Fauja Singh to Run His Last Marathon At Age of 101

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We love Sardar Fauja Singh.  We really, really do.

On Sunday, Fauja Singh will run his final race in Hong Kong at the tender age of 101.  Jezebel recently covered Fauja Singh in a piece about  women’s rights, and just today Jordan Conn wrote a compendious and inspiring article for Outside The Lines on ESPN about Fauja Singh’s life and the “missing” Guinness Book of World Records title.  This article, along with stunning photographs, spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter today – reminding us just how much the world loves Fauja Singh and what he represents.

On the first day of training, Fauja arrived limber and energetic and dressed, as he believed was perfectly appropriate, in a dazzling three-piece suit. Harmander told him he needed a wardrobe change. After adamant protests, Fauja relented, ditched the suit and bought running gear. He showed up every day after that, building his routine around his training schedule. His mileage increased as the weeks passed. Race day arrived. After 6 hours and 54 minutes, 4:48 behind winner Antonio Pinto, Fauja crossed the finish line. At age 89, he was a marathoner. Soon, he would be a star.

We will be wishing you well on Sunday, Fauja Ji!  Thank you for continuing to be such an activist and a positive soul and for reminding us of the importance of health and happiness.

– The Langar Hall

 


Fauja Singh – 100 years and runnin’

With Bhangras and Jakaras – our very own beloved Fauja Singh crossed the finish line to be the first 100 year old to complete a marathon – thus also setting a world record. Running in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, he may have been last in the pack – but he finished first in the hearts of all. Many of us were following our Torontonian brothers and sisters live tweet as #faujasingh as it began trending in Toronto and through all of Canada.

Here he is crossing the finishing line!

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Will the centenarian hang up his Adidas shoes now that he has set this record? HARDLY! Next up – for us Californians, we get the chance to meet him at the upcoming SikhLens Film Festival in Southern California from November 18-20, 2011. Then back to the world stage for Fauja Singh as he will be part of the torchbearer relay for the 2012 London Olympics. Keep on running Fauja! #faujafever


Fauja Singh Turns 99

A true Sikh hero, Fauja Singh, turned 99 last Thursday.fauja_singh_99.jpg

Turbaned Tornado, Fauja Singh turns 99 on Thursday. Heres wishing this Punjabi icon who manages running marathons at an age not many reach, many happy returns of the day. Besides other gifts that hed be receiving on his birthday on April 1, this real life Forest Gump is all set to give himself a present by setting yet another marathon record at the ripe age of 99. I can only sleep, run or walk. Ill die the day I sit down, the young nonagenarian had told this scribe in an interview in 2005 on the streets of Ilford, Essex, UK, where he has been living along with his son Sukhjinder Singh since the 1980s. He shifted to UK after having lost his wife and younger son in quick succession in Punjab. [TOI]

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An interview with Fauja Singh

I found this interview with the revered Fauji Singh ji, after completing the Edinburgh daur- a mere chabi (26) miles to be so endearing.

He has a message for the nau-jawan and at the end (it kind of got cut off, but he seems happy that the nau-jawan, both boys and girls, are running these days)…

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Year in Review: The Best and Worst Sikh Moments of 2013

The Best:

  1. Bhai Gurbaksh Singh went on a hunger strike for 44 days which led to the release of 4 political prisoners and increased international attention on human rights in India. We were all deeply moved and inspired, and Bhai Sahib sparked a new movement!

  2. Sikh women claimed their place in new and outstanding ways!

    • Balpreet Kaur gave this inspiring talk. We all love her.

    • SAFAR held it’s second annual Young Women’s Leadership conference, took us beyond International Women’s Day and shared a beautiful message on the International Day of the Girl.

    • The Sikh Coalition acknowledged International Day of the Girl for the first time.

    • The Sikh Activist Network featured poems about rape in India.

    • Sikhnet hosted an online youth film festival focused on KAUR. How amazing is that?!

    • The Sikh Art & Film Festival added a female speaker to their panel and 18MillionRising stepped in to support gender equality.

    • My awesome friends are building a Dastaar Tutorial Project for women (more details to come soon). Maybe now I can figure out how to keep a patka on my head that doesn’t slip off underneath my dastaar. Win!!!!!

  3. We marked the one-year anniversary since Oak Creek and grieved several other hate crimes but still came out on top.

    • Piara Singh was attacked in Fresno and the community rose to the occasion in inspiring ways, serving meals and buckets full of compassion to local families.

    • Dr. Prabhjot Singh invited his attackers to worship with him and shifted the narrative of justice when it comes to hate crimes.

    • The Sikh Coalition released a new version of Fly Rights. Rockin it!

    • Jasjeet Singh spoke at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. No big deal.

    • Dr. Kiran Arora began a study on religion and race-related stress among North American Sikhs. Much-needed.

    • Turban Myths was released, the first national public perception assessment on the Sikh American community, conducted by SALDEF in collaboration with Stanford University. Nicely done! Continue Reading »


Gold Medalist – Man Kaur (95)

mannkaur_1.jpgOlympic season will soon be upon us. This year the Games will be held in London. Hopefully we’ll be able to feature biographies on a number of our Sikh athletes that will be competing.

While Fauja Singh has become a celebrity in our community, he is not alone.

Man Kaur, aged 95, of Chandigarh took up running under the encouragement of her son, 72-year-old Gurdev Singh. Last year in Sacramento she received two gold medals in the 90+ age group in the 100m and 200m events. While not a marathoner, it is still an amazing achievement by an amazing woman.

“My son introduced me to athletics. I was hesitant at first, when the idea of stepping into the competitive. arena was thrown at me. But now, running has become a part of my life,” said Mann Kaur, who donned the track pants for the first time in her life last month during the 32nd national masters meet. She won a gold in both the 100m and 200m races in the 90+ age category.

Some have even argued that track and field athletics is one of the purest forms of sport, because it tests speed, strength, power and endurance. What ‘s more, athletic competition is so obviously and easily quantifiable – after all, the tape measure and the photofinish camera don’t lie. However to run the 100M and 200M at the age of 95 requires more than merely great natural physical ability. Athletes at this age need a systematic and highly effective training programme carefully crafted to achieve physical ability to run a 200M race.

In a recent exchange with her grandson, he shared his inspiration for physical fitness coming from the example set by the Gurus. He sent the note:

Let us start living in Begumpura Sehar and enjoy Guru’s grace. This is meant to encourage youngsters.

Enjoy some more pictures and articles on Man Kaur below the fold.

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Building Begampura: Confronting Caste

Caste is one of those dark secrets in our community. Some defend it as culture, others downplay its discriminatory effects, and some go even as far as to blame the victims of the violence itself.

Many have documented the ongoing apartheid that exists in our villages and in our minds.

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Some scholars have recently looked at the issue in light of the commitment to equality bequeathed by our Gurus, but the continued existence of discriminatory practices by many Sikhs. Professor Natasha Behl sheds some light on this topic in her dissertation, titled The Politics of Equality: Caste and Gender Paradoxes in the Sikh Community. She began her research asking the simple questions: How do ordinary Sikhs maintain a belief in equality while also participating in caste- and gender-based discrimination? How do Scheduled Caste Sikhs and Sikh women take political action in a community that engages in discrimination, yet denies its very existence?

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Help UNITED SIKHS Win!

Seems to be a rather slow week for me and the fellow langa(w)riters. Maybe we’re at #occupywallstreet, or preparing for Fauja Singh’s appearance at SikhLens this weekend in Los Angeles, or who knows what else we’re doing. Still one thing we all made sure to do is vote for United Sikhs in the Chase Community Giving. As of my posting, they are currently #2. Can’t help but think that the competition has gotten considerably less over the last few years as the money has increased. Other Sikh orgs (read: ENSAAF), where you at!!

Regardless, vote NOW. You have to “like” Chase Community Giving. Many of you probably already have done it from the Jakara Movement’s win back in 2009. So now just go back and keep on voting. Let’s help push United Sikhs to the win. VOTE NOW! The competition ends on November 22, 2011. Let’s push United Sikhs to first place!

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Attention Sikh Art and Film Enthusiasts!!

Its that time of year again!

For those Southern California natives, you (hopefully) know it rolls around once every year. This year, SikhLens is proud to announce its annual Sikh Arts and Film Festival to be held November 18th 20th, 2011 at the prestigious Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in Orange, California. As avid supporters of Sikh Arts, and creativity in general, I am hoping our readers would be especially interested in this event coming up in the next couple of weeks.

The Sikh Arts and Film Festival serves as a central venue for artists to showcase and share Sikh heritage and culturethrough the mediums of film, literature, art, music, social media and fashion. As an often-misidentified minority, this type of forum has proven to be essential for Sikhs to transcend cultural boundaries, generate awareness, and connect with the broader community.

This year at the festival, SikhLens has a variety of programmingranging from literary works, films, live artist performances and much more. Special guests include the inspirational Sardar Fauja Singh ji, comedian Jus Reign, the versatile actors Guru Singh and Agam Darshi, rap artist Mandeep Sethi and many more. The festival will be offering a great opportunity for attendees to interact, engage, and dialogue with the featured artists. It is a very special treat to see the guest of honor being Sardar Fauja Singh Ji, an amazing inspiration to all generations of Sikhs, and many non-Sikhs alike.You do not want to miss the opportunity to meet and interact with them! SikhLens is also proud to announce that the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed film Breakaway (also known as Speedy Singhs) will premiere for the first time ever in the United States! The film takes place in Toronto, Canada and is a combination of Hollywood-meets-Bollywood actors.

For tickets, scheduling and more information, visit www.sikhlens.com.


Sikh runner featured in NYC marathon: Cast your vote!

Following in the footsteps of great Sikh marathon runners like Fauja Singh, a young Sikh Ph.D. student named Simran Singh is currently training to run the largest marathon in the world — the New York City Marathon. And he’s running for a good cause. Simran is working with Team in Training and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This is probably blogworthy in and of itself, but here’s what is extra exciting: Simran was selected by the NYC Marathon as one of just six featured runners this year!

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Simran is already representing our community well in the public spotlight as one of the featured runners, but we can all help him get selected as the grand prize winner, meaning more positive representation and mainstream media attention for a turban-wearing Sikh. Hopefully Simran’s presence will help break down stereotypes and barriers (not to mention support cancer research).

Here’s what we can do to support Simran: Go to the ING Featured Runner’s Page, click “View Featured Runners,” and then you can vote for Simran once a day until the contest ends on November 4th. The runner with the most votes wins.

Good luck Simran!


Sikh Women and Sports
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Ashpal Kaur Bhogal

TLH has covered several promising athletes in the Sikh community. Basketball player Darsh Singh, Football player Nuvraj Bassi, and Boxer Andrew Singh Kooner. The list of Sikh athletes is fortunately growing, includingFauja Singh, Pardeep Nagra, andSubaig Singh- some of whom we have covered and others we haven’t had a chance to. Jodha recently updated us on the Bhullar Brothers, potential NBA-ers, Sim Bhullar and younger brother Tanveer Bhullar, both 7-foot-somethings.

The thing about this list, however, is that all of these athletes are men.

It begs the question, then, where is the representation of Kaurs in sports today? After watching news coverage of the growing number of women playing kabaddi in Punjab, and with the popularity of the Women’s World Cup finals this past weekend, it made me think about the importance of sports in the lives of young Sikh girls. Much has been written about why sports are critical for young girls.

A large body of research shows that sports are associated with all sorts of benefits, like lower teenage pregnancy rates, better grades and higher self-esteem… separate studies from two economists offer some answers, providing the strongest evidence yet that team sports can result in lifelong improvements to educational, work and health prospects… Using a complex analysis, Dr. Stevenson showed that increasing girls sports participation had a direct effect on womens education and employment. [link]

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Sikhi or Soccer?

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[Note] There has been an update to this post, please see below.

Earlier this month the ruling body for international soccer, FIFA, banned the Iranian womens team from playing because of their uniforms. The stated reason for the disqualification is that the womens uniforms, which include a track suit and a head scarf, violated the FIFA dress code. The rules for the 2012 Olympics, according to FIFA, state that,

[p]layers and officials shall not display political, religious, commercial or personal messages or slogans in any language or form on their playing or team kits.

Covering the full body is required of women in Iran and when these players were faced with a decision between their faith or football, they chose their faith. Previously, we’ve blogged about the slippery slope of religious symbols, particularly in places like France. Several blogs and opinion pieces have noted that”it seems unlikely that FIFAs decision is truly independent of any kind of paternalistic or anti-Islamic sentiment, like the anti-head scarf fervor and bigotry going on in France.”

saturday_images_image_11_623183038.jpgDo Sikhs need to be worried about such policies? Would we need to choose between Sikhi or Soccer? While it seems like this may not be of immediate concern to the Sikh community (because really do YOU know any Sikhfootball soccer players?!) – it is of concern to us because often times turbans come under similar scrutiny. We have amazing athletes, such as Fauja Singh, who are integrally involved in sports in places like England (there are even Facebook pages dedicated to “Fauja Singh for London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer”). Imagine if this sentiment continues to grow across Europe, as it seems like it is, what will that mean for Fauja Singh and other athletes who wear turbans? So, readers, I’m curious – do we need to worry about this issue?

UPDATE: According to a recent article, Sikhs are impacted by these policies,

Muslims are not the only minorities being affected by the rules of professional sporting bodies, such as FIFA, and those enforcing them. Another player, this time a young Sikh, 14-year-old Sagerpreet Singh, was also prevented from playing because he wears a turban, which the Quebec Soccer Federation argues gives him an “unfair competitive advantage on headers”. Given that turbans do not cover the forehead (the part used for “heading” a ball) it is not clear how this could give an edge to a player.

If you’d like to sign a petition whichurges FIFA to reconsider and reevaluate its stance on the dress code restrictions it has placed so that all women can play, you can do so here.


“My Headcovering is Downright Sikh” – Sikhtoons debut book released

As mentioned last month, New York City-based Vishavjit Singh released his first “Sikhtoons” book this Spring. Entitled My Headcovering is Downright Sikh: An Illustrated Intro to Turbans, the book “uses a collection of cartoons from Sikhtoons.com to create a visual narrative to dispel the mysteries of the Sikh turban. Featuring Fauja Singh, Waris Ahluwalia and many other Sikhs from all walks of life this visual journey is a turbanful introduction to Sikhs.”

The book features 30 cartoons and can be ordered online in the US, Canada, and UK for $10.

Though I have not seen the book myself yet, it has the endorsement of Sikh scholar IJ Singh, who states:

Vishavjit Singh’s topic is serious, his touch light, but not comedic. The sense of the absurd is critically important to the cartoonist. That, too, will emerge, I am sure, for I see their seeds in his work. I believe that the lightest matters deserve a serious undertone and the most heavyweight issues need some levity, even comedic treatment sometimes, lest the burden becomes too heavy to carry.

Congratulations to Vishavjit on this accomplishment. As misconceptions and stereotypes about Sikhs continue to persist in the mainstream media and general public, I hope Vishavjit’s creative cartoon interventions reach a much wider audience through this book.


Sikhtoons book to be released
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Happy 100th Birthday Fauja Singh!

New York City-based Vishavjit Singh, the creator of Sikhtoons, is releasing his very first Sikhtoons illustrated book next weekend at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival in NYC. We’ve blogged about Vishavjit and Sikhtoons many times before, and are glad to see Sikhtoons going to the next level in book format.

According to Vishavjit, “The book focuses on dispelling the mysteries of the Sikh dastaar…target[ing] young and old, Sikh and Non-Sikh. The book features Fauja Singh, Hip Hop Singhs, Waris Ahluwalia and much more.”

Sikhtoons has long been a creative and light-hearted medium to tackle important issues for our community from 1984 to Hindutva, bullying in schools to contemporary Punjab politics. The details on the release event are below, and you can buy tickets in advance here and RSVP on Facebook here. Hopefully the book will be available to order online in the future. We’ll keep you posted.

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival
MoCCA Fest 2011!
Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th 11am-6pm
At the Lexington Avenue Armory
68 Lexington Ave (Between 25th &26th Streets)
New York, NY 10010

 


Looking to Our Sikh Elders

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I am inspired. With the growing prevalence of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes in our community – it is important to be inspired. Fauja Singh, Amrik Singh, Ajit Singh and Karnail Singh (with a combined age of 336) recently took part in the Edinburgh Marathon as part of the relay Sikhs in the City team. How have they stayed so healthy? The quartet agrees that a combination of a positive frame of mind, keeping the company of people who are forward looking, not indulging in any excesses, appreciating what God has provided them with and keeping active is the key to being healthy.

All four members of Sikhs in the City share an infectiously positive outlook and lust for life that is key to their ongoing success. Ajit Singh, 79, for instance, has just learned to ride a bicycle, so one of his goals now is to complete a triathlon. He and his lifelong friend Amrik Singh, also 79, have completed more than 1,000 races between them and acted as mentors to Fauja. Karnail Singh, 80, is the newest member of the team and the least experienced runner. His “experimentation” with course routes means that his teammates have to keep an eye on him, but what he lacks in kilometres he more than makes up for in providing the focus for a little gentle mickey-taking. [link]

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A new Sikh award

A new contest + award is in place for Sikhs. Who will be the Chic Sikh of the Year for 2008?

The sponsor is Sikhchic, the online magazine which promotes Sikhs in the arts (and also invites articles on an array of subjects). The nomination process is completely transparent, which makechic_sikh_of_the_year.pngs it interesting. Anyone can nominate by simply entering a nomination and the reasons for it as a comment. It then gets posted, so you can see all of the nominations here. So far, the illustrious nominees include: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Singh Twins, Fauja Singh, Amandeep Singh Madra, and I.J. Singh.

The award doesn’t have to be awarded to a Sikh. It’s unclear how much of a connection a nominee has to have to the Sikh community- whether they have to commit a Sikh-like deed or act to somehow promote/improve the Sikh community. It also doesn’t have to be to a person- it can be to an institution. There are many organizations that have done some really interesting things in the past few years for the Sikh community, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of them nominated.

Awards validate ideals- confirm that they mean something. It ‘s unclear so far what ideals this award will recognize since the parameters for nomination have been left purposefully vague. I guess we’ll know more when an awardee is chosen.

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Baeke Vekh Jawana…

BobbyGrewal.jpg 72 year old Balwant (“Bobby“) Singh Grewal is walking 500 miles (800 km) from the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh to the House of Parliament in London in five weeks. He began on June 5th and is scheduled to finish on July 9th. He is raising 100 million pounds for cancer research. (If you can’t tell by the bolded format, I’m rather impressed by this feat.)

Grewal is undertaking the walk to raise one million pounds for research into bowel cancer and other bowel diseases at St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow, a hospital unique in the U.K. [link]

This isn’t the first time Bobby Grewal has walked to raise large sums of money for medical research.

In 2001, he ran the London Marathon in just over five hours, and in 2004-5 (aged 68), he completed a walk covering 2,500 miles across India from the North-West frontier to the deep South…The walk raised 100,000 pounds for research into cancer and AIDS. [link]

Do you think Bobby Grewal is in the same class as the legendary Fauja Singh?


Creating Your Own Path

How many of you have ever heard the following words from your parents, “Become a Doctor, (feel free to interchange with Lawyer or Engineer for the same effect)!”?weirdo.jpg

Our generation is definitely starting to see the freedom to pursue career paths that are unconventional to our parents’ or their parents’ generation. When you realize you will ultimately be doing the same job for the rest of your life, you begin to think about what you’re most “passionate” about. Many parents are coming around to the idea that there are many lucrative fields of work for their children to pursue and which they are “passionate” about.

Last week I heard journalist Lisa Ling say that she is often asked to speak at college graduations, and the one thing she feels a lot of students are doing is studying for a career, rather than studying to become a well-rounded person and allowing the career to find you.

Many of us are told to pursue a “stable” career first, and do your “hobby” on the side. Although patterns have shown that Sikhs are probably one of the most entrepreneurial group of people in the world. Our ancestors before us have shown how perseverance of a dream can become a reality. Many of our parents’ generation came to the West with a few dollars, or pounds, in their pocket to begin their new life- and live the American Dream.

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Just Cool

My brother sent me the following picture. There is no article to accompanying it, but I thought that it is just cool to have a sabat surat Sikh portrayed in such a positive and “normal” light. The man in the picture is Fauja Singh, a world record holding marathon runner. This billboard appears in Vancouver, Canada.
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