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Archive for August 18, 2012

Mosaic Festival 2012: Day 2 : Gatka~The Sikh martial art.

There was a brief performance today, at the Opening Ceremony,  of  Gatka, the Sikh martial arts by, the Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Ji Gatka Akhara performers, who have come from UK to perform for the Mosaic festival 2012.

Theirs is a purely volunteer organisation,  by dedicated enthusiasts who wish to learn the art for a passion.
The currently visiting  group has 9 trained performers, ranging from ages 14-40 years.

The senior most person, is the Pehredar or the guardian, who guards the swords, and there is need to seek his permission before touching the swords.

Sikh martial art, Gatka, is a 500 year old art and is passed on from generation to generation.

Sitting with the group, in the wonderful breeze outdoors, at Celebration Square, their ustad (the leader of the group), Jaskeerth Singh, and shared interesting information about Gatka. He himself began the training at the age of five years, and at seven went in one his summer vacations went from UK to Amritsar for intense 10 week training for the art in DamDami Taksal School which teaches not just the martial art, but also the correct pronunciation of the recitation of the Holy book,  Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The Gatka tradition of a martial heritage originated, with Guru Angad Dev Ji the second Guru, who created wrestling arenas, as he wanted the Sikhs to be physically fit. However by the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s time, it had to be used in the warfare, after his father, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was tortured for a week and eventually martyred. Although the sword use was taught earlier too, but was never brought in practice.

The instruments used in the Gatka are not only the Kirpan, (the sword) and Dhaal, the shield, but for the novice, they use the Sottee, the stick. Another interesting weapon used is a circularly woven ropes called Chakri, which is designed to catch the arrows.
And it is not just a physical display of the sword, but a spiritual training too. Each of their performance begins with a detailed Ardas (supplication prayer) as follows:

Pritham Bhagauthi Simar Ke…
(Before we begin, we remember the sword).

Then follows a supplication to God, the sword, and the mention of their 11 Gurus.

This is followed by the narration of Sikh History, their sacrifices and the bravado.

I was particularly inquisitive as to why they mentioned the name of sword, along with that of the God, and not of Gurus, preceding it.

To this the Ustad Jaskeerth explained: “The sword is the giver and taker of life, like God. The concept is hard to explain, but the reverence of the sword, hence, is extremely high. “

They narrated two important stories from the Sikh history related to Gatka, and its use in warfare.

The first story is that of Baba Deep Singh Ji , during the times of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who used Gatka, in the warfare, to prevent further desecration to the Golden Temple. Prior to going into battle, Baba Deep Singh Ji promised to continue fighting until he freed the Golden Temple from the oppressors. When he came face to face with the Mughal general Jehan Khan, he was beheaded by the general. But since he had promised to go and protect the Golden Temple, he was given, the sword in his right hand, and the head in his left hand, and his started to say Ardas ( prayers), while he continued his battle towards the Temple and beheaded the Mughal general too.
“This is not a legend, but a true story which has been documented by the Mughals too.”

Second story from the history is of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, when in the Battle of Chamkaur; only 40 Sikhs were left to fight a huge army, of 125.000 men. So he deputed 5 Sikh warriors to fight them at a time, until all were defeated.

During the performance of Gatka, nowadays too, they do display this symbolically, by having one person confront many opponents.

Do they allow only Sikhs to join the Gatka group now?
“No it is open to all, from any faith or color or community. Despite being used by Sikh Gurus, to defend themselves, and their faith,” he said, “we believe in inclusivity, following the saying s of our Gurus.”

He quoted the Gurus:

“Recognise the human race as one.” Guru Gobind Singh ji.

“There is no Hindu Muslim, we are all from one God. “ Guru Nanak Dev ji.

Not just performing in local Gurudwaras, Jaskeerth Singh said he had taught Gatka in “Royal Armouries Museum too.”

I noticed they have two girls in their group.

“Back in UK, our group has almost same ratio of boys and girls.”

He quoted Guru Nanak dev ji : “Why do we call her bad, when she gives birth to the greatest of Kings in the world.”

Hence, whatever a man, can do, women can do even better.

“They perform the same acts as the boys.” He said, as the two, ladies one his wife and the other the 14 year old youngest member of the group smiled.

“There was a famous woman Sikh warrior, Mata Bhag Kaur, in the times of Guru Gobind Singh ji”, added his wife.

Today they just gave a brief display and look forward to an elaborate performance on Sunday, and want to have 3 brave volunteers from among the audience, as Jaskeerat Singh plans to perform an act blind folded. He wouldn’t share any more details, and insists,

“Please tell everyone to come on Sunday, and watch it.”
With quite a good idea of the background of this, ‘war tested’ Sikh martial art, I know, watching them perform again on Sunday would be  extremely exciting.

Hence please do come to watch them on Sunday at 4:30PM, at Celebration Square. 

For more programs see:

Mosaic Festival 2012~Day 1 : Fashion Show & Mushaira

Mosaic Fest 2012 opened up on 16th August 2012, in Mississauga Art Gallery, with a substantial poise.

Yes, it was the “Woman of Substance walk”, in partnership with Indiva,  a renowned Fashion House from Yorkville.

What was thrilling was the scintillating line of beautiful models, from among the  women who make a difference in our Community. With the same poise and grace, that they have walked on the ramp of their professional lives, did these stunning models display the ensembles they were wearing from the renowned South Asian designers like Malani Ramani, Rohit Bal, Satya Paul, Ashley Robello, to name a few, all brought to display courtesy Wendy Dias, of  INDIVA.

The models line up of distinguisghed women, merits them all to be acknowledged for their accomplishmnets:
1.Linda Thomas: Ex. Dir. of Mississauga Arts gallery, a grandmom .
2. Indira Naidoo Harris: A journalist, a former Liberal candidate.
3.Shehla Khan: Engineer,with Canadian Nuclear Industry, designed Union Station, TO, and Karachi Airport.
4. Zehra Abbas: Founder, Ex Dir of YGTA, A youth led NPO, mobilising youth for Social Justice through arts.
5. Viera Kononenkova: A financial consultant
6. Angelie Sood: Host on XM Radio, heads a NPO ‘Share your light’ for the underprevilleged children
7. Salima Syereh Virani: Editor-in-Chief of MyBindi, SA hub for arts entertainment and lifestyle.
8.Atiya Khan: An ex-model in Pakistan, and now in direction & production in Canada. Promotes Sufism.
9. Surbhi Guleria Joshi : Co-founder of a Marketting Consulting Firm
10.: Bonnie Crombie: An elected councillor, from Ward-5, a community leader.
11. Anu Vithal : an entrepreneur, and Mosaic festival Director.

A few of them walk down the isle here, without giving any clue to their not being professional models:

Talking later to Bonnie Crombie, the politician, I asked her, “How did Bonnie, the model feel, walking on the ramp?”
‘Well it was an extremely exciting experience, and an honour to be walking down the red carpet, along with other distinguished women from the Community, whose resumes and accomplishments in real lives are far more elaborate than the dresses they were displaying.” Said Bonnie almost instantly.

Show casing on the sidelines was the Artist of Mosaic 2012, Misbah Ahmed, displaying her stunning pieces of hand crafted jewellary. It was mostly crafted of porcelain, visibly painfully hand painted, each piece was a unique piece of craft.

“It looks a real hard work” I could guess.
“I haven’t slept for a week”
said Misbah, modestly.

It was hard to choose, which ones to pick for a photo  for the blog, and even harder still, which ones, not to buy. Though I went there as a blogger, but ended up becoming one her clients too.

Mosaic Musaira :
At the other side, the Amphitheatre had An Urdu-Hindi-Punjabi Mushaira, The Azadi Mushaira, by  Canadian South Asian poets. They shared their poetry, amids the da’ads ( applauds),  on diverse topis from love to peace to humour.

Some of the verses, form very few poets, that I could note down, while being engrossed in their narrations are here:

Sandeep Singh, shared his poem on ‘Aeena’ . I share a few verses of his  Hindi kavita poem):
Tasveer dikhayi deti hai ek, shaksh ki ghar Aaine mein
Thoda jana sa lagta hai, kuch pehle dekha aaine mein……..
Shuruaat mein to aksar us se, nazarein mil jaya karti thi
Koi baat chubh gayi hai meri, hai nazar churata aaine mein!
Socha ki badal daaloon nata, aise ranjeeda mehmanon se
Yeh soch makaan badal dale, par tha wahi wahan aaine mein!


Uzma Mahmood, who came to Canada from Lahore, in 1993,  also a Homeopathic doctor and mortagae agent, narrated:
Guzre huwe zamane ke hawale mein reh gaye
Ab who tamasha dekhne walon mein reh gaye.
Khamosh lab se baat ki tardeed main ne ki
Tab unke sab khwab sawalon mein reh gaye.
Itna taweel pehle na tha daur-e-intwezar
Wade naye visal ke sawalon mein reh gaye.
Karbne gaye the Alam-e-arwah ka safr
Who log jo asman waalon mein reh gaye.
Masroofiyat ne kerne ki taufeeq jab na di
Uzma who mere kaam khayalon mein reh gaye.

Poonam Jain Kaslimwal, who works at peel district School board recited her Hindi Kavita:
Rat thehri chandni munder pe
Poocha main ne, tu kaun desh se aai hai
Bata to zara kya koi sandesa laai hai
Muskurai, ithlai bole
Kyun kya hai koi us oppaar
Jo tujhe yaad kerta hai
Main ne kaha pata nahin
Per sochna bahut achha lagta hai.

Though I had gone there to blog about it, but seeing them recite, I too plunged to recite  my poem on India Pakistan peace, in my debut Mushaira.
A few of its verses are:

Nafrat ki gathri ko mein ney
Phenk diya hai gireh laga ker
Hasrat se ab khol rahi hoon
Yaadon bharey iss thailey ko
Pyaar ki taaza hawa lagaane
Aman ki roshan dhoop dikhane.

Tum bhi aao, kholo apni
Saari gaanthein, saare bull
Tum bhi apne jholey mein se
Bujhe huwe woh deep nikalo
Un yaadon ke, un baaton ke
Un qisson ke, jo itne zyada
Dohratey the jab Nana Dada
Chehre unke damka jaate the
Ankhein unki chamka detey the….

Film Festival : As part of the Film Festival for Mosaic, with a line up of some really wonderful films,  the visitors were  treated with Reload and Jab We met.

With a lot more to come on the remaining three days :

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