Happy Bandi Chhor Divas!

Bandi Chhor Divas is the day of Liberation for Sikhs. It celebrates the day Guru Hargobind Ji was released from the Gwalior Fort prison and freed 52 other Hindu princes.

Guru Hargobind Ji’s father, Guru Arjan Ji, the Fifth Guru was arrested, tortured and then executed by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir because he refused to convert to Islam. After Guru Hargobind Ji was crowned the Sixth Guru, he began to strengthen his army. This alarmed Jahangir, who then sent Wazir Khan to arrest the Guru. Wazir Khan was an admirer of the Guru and instead asked him to journey to Delhi to meet the Emperor. The Emperor met the Guru and was impressed. They soon became friends and went on hunting missions together. On one of the hunts, Guru Hargobind Ji saved the Emperor’s life by jumping in between a lion that was charging for the Emperor.

Chandu Shah, a rich banker became jealous of their friendship. When the Emperor fell sick, Chandu Shah convinced Jahangir that his illness could be cured if a holy man offered prayers to the deity at Gwalior Fort. He suggested Guru Hargobind Ji was the perfect man for the task.

Gwalior Fort held many innocent princes who were seen as prisoners of the state. The living conditions were appalling. With the help of the governor of the fort, Hari Dass, the conditions improved and the princes joined the Guru in daily prayers. It is not sure how long the Guru had been imprisoned.

Once Jahangir was fully recovered, he was reminded to release the Guru. Guru Hargobind Ji refused to leave unless the other 52 princes could leave with him. Initially, the Emperor rejected the Guru’s request but then stated that the 52 princes could only leave by holding on to the Guru’s cloak. The Guru had a cloak with 52 tails made and each prince held a tail and walked out with the Guru.

LOVE. Youth.

The way Bollywood movies demonstrated love was how I wanted to fall in love. I wanted my love to be an “us against the world” type of love. A type of love that made me want to sing through fields of sunflowers with my beloved. A type of love that seemed like the heavens above specifically made you two for each other and no one else. A type of love that transcends every rebirth your soul takes.

Growing up I was never really exposed to people actually being in love- well, not according to my definition of it. The only time I was exposed to love was from Bollywood movies. As unrealistic as those movies were, the love seemed very real.

When I was younger, no one I physically knew was in love. I didn’t see any kisses being stolen, an innocent flutter of an eye or even a hug of comfort. To me, my parents were not in love. To be honest, I’m not even sure they still are. Without the people in my immediate circle showing me what love is and how to show it, I felt lost and was on a mission to seek it for myself.

First, I fell in love with myself. My grandmother raised me and she was the first person to show me what love is. She was the one who changed my diapers, fed me, signed my agenda for school. She was the one who took me in and raised me like her own daughter. She is my mother. From her, I learned to love myself. She never treated me like I didn’t belong with her family and that made me humble. She always encouraged and supported me and that gave me more confidence. She did anything and everything for me and taught me selflessness.

Through the ages of my youth, my grandmother taught me more about myself and who I was as a person. I began figuring out what I believed in, how I dealt with conflicts, what kind of relationships I wanted with family and friends. The more I thought about these things, the more I fell in love with myself.

Happy Sikh Heritage Month!

April marks the beginning of Sikh Heritage Month in Ontario. This month recognizes the contributions Sikh people have made throughout history. This month is an opportunity to celebrate the rich history and heritage of Sikh people.

To find out more information and events, check out: http://ontariosikhheritagemonth.ca/


5 Ks of Sikhism

The 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh introduced the 5 Ks during Vaisakhi, the harvest festival. He chose this occasion to transform Sikhs into a family of soldier saints, known as Khalsa Panth.

Sikh people can transform themselves into Khalsa Sikhs by going through a special baptism, known as the Amrit Ceremony. They wear five symbols of faith that have spiritual meanings attached. These five symbols identity the Sikh’s devotion to Sikh rehni, “Sikh way of life”.

Screen shot 2015-07-22 at 11.00.08 PMA kangha is a wooden comb used to groom the hair which symbolizes cleanliness. It reminds Sikhs that their life should be organized and tidy, and represents a clean mind and body. It is worn in the hair to secure a topknot then covered by a turban.

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A kara is a metal bracelet to signify bondage to truth and freedom. It is worn on the right wrist. The metal is symbol of strength and the circle shape is a symbol of unity between the Sikh people and Sikhs and God. It is also a symbol of eternity which reflects Sikhs’ view of God who is eternal and infinite.

Screen shot 2015-07-22 at 10.59.48 PMKesh is uncut hair and an uncut beard. Traditionally Sikh people do not cut their hair and men do not cut their beards. It symbolizes your natural state as given by God. It also symbolizes the adoption of a simple life and denial in pride in anyone’s appearance. A turban is worn on top of the kesh to protect it.

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A kachera is cotton underwear to symbolize the commitment to purity and modesty. Originally it represented a Sikh solider’s willingness to be ready for battle at a moment’s notice because allowed a solider to move freely. It looks like shorts so women and men can wear it.
Screen shot 2015-07-22 at 11.01.01 PMkirpan is a sword that represents a Khalsa Sikhs duty to defend the truth. It is not to be referred to a knife or dagger because those words suggest violence. It is a symbol of bravery and faith in God. It shows the person who wears a kirpan will defend their faith and will protect the weak and oppressed. It is the duty of a Sikh to help those who suffer by whatever means available.

These five symbols unite all Sikhs and represent their commitment to the Sikh way of life.

The Power of Turmeric

Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family. It is native in southwest India and often used in many Indian dishes. In it’s powder form, it is a deep orange colour. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Not only does it have anti inflammatory effects and antioxidant agents, it has many other nutrients like, protein, fiber, vitamin c, vitamin e, potassium, calcium and more. It has been used for thousands of years because of these properties.

Turmeric in it's various forms.
Turmeric in it’s various forms.

Here are some benefits:

1. Fights cold and flu

In some cases, turmeric showed that it helped reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections. Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps strengthen the body’s immune system. Try mixing a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it daily for the days you aren’t feeling as well.

2. Heals wounds

Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as a disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process.

3. Weight loss

An ingredient in turmeric helps increase the flow of bile, an important part in the breakdown of dietary fat. By having one teaspoon of turmeric powder with every meal, you can maintain your weight by breaking down dietary fat.

4. Anti Inflammatory

Turmeric has great arthritis treating elements. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. It has been found that those suffering from arthritis, experience relief from joint pains and joint inflammation by consuming turmeric regularly.

5. Improves Digestion

Turmeric stimulate’s the gallbladder by producing more bilewhich improves digestion and reduces symptoms of bloating and gas. If you are having digestive problems, consume turmeric in it’s raw form relive it.

6. Spot Treatment

You can use turmeric as a spot treatment by mixing it with water or honey and then dabbing it on acne. The anti bacterial and anti fungal properties of turmeric will help with acne and reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Turmeric is not just used for cooking anymore. It can be used to promote a healthy lifestyle for all people. No wonder it’s known as “The Queen of Spices”!

Bhena Da Mela

Last weekend was the annual Bhena Da Mela, Fair of Sisters, which celebrated womanhood. It is a day where Punjabi females come together to dance and reacquaint themselves with their friends and relatives. Woman of all ages gather wearing their traditional clothes to sing and dance.

An overview of the Punjabi Mela which gathered over 500 people.

This year, The Hamilton Punjabi Women’s Cultural Organization and other local sponsors hosted it. There were many booths set up to showcase traditional clothing, jewelry and food venues. A few Punjabi singers also showed up to participate in the annual show.