahib’s kitchen is run by volunteers–doctors work alongside rickshaw drivers to provide free meals to the tens of thousands of people who show up there everyday.

source: http://banwait.tumblr.com

If you want to see this in action:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/video/Kitchen-of-the-Golden-Temple.html#ooid=NkbWhkMjqqiVQdKhUlG3FjYYh2z70DTS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRwQ7n9431s

3) Including freaking Akbar. 

At one point, Mughal Emperor Akbar visited the gurdwara, and sat on the ground alongside all of the other visitors. 

4) Four doors. (I did not make this one #4 on purpose omg)

There are four doors into the Golden Temple, symbolizing that it is open to everyone in every direction. Including One Direction. 

“Thanks for looking out, Guru Ji mate!”

M why has One Direction been mentioned twice in your post about the Golden Temple. I’m just curious.

Voice of Reason don’t be so judgmental ok. This is a post about the Harmandar Sahib so why you gotta be like that?

BUT THAT’S WHAT I’M SAYI–

5) Solar energy

In a country not exactly known for its environmental awareness, Harmandar Sahib plans to switch to (if they haven’t already, I’m still trying to find out) solar-powered cooking facilities. 

6) Also, steel plates.

I just really have  thing for steel plates idk. Just something about them not going in a landfill really gets me going. But yeah, Harmandar Sahib has those 🙂

7) It’s beautiful, inside and out.

golden temple inside carvings 466x700

golden temple inside people 550x366

source: travelindia123

source: sikhwallpapers

source: blogabond

8) It’s surrounded by the Amrit Sarovar (the water), which, paired with the white stone ground, gives the entire complex a peaceful, heaven on earth feeling (not that I’ve actually been there to really know but hey. I’ve heard ok??)

source:http://linnietraveler.tumblr.com

source:http://lakeside-amusement-park.tumblr.com

source: http://yeh-hai-meri-kahaani.tumblr.com

http://crushabledotcom.tumblr.com/

…M?

…Um. M??

….HELLO?!?!?

Sorry! It’s just so beautiful that it hypnotizes me okay?

So yeah. That’s Harmandar Sahib. Writing this felt like describing some prized possession or something, that is so nice I can’t actually believe it’s mine. But the thing is, Harmandar Sahib isn’t only mine. It’s yours too.

As you guys know, I haven’t visited it yet. But from what I’ve heard, it’s an out of body experience. My grandma remembers visiting it, and tells me that she felt like she was actually in heaven when she saw it. I can’t wait for that feeling, and I can’t wait to tell you guys about it : ) If you’ve been to Harmandar Sahib, let me know what it was like! Same if you haven’t–I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

Have an amazing week guys! : )

-M

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My Top 4 Gurdwaras To Visit

1) The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib):

Amritsar Golden Temple 3.JPG

Amritsar, India. This is sort of a Sikh’s #1 spot. The history behind it is pretty awesome too. From Wikipedia:

“Originally built in 1574, the site of the Gurdwara was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. Mughal Emperor Akbar, who visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das, in the neighbouring town of Goindval, was so impressed by the way of life in the town that he gave a jagir (the land and the revenues of several villages in the vicinity) to the Guru’s daughter Bhani as a gift on her marriage to Bhai Jetha, who later became the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das ji. Guru Ram Das enlarged the lake and built a small township around it. The town was named after Guru Ram Das as Guru Ka Chak’, Chak Ram Das or Ram Das Pura.”

This gurdwara is also pretty important, because it’s where Indira Ghandhi sent troops to eradicate a Sikh Khalistani advocate. Politics aside here, the fact that thousands of Sikh civilians died at Harmandir Sahib when this happens is sort of a big deal. Since so many Sikhs were martyred at this spot, I feel like I should visit it.

2) Nanakana Sahib:

Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. This gurdwara is in the city that Guru Nanak Dev Ji– the founder of the Sikh religion– was born. Guru Nanak Dev Ji is important to Sikhs, for obvious reasons, but is also highly respected by Hindus and Muslims as well. I’d love to visit his birthplace.

3) Gurdwara Panja Sahib:

Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.

Okay. So this Gurdwara. Let me just tell you.

A local saint, Shah Wali Qandhari, was annoyed at Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Bhai Mardana Ji, because they had started Sikh prayer, and a congregation was growing in front of them . So Shah Wali Quandhari pushed this massive rock down a hill towards the entire congregation. And this was a huge rock that could do some serious damage. But it was all good, because Guru Nanak Dev Ji stopped it. With his hand.

File:PunjaSahib.jpg

Of course this is a story, and know one knows if it’s true. But you want to know a secret?

I believe it.

And lastly…

4) Gurdwara Karte Parwan

File:KABUL Gurdwara Karte Parwan IMG 0619.JPG

Kabul, Afghanistan.

Back in the day (pre 1979), there were tens of thousands of Sikhs in Afghanistan. I find this particularly awesome, because many Sikhs (possibly including myself) are of Afghan descent. Also, I love Afghan culture, from what I’ve seen of it, and the fact that there were Afghan Sikhs actually living there was really cool. But unfortunately, after all of the wars in Afghanistan, there are only 3,000 Sikhs remaining in the country. Conditions in Afghanistan got really bad, and for many people,the best option was to leave. But anyways, for the Sikhs who remain, life is pretty tough. It’s tough in Afghanistan for many of the people there, but being religious minorities does not help. This gurdwara, and the others that remain, have seen so much suffering. The fact that they are still standing, and that Sikhs still go to them, is really kind of amazing. I have so much respect for those Sikhs, who still go to their gurdwara despite all that they’ve been through. Their resilience is astounding. 

Aight guys, that pretty much wraps up my list of fave gurdwaras. There’s a bunch more, and they all have a story. I definitely want to visit as many as I can.

I know posts have been short, but school’s really amping up the intensity here now that I’m less than a month away from summer break. As soon as things slow down a little bit, I’ll be able to put more time into my posts again. And edit them better:/ Thanks for bearing with me here, and good luck with any exams you have coming up also!

Stay fresh, 

-M

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Idk How This Happened…But Here’s a Post About the Taliban!

What’s cookin’ good lookin’??

Before we get going here, let’s talk about Malala Yousafzai. She’s back in school.

Now 15 years old, Malala is out of the hospital and back where she belongs: in school 🙂 You can check out a video of her talking about going back to school here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/mar/19/malala-yousafzai-back-school-video

Listening to her speak, she sounds so glad to be back in school, as well as very articulate. I’m so happy that she recovered so well, and that she’s able to be learning again 🙂

Also, Malala is currently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Now when I first heard about Malala, I thought about other girls in her situation– living close to the Taliban, and going to school despite the risk. There are many girls in this type of environment in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. I wondered how they felt about this: were they upset that someone else had been recognized for showing bravery, and they themselves were not? Despite having the same bravery? But then I thought about Balpreet Kaur. A few months ago, an image of the Sikh women with facial hair went viral, and she responded to the plentiful insults she received with grace and forgiveness. Then, people recognized her as a strong, brave women. Although it was Balpreet who was shown, there are many Sikh women who face the same types of negative comments everyday. To a small extent, I’ve faced them myself. But instead of being upset that it wasn’t my personal struggles that were recognized, I was proud that someone who represented my religion and my culture had been recognized for her strength, and every positive comment towards Balpreet Kaur felt like a positive comment towards me and my religion. So that’s how I realized that girls going through what Malala endured probably aren’t upset that it’s not them in the spotlight, because it is them. Malala being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize is a nomination for all of the girls going to school in Taliban-heavy areas. If she wins, they all will win.

Okay scratch my original post idea. We’re staying on this topic. Buckle-up, it’s about to get unplanned up in hee yuh.

Let’s talk about where Malala lived in Pakistan.

Malala lived in Swat Valley, which is an area in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa* district of Pakistan. This area borders Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as well as Afghanistan. When many people think of the Taliban, they just think  of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban are prominent in some areas of Pakistan, such as Swat Valley. I don’t know a whole bunch about the Taliban in Pakistan, but I know that during their prime in Afghanistan, they had banned television, music, women from laughing, and women from being outside without a male relative. Basically, the Taliban grew up in acutely impoverished areas, many of them in Pakistan, and were educated with the strictest interpretation of Islam. They’re pretty much the number one example of the damage that can be done by an inadequate education and poverty. And so they took Afghanistan in 1997. At first, Afghan people were cautiously happy, because it seemed finally they wouldn’t be governed by an invader, such as Russia. However, the Afghan people soon realized that the Taliban was terrible news, and oppressed the country like it had never been oppressed before, under any ruler. In an interview with John Stewart, Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi was asked why the Afghan public wasn’t able to eradicate the Taliban as they had done with the Russians and other nations. Koofi responded by stating that the people of Afghanistan couldn’t rise up, because the Taliban created an environment in which they couldn’t even breathe. Soccer stadiums were turned into public execution arenas, where women who were raped would be stoned to death for “committing adultery.” Orphanages became full to bursting. Whoever could leave the country did. Whoever couldn’t tried their best to survive. The Taliban of Afghanistan crumbled in 2001 following attacks from the U.S, but the scars of the Taliban’s rule remain deep, and the country continues to bleed. I don’t know what it was like in Pakistan, but that was what Afghanistan went through under the Taliban.

Anyways, back to Malala. In the city she lived in in Swat, called Mingora, the Taliban had closed all girls schools at the beginning of 2009. In solidarity, the all-boys schools in the area voluntarily closed their doors for a short time. Gosh. That’s so beautiful, but really sad. No one wanted the girls’ schools to be closed, but there was nothing they could do but silently express their sorrow. After awhile, though, Malala’s school reopened, and she was continuing her studies when one day, the Taliban carried our their plan of shooting her. So begins her journey for survival that has won the world over.

Basically, the Taliban have ruined many lives. Women are in prison right now for fleeing abusive husbands. Children are beaten in the streets. And it’s down to the Taliban. But know this– the Taliban do not represent the population of Afghanistan or Pakistan. These men are from remote areas of the countries, and have very limited education. In the chaos during the Afghan Civil War, they were able to take power. Afghanistan had been a quickly developing country. For example, women were prominent in all areas of the work force, and no one strictly limited their dress. But once the Taliban took hold, the country went back 100+ years in time to a  way of life that was familiar only to the Taliban, who had grown up in poverty.

Despite this, know also that not everyone that called themselves Taliban were bad. Imagine the Taliban takes hold of your city. They shut down your business, your wife is no longer able to work, and your daughters are forced to quit their education. Your only choice of employment is with the Taliban. The other option is letting your family starve, and so you join. Many of men in these situations took jobs as local Taliban, and did what they could to help their communities.

The Taliban lost their stronghold in Afghanistan in 2001. However, questions are being raised as to whether the U.S’s pulling out of the country will allow the Taliban to take hold once more. My hopes are that the U.S will keep a close eye on what’s going on in the country, so that the Taliban knows that they have no hope of taking power. The people of Afghanistan have seen nothing but war for decades, and it’s time for them to have peace and rebuild themselves.

 

Anyways, I don’t know how exactly this turned into a post about the Taliban, but here we are, 1100 words in and counting. I have an English project to finish, and you probably have something you’re putting off as well, so I say we call it a night and meet back here next Sunday?

Goodnight/morning/afternoon!

-M

*Self-absorbed little side-note here, two of my grandparents’ parents were actually from the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. Lived there and everything. I find this super cool, because the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwa are typically of Pashtun ethnicity, and I LOVE Pashtun culture 🙂

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