Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why is there need to speak Mother Tongue – Punjabi?

Punjabi is also called Maan-boli (Mother-Tongue) as a child hears & hence learns ‘language’ through his/her mother. Many Sikh parents living abroad; do not stress on ‘speaking’ Punjabi though ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ is taught through Punjabi Schools; where countless sewadars (mostly mothers) do sewa on Sundays; when Gurdwara Diwaan is held. Numbers of on-line resources are available too, my favorite one is designed by Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab

It is very clear that why we need to ‘learn to read in Gurmukhi’ as our holy scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is written in Gurmukhi. Our Guru speaks to us in Gurmukhi. How can we communicate with our Guru Maharaj if we do not understand His language? Guru Sahib speaks to us through Gurbani written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. Gurbani is instruction manual of life for a Sikh. It is his/her treasure. A Sikh will be crippled without getting to this ‘treasure’ first hand and missing out on the ‘real essence’ of Gurbani. English translations do not do justice to what Gurbani wants to convey. It is diluted message every time someone tries to translate in English or any other language. ‘Writing’ helps in learning ‘reading’ of any language; so that is also part of curriculum.

But, why do we need to speak ‘Punjabi’ while we live in a society where English is main language? I would like to share my thoughts on it with you.

Jews are hardly 14-15 million but they have their own language ‘Hebrew’ and their independent country ‘Isreal’; just because they agreed on one thing that this kaum can live an honorable life only if a jew is better than others in every part of their faith. So they decided that each boy and girl of age 12, must spend two hours of his/her time on doing three things – read Jew Holy Granth(Torah), Read Jew History and learn jew’s mother tongue. I think we can learn a lot from Jew friends.

Even though answer to this question is quite personal for each Sikh family; still there are some similarities where we can see the ‘need’ to ‘speak’ Punjabi. Let us begin from ‘Names of the relations’; when we talk to our children; we tell them “beta tere masi-masar ji aaye si”, “tere bhua-phuphar ji da phone aayia see”, ‘tuhade Dada-Dada ji ne eh tohfa bhejiya hai”, “Tuhade Nana-Nani ji garmiyaan vich aange”….but if we say all this in English, every one will be Uncle-Aunti and both set of parents will be grand-parents. Why would we want to loose such a beautiful language that honors each relation in a most special manner?

Something that I realized this last weekend only; the Chinese Teams playing Field Hockey were ‘cheered’ in their own language; we did not have a slightest idea of what they were saying to figure out the ‘intent’ of the players; against whom our Punjabi children were playing. When we bagan to cheer in Punjabi, we were surprised to hear that many players did not know ‘punjabi’ not because they were Gujrati but they did not speak Punjabi at home. We have decided to make a ‘cheat-sheet’ of cheering Punjabi language and teach each and every player our language.

Punjabi has 13th place in the world’s languages. Most countries provide with ‘interpreters/ translators’ for those who can’t read their country’s language. Grants are provided to various ethnic groups/communities for the development of their respective languages; then why should we not feel proud to learn our mother tongue ‘Punjabi’?

Here are some tips that worked for us to get our children in ‘Punjabi-speaking’ mode:

1. If you have only one child, just speak Punjabi at home, it will work even after child begins school.
2. If more than one children, they will probably tend to speak English with each other once they are in school and that becomes their primary language and you have no control on that. During all that Punjabi slowly diminishes. Be persistent to speak Punjabi yourself and encourage them to answer you back in Punjabi. Polite reminders/awards work almost always.
3. Have them read 'Saakhies' in Punjabi on regular basis or read to them if they are under 5.
4. Have your children learn to read/write Punjabi too at the same pace as they are learning other languages at school.
5. If you had missed the boat already & your child has forgotten what he/she learnt while still at home, don't be alarmed. He/she still absorbed the Punjabi vocabulary from your conversations. Set goals and awards to have him/her started on Punjabi again.
6. Vacations and visits with Punjabi speaking friends and relatives in India help a whole lot.
7. Watch together Alpha ETC Punjabi channel, ask them what they understood & explain if they did not. This is the fastest method of creating Punjabi atmosphere (caution: keep your remote handy to switch the channel when inappropriate stuff pops up)

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Har Maidaan Fateh

Children of Khalsa; The Surfers; played ‘California Cup 2006’ 3-day tournament during long weekend of Memorial Day. Moorpark College ;home of the 35th annual California Cup Field Hockey Tournament was especially pleasant with many colorful turbans, patkas amongst the most diverse environment. This is once a year event where so many Sikhs come together to play. Only other places where we see them together is at Gurdwaras or Gurpurb celebrations on large scale. It's just a fun event. Teams from Canada, China and all over the world come here to play. Every year we look forward to the Cal Cup. Young ‘Surfers’; beginning age 5 to 16; all played enthusiastically.

Though all other teams had hard luck; our U9 mixed won Silver Medal beating Ch inese Taipei who is known to be the ‘toughest’ to win.

‘Maidaan’ here was not battlefield but hockey grounds of Moorpark College and children had their ‘honsle bulland’ in spite of hard games that they played. Almost all families drove 150 miles a day while waking up in Amrit Vela and driving the young players to the Cal Cup; returning home at 7-9 pm daily. Hats off to doting Dads for their dedication!! The youngest player of Surfers team was a little girl, Mannat Kaur, who is barely 5 yr old. It was so funny to see her mom yelling loud; “Mannat hun saada paasa oudhar nu hai; ball os paase lai ke jaani aa”. Seerat(6) and Harjap Kaur (7) ran a lot; though barely having any clue who to pass or when to stop the ball. It was hilarious to see them ‘dancing’ after each goal they scored. Their play-time was bungee-jumping! Hockey was just a side chore. Thou gh it was a team effort, but I honestly believe that the silver medal belongs to Gurbir Singh (8); who played like a professionally trained player. I can see him following foot steps of Daraspreet Singh Kainth Besides him; the other Sikh children who made to Men's National Squad from Surfers are Koijan Kainth, Daljeet Sagoo, Arjan Reyatt and Amrit Ahluwalia. Information:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mothering by Heart

Our destiny is inevitable with an element of choice, mixed up also by past and present KARAM. Shortly after conception, the life begins with the five elements as embryo and the intricate body parts and organs are formed. Infused with the soul, this vulnerable life is nourished and protected from the heat of the womb; all the while the unborn meditates. The life thrives hanging upside down indeed –the position of the fetus in the last days of delivery. In the womb the creation survives by meditating upon the Creator’s name, with every breath. Finally one is born and eventually forgets ones origin and becomes engrossed with the material world. After leaving the womb, one interacts and attaches with the conscious world and forgets God. Growing up is certainly not easy, especially when reincarnation and transmigration hovers just around the corner unless one meditates upon the name of the Param-Aatma (Naam Simran). NAAM SIMRAN is a purely spiritual experience within reach of all humanity irrespective of race creed on social status to attain forgiveness and salvation. Success varies and depends on the practitioner’s earnestness as well as the Guru’s grace. Changing times present new challenges to our youth, nevertheless the basic principles of Sikhism help them build inner-strength when they do hit the rough patch in their lives.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Maajh on Pannaa 137 of Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji explains the 'Life Cycle' of human life like this
mÚ 1 ]

pihlY ipAwir lgw Qx duiD ]
dUjY mwie bwp kI suiD ]
qIjY BXw BwBI byb]

cauQY ipAwir aupMnI Kyf ]
pMjvY Kwx pIAx kI Dwqu ]iCvY kwmu n puCY jwiq ]
sqvY sMij kIAw Gr vwsu ]
ATvY k®oDu hoAw qn nwsu ]
nwvY Dauly auBy swh ]
dsvY dDw hoAw suAwh ]
gey isgIq pukwrI Dwh ]
auifAw hMsu dswey rwh ]
AwieAw gieAw muieAw nwau ]
ipCY pqil sidhu kwv ]
nwnk mnmuiK AMDu ipAwru ]
bwJu gurU fubw sMswru ]2]

First Mehla:First, the baby loves mother's milk;second, he learns of his mother and father;third, his brothers, sisters-in-law and sisters;fourth, the love of play awakens.Fifth, he runs after food and drink;sixth, in his sexual desire, he does not respect social customs.Seventh, he gathers wealth and dwells in his house;eighth, he becomes angry, and his body is consumed.Ninth, he turns grey, and his breathing becomes labored;tenth, he is cremated, and turns to ashes.His companions send him off, crying out and lamenting.The swan of the soul takes flight, and asks which way to go.He came and he went, and now, even his name has died.After he left, food was offered on leaves, and the birds were called to come and eat.O Nanak, the self-willed manmukhs love the darkness.Without the Guru, the world is drowning. 2

So it is utmost important for the Sikh parents to instill in their children the love for Sikhi. This journey starts from the day a young girl marries a Singh and starts her family life. Here is the small poem I wrote for my son, who soon is going to step into 'challenging world' of Junior High.

Dear son of Khalsa
In your strength our future lies!

May you continue to possess fearless mind
To see the world through Guru Ji’s eyes!

May you continue to inspire and serve others
by becoming Noble, fearless and Chardee Kalaa Khalsa

Live up to the standards of countless Martyrs
Who spilled blood and laid down their head for the Khalsa

Oh son of the Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Continue to remain Distinct and in Ever-Existence!