What Happens When Lions Roar?

203017_505627674_1913310_n.jpgToronto is abuzz. This weekend the IIFA [International Indian Film Academy]awards are being held in Toronto to many a South Asians delight.We are, however,delighted about Toronto for another reason. This weekend, The Sikh Activist Network will be hosting When Lions Roar 3 a night of hip hop, poetry, R&B and other art to remember the events of 1984.

There is much that can be said about the comparisons between the two events. The IIFA essentially celebrates bollywood an industry that frustrates many conscious Sikhs living in both India and the diaspora. The representation of Sikhs in bollywood films has been an area of discontent with Punjabis and Sikhs being portrayed as hypermasculineand other cringe-worthystereotypical roles [read Navdeeps piece, Media and the Sikhs]. While many applaud the increased presence of Sikh turbans in bollywood films, others may argue that this presence has not necessarily changed thetypical Indians perception of Sikhs in a positive way. For example, in Indian media Sikhs continue to be portrayed with words such as terrorist, extremist and radical [read this inaccurate and uninformed article]. Im not anti-bollywood by any means there are definite exceptions to the bollywood trend of representing Sikhs in a one-dimensional manner. However, I think its important that as a community, we stay informed and expect authentic representation of Sikhs (whether in books or films or other art forms). Bollywood is a huge industry thathas an enormous influence onbuilding or breaking downperceptions of groups and communities. [Side note: its interesting to me that discussions about Sikhs in bollywood never revolve around Punjabi or Sikh women. This may be a good or bad thing, but perhaps its a discussion for another time].

It is clear that the Sikh community cannot rely upon an industry to change overnight instead, we should focus on supporting and celebrating the immense diversity that makes up our community.

mosaicb12c99ca73a50f1ca2fbde6893081971d294ad48.jpgThe Sikh Activist Network is one group doing just that. When Lions Roar 3 opens this weekend, it will bring together a plethora of talented young Sikhs who, perhaps unknowingly, are helping to promote non-traditional paths to success in addition to helping to change the stereotype of Sikhs in the media. When Lions Roar 3 is a night of Hip Hop, Poetry, Spoken Word, and Visual Art to remember 1984 and the continuing struggle for justice. In our community, we spend a lot of time talking about the value of discussing issues and not just brushing them under the carpet. I think this event helps to do just that its important for our generation to discuss events such as 1984 in a healthy way and to build a sense of community around it. I hope SAN will invite Canadian media outlets to be present at the event to see that Sikhs can feel strongly about our identity AND feel connected to the countries we call home. In addition, the event should be written up in Panjabi newspapers to showelders in our communitythat the memory of 1984 will not be forgotten and to show them how we are choosing to commemorate. Be sure to check out theartists[also read For Many, Being a Sikh Means Being an Activist]. In the meantime, heres a preview ofone artist, named “Violinder”.

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Event Information:

Friday, June 24th | Dreams Convention Centre | 75 Hedgedale Road; Brampton, Ontario

Admission: Pay What You Can | All Ages Doors Open at 6pm

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42 Responses to “What Happens When Lions Roar?”

  1. Yad says:

    Excellent article and info will try to come this Friday to Brampton at least you can get entry to celebrate rather than the IFFA special connection sponsor only tickets.
    When “Lions Roar 3” at least we can celebrate
    Sikhi Panjabi Community Pride Ability Music Song Acting Dance . I congratulate your group and artists for your hard work organizing most importantly your “Roaring Success”
    A positive bridge-building community connecting barrier dropping event.
    Brampton,Ontario.Canada……..Violinder looks very professional capable.

  2. Baani k says:

    Love this! Any chance “When Lions Roar” will become a rotating/traveling show so that others in North America can attend??

  3. Blighty Singh says:

    Instead of prancing about like nancy boys to hip hop that night…..shouldn't you Canadians actually be at the IIFA awards…..reminding Amitabh Bachan and the watching world that we will never forget what he did and said in 1984 ? I just find it all a bit strange. How you can all have a fun hip hop night in one arena whilst just around the corner, in another arena, sits a man with Sikh blood on his hands, dressed to the nines and having a ball. The whole things pretty ironic. A hip hop night entitled 'never forget 1984'…where the participants can conveniently 'forget' 1984…and dance the night away…..while one of the guilty of 1984 enjoys a night out in Toronto.
    I swear you couldn't make this stuff up. The whole thing is a farce.

  4. Sundari says:

    Well, just as an FYI, Amitabh Bachan is not planning on attending the IIFA awards in Toronto. Not sure what the reason is, but he won't be there. Any other suggestions to cater to India or can we go ahead and celebrate our Sikh youth?

  5. Truth says:

    haha Sundari just got told

  6. Ajaib Kaur says:

    Blightly Singh; not sure where your skepticism is coming from, and encourage you to go and even perform at one of these events if possible.

    I honestly think events like When Lions Roar and Lahir have the power to change the culture of the Sikh community. Here on the East Coast we’ve been doing ‘Open Mic Nights’ since 1997, and they have played such an important role in helping us articulate themselves, experiment with their own talents, be Sikh in a way that is uniquely them.

    Also – I just want to mention that so many members of the Sikh community carry baggage from '84 and the post-9/11 climate. Until you have a place where you can talk about it, rap about it, sing about it, draw about it, cry about it, and connect with others about it, we’re silent to our own suffering, and it is a real emotion. When we start to build forums for our youth not only to express the suffering they’ve witnessed in their life, but do so in a positive way that inspires them to embrace their Sikh identity – it’s just a wonderful thing and you just gotta be there to know it, so definitely consider going next year if you can, brother.

  7. Jodha's sister says:

    Great post Sundari!!

    @Blighty Singh: the people who have worked incredibly hard to make When Lions Roar happen also organize langar for the homeless, mentoring programs for young people and they coordinated the very effective campaign against Kamal Nath in his visit to Toronto last year. I personally prefer an evening in with a good book, but i am in awe of what these young people are doing.

    There is an old English saying”there are many ways to skin a cat”, lets work together and support each other and not be so ready to critique, for we will skin this cat!

    [admin note: last warning to stop using this handle, next time you will be banned. warning no. 3 — and stick to one handle on TLH]

  8. kantay says:

    "but surprisingly "art" is not really encouraged in our community as something other than a "time pass."

    diagree – art, as in music, painting, writing ect. is a pretty important part of many punjabi sikh families. sure there could be more. Interestingly I see this blog comes at most issues from a "here's the problem but we can do better" angle. I guess that's another way to say….progressive.

  9. Blighty Singh says:

    "I am fascinated with how activism differs in North American compared to England. Having grown up in the UK"………………..(message in 3 parts ) part 1: .Activism, Sundari, has always been more extreme in England. This is the land where the muslims are the most radical muslims on gods earth….where the Irish are more Irish than the Irish (the 5th generation Londoners I went to school with used to criticise our teachers for spelling and pronouncing their surnames ' O'Connor'…..insisting on the gealic prounounciation of 'Nogh'er'). These are the streets for which Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto…when he arrived in London (incidentaly…..while both Karl Marx and Engels were writing the communist manifesto in Londonthey worked as freelance journalists in and subsequently wrote some very interesting pieces about the Sikhs in Punjab for the New York Times).

  10. Blighty Singh says:

    The 'activism' of the Sikhs here differs from those in north America precisely because of the 'flag'. Here, as you will be aware because you used to live here, you will never ever find a Sikh paying respect to the national flag. In fact, you never find anyone respecting, displaying etc the national flag. We can freely spit on, burn and urinate on our national flag. And often do. Thats because, unlike north America, our cities and towns have burn't because of nationalism. We know its not a good thing…….so don't indulge in it. (except during the football world cup which, in our consciousness, is like a world war) Thus…..the sikhs in England have only one flag to rally around……and that flag is the khanda (granted…some rally around the Indian flag…but the point is none of us rally around the British flag).

  11. Blighty Singh says:

    Thats always been the case even when you lived here Sundari but, since you left, our European borders have been erased,,,,even the supremacy of Parliament has been given away…and we are citizens of a united Europe. On top of that you've got the Scots and the Welsh only a generation away from repealing the Act of Settlement and going their own way….and the end of anything called 'Britain'….which only really existed for the tourists anyway. Our own national identity in this united Europe is now non-existent. Thus, as Sikhs,….Punjab….gets 100% of our nationalistic attention. When we agitate…..when we become activists….we, unlike the sikhs in Canada or America, have not a care in the world about England.
    On top of that you've got the history of how our communities differ when it comes to agitation. American and Canadian Sikhs have history. Sometimes a history that goes deepr and longer than ours here. But the difference is in how our fathers and grandfathers stamped their mark.

  12. Blighty Singh says:

    part 4 : . In 1979, it was our Sikh grandparents in Southall that finished off the fascist National Front party in the whole of the UK by fighting running battles with police on the streets. In 1981, it was our Sikh parents (including my dad….who was in the BBC report throwing molotov cocktails at the police) who finished off the skinhead movement in the land of its birth by taking to the streets and fighting running battles with them and the police that were protecting them.
    Therein lies the difference in how the England Sikhs and the Canadian Sikhs agitate…and remember 1984. The England sikhs have a tradition of taking to the streets. The England Sikhs have parents and grandparents with battle scars and criminal records for taking to the streets. The answer then…lies in geography. Wide open suburban spaces among the sikhs in north america. You don't think of the streets when you live in places like that. Here though…in one of the most densely populated and oldest neighbourhoods on earth………..taking to the streets is the most natural way to agitate

  13. […] or even one of the most exciting events in the diaspora When Lions Roar. These have been featured in The Langar Hall over the years and have generated plenty of praise and enthusiasm. This years third annual WLR […]

  14. nissa says:

    i think its upseting the way hindus potray sikhs in movies .its like they are stupid funny people thats all.i find they are amazing ani i am a muslim.when you go to there house they are so welcoming and very very nice people.look at dharminder so grounded and down to earth. he has not forgotten his roots where as amithab is a snob.

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