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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Books to Read this Sikh Heritage Month






In 2013, Ontario officially recognized April as Sikh Heritage Month which brings communities together to celebrate and recognize Sikh art, heritage and culture. It also marks Vaisakhi which is a celebration of both a renewed beginning and of the creation of the Khalsa - the Sikh identity. 

Sikhs celebrate the birth of the Khalsa on April 13th and of the birth of the Sikh identity. The 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, named the The Five Beloved ones on this day in 1699. They were the first to be initiated into the Khalsa. They represent five key human characteristics: 


  • Daya - kindness
  • Himmat - courage
  • Mohkem - determination,
  • Sahib - strength 
  • Dharam - fairness. 
Vaisakhi is celebrated today as a reminder for all of us to embody these characteristics to make our world a better place. In celebration of Vaisakhi and Sikh Heritage Month, I've gathered some of my favourite books that explore themes in Vaisakhi, Sikh identity and history. 



Children's Books:
Vaisakhi , written by Deep Kaur & Illustrated by Keerat Kaur, is a colourful, easy to read book that tells the story of Daya Kaur and how her family celebrates Vaisakhi and what it means. A wonderful new addition to our family's collection this year.

You can order your own copy here






Canadian educator and author, Navjot Kaur has written these beautiful children's books that discuss Sikh Identity in A Lion's Mane, the significance of Vaisakhi as global citizens in The Garden of Peace, and a soothing lullaby told by a Sikh father to his daughter in Dreams of Hope.
She has created stories that depict Sikhs in mainstream daily life while masterfully weaving in main principles and tenants of Sikhi within the global community.  I can't recommend these books enough for every household, library and school.  On her website, Saffron Press, she explores issues around the growing need for diversity in literature and well as great resources for teachers and parents to use alongside the books.


Order your own copies here 




Poetry


Canadian Rupi Kaur is a #1 New York Times best selling author, with two works of poetry and prose, Milk & Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers.  She explores issues and themes of love, loss, trauma, healing and migration. Her poems are written in a style inspired by the Gurmukhi script, to honour her Sikh heritage, with its simplicity and visual equality of text. She explores Sikh issues such as the 1984 genocide in her poems entitled "rooh", and in her issues around female body hair in the poem "hair"(pg. 185 in Milk & Honey). Her book was the first time I saw my own name of "Kaur" reflected back at me on the shelves of a bookstore, and it brings me such pride and happiness to know that my own daughters will continue to see themselves reflected in this space.

If you don't have them yet, you can order them here and here


Fiction

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of a fragmenting Punjab and moving between Canada and India, Can you Hear the Night Bird Call? by Anita Rau Badami charts the interweaving stories of three Indian women, each in search of a resting place amid rapidly changing personal and political landscapes.  This book hauntingly begins with the first Sikh Journey to Canada with the Komagata Maru incident, (read more here) and weaves in the the political and personal turmoil during the events that unfolded during the 1984 genocide both in India and in Canada. It is one of the very few, published works that explore the events leading up to 1984 and how it affected the lives of both Sikh and Hindu, Canadian and Indian women through Rau Badami's characters.

Get it here




In Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers, the brutal drama of the 1947 Partition of India is told through the lens of two female Sikh characters who find themselves married to the same Sikh landowner.  The impact of this significant historical event on Sikhs is beautifully explored through a feminist lens in Baldwin's first novel.

Get it here

What other resources do you use to celebrate and teach Sikhi and Vaisakhi? Share in the comments!



Note: I am not a scholar of Sikh traditions, history or practices, and all views expressed here are to the best of my knowledge. Please forgive any mistakes that may have been made. Please email me through my contact page for any further discussions or clarifications to anything stated above.


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