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28th of May 2020 #SarbatSocial

A heartfelt thanks to those who joined us on 28th May and shared their observations and reflections about Sikhi faith and culture. The conversations were inspired by the experiences of a few Sarbat members who are enrolled in the Harvard online course “Sikhism through the scriptures” (scroll down for more info on this). We navigated many difficult topics with passion and thoughtfulness, definitely leaving me, and I expect many others, inspired to learn more. 

I’ve rounded up some of the links that were shared on the chat so that others can benefit from these resources as well.

Issues of visibility 
One of the topics we touched on was the invisibility of Sikh women in history and today, and one of the attendees pointed us to a group called “Kaurageous” that is trying to shed light on and address issues faced by Sikh women: http://www.kaurageous.com/. I love the pun on the name and can’t wait to learn more. Follow them here: https://twitter.com/kaurageousuk for more info.

Another example that underscored the invisibility of Sikh women/non-binary folk was the Singh Project, a photography exhibition of Sikhs presented in London, UK a few years ago. While this was a fantastic attempt to bring Sikh symbols like the turban and the beard in the limelight, the scarcity of turban-wearing womxn profiled in the project was disappointing.

To counter the invisibility of women in Punjabi and Sikh discourse, this pop-fiction book “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” by Balli Kaur Jaswal was recommended by one of our attendees. Liz Robinson on LoveReading wrote, “I felt as though a door was opened, allowing more than a glimpse into the lives of these Punjabi women. I met them, grew to love them, laughed, celebrated, cried with them. The eye-opening colour and wit of the stories within the story highlight the fear and resignation they feel. With a real sense of community, yet not shying away from darker and more sinister topics, I flew through this novel on rollercoaster rails of emotion.” This review was so inspiring and exciting that I immediately already placed my order. Have you yet? Want to come together for a monthly book club with Sarbat members? Get in touch with us!

Issues of accessibility
There was also a keen discussion on how Gurbani is not accessible to non-Punjabi followers and there are very few translations to rely on. A very helpful attendee signposted us to podcasts in English produced by Nanak Naam. These may be worth exploring if you’re looking for more accessible material.
Some notable ones include:
*Japji Sahib 
*Guided Meditation
*Mental health and Wellbeing 
*Asa Di Vaar

Here are a few more links from other sources that may be helpful.
*A bit more on history: 
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sikh-history
* Sikhnet Stories for Children: 
https://www.sikhnet.com/stories 
http://www.fmradiofree.com/podcasts/sikhnet-stories-for-children

Related to above, there is a PhD Student in Vancouver who is translating the stories from the Suraj Granth which is a Granth of Sikh History which was completed just before the British took over Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom – he has a podcast called The Suraj Podcast where he tells the stories. Find the first episode here: https://soundcloud.com/surajpodcast/episode-1-intro-to-the-suraj-podcast.

Finally, this came up as an excellent book club that highlights and engages with important aspects of Sikh and Punjabi history and heritage, organised by the UK Punjab Heritage Association: http://www.ukpha.org/bookclub. Well worth listening to the past sessions as well as the forthcoming ones. 

Want to join a study group?
If you’re interested in going through the online course on Sikhism through its scriptures with a group of Sarbat members in the next few months, please get in contact with us. We’ll help to coordinate those interested to come together and also connect the new and old cohorts to encourage sharing and further discussion.

If anyone has further resources, or any comments on the resources above, we’d be glad to hear from you. Finally, we would love to receive your feedback on the #SarbatSocials, whether you have attended one or more. Have your say – tell us what we’re doing right and where we could improve: https://forms.gle/s2ZAdxewbYsd6qdz6. We’d sincerely appreciate it. 

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