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Defending Our Mother Earth: Sikhs at the People’s Climate March

Guest blogged by Bandana Kaur

“Pavan guru paanee pitaa
Maataa dharat mahat10608260_10154584131160263_3283797911179145605_o
Divas raat du-i daa-ee daayaa
Khaylai sagal jagat”
-Guru Nanak Sahib 

In honor of the Sikh concern for preserving ‘Mata Dharat’ (Mother Earth), Sikhs from cities across the northeast are joining the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st, the largest mass movement for climate justice in history.

Next week, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. The world is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

Why Are We Marching?

We march because Sikhi affirms the sanctity of the Earth.

We march because the ecological basis of Sikhi rests in the understanding that the Creator (‘Qadir’) and the Creation (‘Qudrat’) are One. The Divine permeates all life, and is inherent in the manifest creation around us, from the wind that blows across land and skies, to the water that flows through rivers and seas, to the forests and fields and all creatures of land and sea that depend on the earth for sustenance.

We march because Sikh Gurus teach that there is no duality between the force which makes a flower grow and the petals we are able to touch and sense with our fingers.

We march because the Sikh Gurus referred to the Earth as a ‘Dharamsaal,’ a place where union with the Divine is attained. Guru Nanak describes this in Jap Sahib, that amid the rhythms of Creation, the changing seasons, air, and water, the Creator established the earth as the home for humans to realize their Divinity in this world.

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Dharti

 

Sometimes I wonder where 1984 went
Sitting across the dinner table from my parents
Frozen
Me stuck at the age of 1
The annihilation of my mind
I touch my long braid to make sure it’s still there
My brothers dressed as girls to pass through another village for safety

Terror rises
And I dance
Making ancient sounds with my body
Slapping my heels against bare earth
Raising my arms then spinning
I look down at dirty red brown

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Happy New Year!

While many people often confuse Vaisakhi as the beginning of the new year, today is the actual Sikh New Year.  It is the first day of the Nanakshahi Calender and Chet is the first month.  Today is also Sikh Environment Day, a campaign initiated by Eco Sikh and its volunteers throughout the globe and celebrated on the Gurgadi of Guru Har Rai Ji.

Chet (1)

“Chet” from Barah Maha Calender

What will your new year’s resolutions be?  What Sikh ideals will you plant today and seek growth of throughout the year?

alm

Image from “A Lion’s Mane”

Barah Maha Calender via Sikh Foundation

A Lion’s Mane by Navjot Kaur via Saffron Press

March 14th, Sikh Vatavaran Diwas (Environment Day) 2012

Sikhs around the world will come together again to celebrate the Gurdgaddi of Guru Har Rai Ji again SikhVatavaran Diwas (environment day) for a second year in a row. On this day, Gurdwaras worldwide will focus kirtan and katha on the concept of kudrat, and participate in a number of hands on activities to protect our environment.

Ask your Gurdwara to participate by:

  • Focusing kirtan and katha on nature
  • Hosting the Khalsa School Lesson on the Environment, created by the Sikh Research Institute
  • Participating in a cleanup, tree planting, or childrens activity

All resources will be available on the EcoSikh website. Participating Gurdwaras should register to keep a database on worldwide activities, and respond with a Yes on the Facebook invitation.

The purpose of Sikh Vatavaran Diwas is to bring Khalsa Panth together on issues of the environment. With Punjab ranking twenty-seventh out of thirty states in the environmental performance index (EPI), the need for Sikhs to connect Gurbani to the issues around them is real. The contamination of soil, land and water from intensive agricultural production remain high on the list of Punjabs ecological challenges, in addition to industrial pollution and solid waste, low forest cover, and air pollution from thermal plants.

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One Village Tells the True Story of Panjab

Guest blogged bySatvinder Kaur Dhaliwal

Admin Note: After completing her undergraduate studies in Anthropology, the author traveled to Panjab to volunteer. She spent her time volunteering at Pingalwara and working with the Baba Nanak Education Society (BNES). Below is an article she wrote for BNES to raise awareness about their impactful work addressing farmer suicides.

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farm.JPGVillage Barlan, District Sangrur, located near the Panjab-Haryana border, depicts the prosperous, joyful Panjab that many of us are eager to visit. Roads leading to the village are surrounded by what appearsto be flourishing farmland, stretching as far as one can see. Children have returned from school and are laughing and chasing each other through the streets of the village, the elderly have gathered to discuss recent happenings, and women can be seen carrying various necessities to their homes. This first glance overview of Balran disguises a harsh reality that a growing number of households in the village are facing suicide.

Suicide is an equal opportunity visitor in Balran and many other villages throughout Panjab. Increasing farming costs, the removal of farmers subsidies, and low rates for crops are putting Panjabs farmers in a never-ending cycle of debt accumulation. Each year, farmers in Panjab face increased agricultural costs and low returns for their crops. In order to cover these costs, farmers must take out loans, which they usually get from their local aarthiya or money-lender. The aarthiya often ends up being the same individual who will buy the farmer’s crop at the mandi or market, and then re-sell the crop on the public market. Sukhjinder Singh, a farmer, described the reason for debt accumulation as, Let’s say that I sell my crop for 11 rupees per kilogram. When I need to purchase the same crop for my home, I have to buy it for 14 rupees per kilogram. So how can we profit? Consequently, when a farmer’s costs are constantly exceeding his profits, he must cover his costs by taking out loans. Now, he has increased his debt by introducing extremely high interest rates, which are often decided by the aarthiya.

Unlike the west, the gendered demarcations of males and females in Panjab are much more stark, and it is common for women to be unaware of their family’s financial circumstances. Therefore, when the male becomes consumed in debt and can no longer bear humiliation from the taunting money-lenders, he begins to see only one way out suicide. His surviving family members are not only left devastated, but they must find a way to provide for themselves and pay off the debt on their family, of which they may never have been aware in the first place. Often times the surviving family members include a wife, children, and elderly parents.In winter 2011, I visited the families of various suicide victims in Balran. Some families had lost their loved one a few years ago, while some had only experienced the loss a few days ago. Although I only visited seven families, the Baba Nanak Education Society has documented 91 suicides and numerous missing individuals in Balran since 1998. Nonetheless, all family members were still grieving equally and struggling to pay off their debt.

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As the World Celebrates Earth Day, Punjab to Implement Plastic Bag Ban

As the world celebrates the 41st Earth Day on April 22nd, to raise awareness about the state of the global environment (now recognized worldwide as International Mother Earth Day) the Punjab government this week announced that it would issue strong penalties on the use of polythene bags less than 30 microns in size (think of it this way, a piece of hair is about 50 microns across). The statement warns of strong penalties for violations of the Punjab Plastic Bags Control Act a regulation initially passed in 2005, barring the manufacture and distribution of the smallest polythene. Bags 30 microns and smaller have been stressed because they are more likely to fly through the air to lands and public waterways. Polythene bags above this size will continue to be manufactured. Violators could face up to three months in jail.

Plastic bags contribute to Punjabs solid waste problem, one of the states growing challenges due to the number of small-scale industries producing disposable, manufactured goods. With the agricultural economy on the decline and the deflation in the price of agricultural land hitting rural areas hard, migration to urban areas and the demand for consumer products has increased the production of solid waste in recent years. Of all Punjabs cities, Ludhiana produces the greatest amount of solid waste from urban and industrial units, followed by Patiala, Jalandhar, and Amritsar, each seeing a rise over the past two decades. Waste from small commercial units dump non-biodegradable waste right onto street, which can pose serious environmental health challenges. (Under U.S. law, we classify these lands as Superfund/Brownfield sites indicating the presence of hazardous and otherwise harmful substances.)

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Japan in Crisis: What you can do

42_japanese_flag.jpgThe aftermath of last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan is nothing short of horrific. I’m sure most of you have seen footage of the devastation on the news and on YouTube. My mind is boggled, my heart is aching, and I am all in all extremely overwhelmed by what is happening.

While I haven’t heard about any specific Sikh responses or relief efforts yet, United Sikhs, which sent a team to Haiti after last year’s huge earthquake, has a Japan earthquake/tsunami page up on their website. If you know of any efforts happening, please post them in the comments section.

While we keep the people of Japan in our thoughts and prayers, there are many ways we can be taking action. Below are a few simple things you can do to provide support. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, so please add your own suggestions.

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Sikh Vatavaran Diwas Di Vadhaiyan

If you haven’t heard yet, March 14th, the First of the month of Chet in the Nanakshahi Calendar is being commemorated by Sikhs across six continents as Sikh Vatavaran Diwas, or Sikh Environment Day.

Following an official statement from the Akal Takht, this week over 250 Gurdwaras, schools, and Sikh organizations around the world, along with Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, will focus kirtan and katha on kudrat, host tree plantings, clean ups, nagar kirtans, children’s art displays, and Khalsa school lessons on the theme of the environment.

Heres a video taken of the British Columbia sangat during an entire weekend of successful events organized by the Sikh Green Team, in conjunction with the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and Sukh Sagar Gurdwara Sahib. Sarya Nu Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji de Gurgaddi Diwas Di Lakh Lakh Vadhaiyan Hove!

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Increasing Punjabs Forest Cover, One Tree at a Time

I just came across a great article on the work of Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib, Amritsar District, and his remarkable campaign to plant trees across rural Punjab. Well worth a read.

According to [Baba Sewa Singh], they will adopt another 100 villages this year in Bathinda, Jalandhar, Patiala, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts. We are targeting plantation of at least 500 trees in each village, which would make a total of 50,000 trees in 100 villages every year, he added.

Forests are vital to maintaining ecological balance in air, water and soils across Punjab. At present, only 6.5 percent of Punjab is under forests, which is even lower than the desert state of Rajasthan at 9.5 percent. Though the Punjab government plans to increase forest cover to 15 percent by 2017, ensuring that forests benefit the average person in Punjab will an important indicator of success in any afforestation effort financed by the state. Planting indigenous and native species like kikar, tahli, jamun, and neem trees, along with fruit trees in homes across villages will help ensure that the benefits derived from healthy, productive forests reach the many who still live in Punjabs rural areas.

Call Out to ALL Gurudwaras: Celebrate March 14th as Sikh Environment Day

Since the Green Revolution was introduced in the mid-1960s, the Sikh spiritual homeland of Punjab has been faced with mounting soil erosion, water table decline, widespread chemical contamination, and continued loss of biodiversity in agriculture and forests. The Cold War era anti-revolutionary plan transformed Punjab into the breadbasket of the Indian nation state but left Punjabs ecology in a critical state and set the agricultural economy on a path of long-term decline. Without Sikh institutions on board with the ecological reality of Punjab, the serious degeneration of the environment will continue to accelerate, and the marginalized and the poor will burden the costs of shortsighted statist policies that have exploited the natural resources of Punjab.

The week of March 14, the Gurpurab of Guru Har Rai Ji, Gurudwaras across Punjab and the Diaspora will participate in the first ever global day of reflection on the environment to reach the masses in Punjab and the world. On Sikh Environment Day Gurdwaras across the world will focus kirtan and katha on the environment, participate in tree plantings, install environmental notice boards, start pesticide-free vegetable gardens, and host Khalsa School lessons on the environment. The SGPC, DSGPC, AGPC, are all in support of this day and celebrations will be underway at Anandpur Sahib (‘pani bachao, rukh lagao!’). We have prepared a Gurdwara Guide and shabad compilation for participating Gurudwaras and the Sikh Research Institute has also created Sikh environmental education lesson for Khalsa Schools across the diaspora.

Major outreach efforts are underway across the world, but WE NEED YOU to invite your Gurudwaras to join Sikhs across the world. Please take ten minutes of your day, ‘like’ EcoSikh on facebook, download an English or Punjabi versions of our invitations, pass them on to your Gurudwara heads, and encourage your Gurudwara to REGISTER today. We can make this happen for the future generations and create a shift in thinking on the serious degradation of Punjabs rural and urban ecology before the process becomes irreversible.

Please visit www.ecosikh.org to learn more about Sikhisms contribution to a sustainable future. May the Khalsa ever remain spiritually exalted, and always in service of humanity.

Fatting It Up at the Langar Hall

Guest blogged by Navdeep Singh Dhillon

My wifes family is Hindu, with varying degrees of connections to the religion. Some of them have statues of deities like Krishna and Ganesh scattered throughout the house, others have entire rooms sectioned off for bhajans and pujas, and then there are those, who shall remain nameless, that go on random fasts they cant explain. It is a potato diet. I will eat potatoes today. Who else wants aloo parantha and aloo pakodas? is the only explanation given during fasting for the nine days of Navratri. I still dont get it. Nor do I get why some Sikhs dont eat certain foods on Thursdays, or why Jains have such a problem with potatoes because living organisms might be killed, but have no qualms about dousing their bland food with ghee, or eating vast quantities of paneer.

Many of my wifes family live in a concentrated area in Central Jersey a few minutes from each other. In the neighborhood, there is a Hindu temple, which they visited once, and never returned to. No, not because of politics, or religious differences. The reason: they didnt like the food. It is a Gujarati Hindu Temple, and they are very Punjabi. So they go out of their way, driving through the most industrial and uninspiring landscape New Jersey has to offer, to eat Punjabi food at the Gurdwara.

The irony is not that they are Hindu and attending a Sikh Gurdwara when a Hindu temple is a few minutes away. Sikhism has, from its inception, been welcoming to all religions, and many of the verses in the Guru Granth Sahib were written by Muslims and Hindus. The four openings at the Harimandir Sahib invite people from all directions and walks of life. The irony is that through their food, which Gujaratis and Punjabis take very seriously, both communities have been the hardest hit by ailments like heart disease and diabetes, affectionately known as sugar.

My post is an expansion on Brooklynwalas post Working for Langar Justice, which talks about making the move for our Langar Halls to go organic, a move I highly encourage.

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Working for Langar Justice

I love food. I love to cook. I love to gather with friends, community, and sangat and share a meal together.

Because food it our most primal need and our common bond to the earth and one another, it can ground us as we stretch ourselves to draw in all the interlaced threadsso we can weave a whole, meaningful picture for ourselves. I still believe food has this unique power. With food as our starting point, we can choose to meet people and to encounter events so powerful that they jar us out of our ordinary way of seeing the world, and open us to new, uplifting, and empowering possibilities. – Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe, from Hopes Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet

The Sikh institution of langar has always been something near and dear to me, partially because of my borderline obsession with food, but also because it really gets to the heart of Sikhi. The practice of langar, our free community kitchen, was started some 500 years ago by Guru Nanak to meet a basic human need eating and to create a space for community-building that reflected the Gurus radical vision of equality. Rules about food preparation and eating were (and still are) one of the central ways that caste oppression was enforced. Langar turned this all on its head. With everyone sitting together on the same level (on the floor) and eating the same simple food, which was prepared by people from all caste backgrounds, langar was nothing short of a revolutionary accomplishment.

It is with this lens that I want to discuss the food of langar itself.

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On Either Side, Punjab is Punjab
southernpunjab.jpg

In Pakistan's flood-ravaged Punjab province, roads are impassable.

One-fifth of Pakistan is under water.

900,000 people are now homeless.

Up to 20 million are impacted – more than the number of people affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.

As many of you know, Pakistan has recently been devastated by floods. The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, recently visited Pakistan and described the flooding as the worst disaster he has ever witnessed.The UN says six million people desperately need emergency aid but most still have not received it. Tens of thousands of villages remain under water. There are growing health concerns for those surviving without proper shelter, food or clean drinking water leading to a potential public health “catastrophe”. And all of this is still occurring almost three weeks after the country’s worst natural disaster began.

The numbers are staggering – almost unbelievable. Given the magnitude of this disaster, one would expect to see an outcry of sympathy for the victims from the global community. Then why does is seem that the world has become complacent when coming to the aid of this region? Perhaps the region’s geographical/symbolic proximity to the “war on terror”? Perhaps we’re suffering from selective giving?

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India changes agricultural subsidies to promote soil health

This week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted India’s decision to change some of its agricultural policies, in response to its punjab_ag_crisis_WSJ.jpgpost-Green Revolution crisis. (Hat tip: Bandana)

In the 1970s, India dramatically increased food production, finally allowing this giant country to feed itself. But government efforts to continue that miracle by encouraging farmers to use fertilizers have backfired, forcing the country to expand its reliance on imported food. [WSJ]

Kamaljit Singh, a 55 year old from Marauli Kalan in Punjab, explained:

He says farmers feel stuck. “The soil health is deteriorating, but we don’t know how to make it better,” he says. “As the fertility of the soil is declining, more fertilizer is required.” [WSJ]

Behind the worsening health of the soil is India’s agricultural policy. In it’s effort to boost food production, win farmer votes and encourage the domestic fertilizer industry, the government increased its subsidy of urea over the years, and now pays about half of the domestic industry’s cost of production.

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Greenhouse gases are bad for our health

It’s official. Greenhouse gases (the ones that trap heat in the atmosphere) are bad for our health! You may havEPA.jpge known that for some time now, but the EPA just announced it on Monday so now, it’s official.

The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced its final determination that greenhouse gases are a hazard to human health a widely expected move whose less-than-expected timing came on the first day of climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. [CSM]

Word on the street is that if Congress doesn’t do something to pass a climate bill, then the EPA will start regulating emissions on it’s own. Renegade agency!

… it is also seen as the stick part of a carrot-and-stick approach that many observers say the Obama administration is using to nudge Congress toward new climate-energy legislation. If the Senate where the bill is bogged down wont act, then its clear the EPA now stands ready to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, analysts say. [CSM]

Climate talks have begun in Copenhagen this week and are expected to not result in a climate deal. What actually will be achieved remains to be seen. Will it even be worth the carbon footprint created to bring all of the environmentalists to Copenhagen? Let’s hope.

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Reviving Trinjan in Punjab

How can Punjabi traditions, environmental awareness, and women’s space all be nurtured at the same time? Trinjan. Two organizations in Punjab recently teamed up to begin this. The Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), 09aug13.jpgworking towards sustainable agriculture, conservation of natural resources, environmental health and eco-sustainable technologies teamed up with Pingalwara, the org started by Bhagat Puran Singh in Amritsar as a refuge to care for those who had nowhere left to go. [Hat tip: Big B!]

These two groups combined efforts to revive the lost tradition of Trinjan. KVM created a new initiative- the Women Action for Ecology to encourage womens participation in an agro-ecological revival movement in Punjab.

From pictures on Pingalwara’s site, it seems that Pingalwara may have envisioned this first attempt at reviving Trinjan to be more a display of Punjabi traditions- natural foods, arts, and crafts. However a report from KVM envisions a much more active and central role for women in reviving Trinjan.

Since women are the first and worst victims of the agro-ecological crisis here and elsewhere, women need to work towards the mitigation process, for their own sake and for the sake of the community. Trinjan is an effort to mobilize women to appreciate their own traditional wisdom and role in the preservation and conservation of the environment in Punjab. Platforms for sharing of knowledge and spreading of practice are the main tool for empowerment of women in Trinjan. (emphasis added) [KVM report]

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Getting back to Sikhi’s treehugging roots

Nihang_Troop_on_Horseback_By_Canal.jpgEnvironmental issues have taken a backseat for way too long. Even under this administration – which promised to create jobs through new and clean energy initiatives, and rejoin the international community to reduce worldwide carbon emissions – environmental issues have taken a backseat to health care overhaul and reviving our frail economy.

Crisis

We should be especially concerned because the consequences of misusing resources are all too clear in the near-crisis state that Punjab’s ecology is currently in. Those who still have relatives in Punjab know that this past summer, electricity outages were a daily occurrence and lasted 8 hours at a time – the worst in many years. These shortages in electricity occur because the government subsidizes electricity for farmers so that it’s free or nearly so and they can pump water for irrigation to their heart’s content. However, this leads to electricity shortages, overuse of waterpumps, and water wastage. [Forbes-India]

An article in Forbes-India asked yesterday, Is India running out of water? For Punjab, the answer is yes.

And Punjab, as the breadbasket of the most populous nation in the world, may be an indicator of other similarly situated agricultural communities.

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Pollution and Disease in Punjab

In the Faridkot centre… Harmanbir Kaur, 15, was rocking gently backwards and forwards. When her test results came back, they showed she had 10 times the safe limit of uranium in her body. Her brother, Naunihal Singh, six, has double the safe level. [link]

baba_farid_center.JPGAn article in The Observer discusses the link between the dramatic rise in birth defects in Punjab and pollution from coal-fired power stations. Many of the children are being treated in Faridkot and at the Baba Farid centers for special children in Bathinda, where there are two coal-fired thermal plants. Staff at these clinics had noticed an increase in the incidence of severely handicapped children who were born with hydroencephaly, microencephaly, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome and other complications. They suspected environmental poisoning.

The healthcare workers rightfully voiced their concerns about this and wondered, if some children werebeing treated, how many more were being affected? As with governments other dirty little secrets, staff at the clinics were visited and threatened if they spoke out. In addition, a visiting South African toxicologist arranged for tests to be carried out and found that the children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies, in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit. The scientist was later warned by the authorities that she may not be allowed back into the country.

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Solar-electric rickshaws in Delhi

On your next trip to India, how will you travel? Train, car, metro? How about in a solar-electric powered cycle rickshaw? Because now you can. solekshaw.png

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, a government body, made a motor powered by a solar powered battery to decrease the effort required to pedal a cycle rickshaw. They call it a Solekshaw. It originally unveiled last year and has been testing in Delhi. [link] The Solekshaw can either be pedaled like a normal rickshaw or run on the solar powered battery for 30-42 miles before it needs to be recharged. Used batteries are recharged and replaced for a small fee at solar-powered stations. [Discovery]

Improvements on the original model are set to debut next year “with better aesthetics, ergonomics, speed and recumbent driving position.” [link]

The Solekshaw is made to carry 2 passengers (or 200 kg) and maxes out at 15 mph, which sounds normal for a cycle rickshaw (though I’m definitely not the best at gauging speed or weight). [link]

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Moving Beyond Folk Tales – Sikh Children’s Books

A-Lions-Mane-289x300.jpgAfrican American publishing houses were born out of a need the need to fill a void in the industry. Bookshelves needed to share stories of their struggles and to give children a stake in their evolving identities. In turn, they gave rise to a new generation of diverse voices, with Asian-Pacific and Latino publishers following suit. They all have the same goal to represent stories of their respective communities and give readers some authenticity and a sense of belonging. Now, consider this, how often did the covers of the books you read as a child have children who looked like you? Did these childrens books offer you a sense of belonging or importance? As our children enter into such a global community, it is clear that having access to authentic literature representing their heritage can only help ease the numerous challenges of peer pressure and to elevate self-esteem. Literature is perhaps the strongest avenue to enable us to realize our commonalities while teaching us about the idiosyncratic nature of one another.

This is why we are so excited to bring you news about a new childrens book that promises to be a staple on the shelves of young visionaries. A Lions Mane, being released this month, is written by Navjot Kaur and illustrated by Jaspreet Sandhu. The book is published by Saffron Press, an independent publisher, aiming to encourage children to deepen their understanding of positive self-identity.

In this beautifully illustrated story, young readers journey to cultures around the world to explore the meaning of the dastaar, or turban of the Sikhs. Allusive words placed within a vibrant red dastaar help promote our connections as global citizens and encourage dialogue around issues of identity and kinship. [link]

This book certainly moves beyond the traditional in several ways. A Lions Mane brings a global perspective to the often misidentified image of the Sikh turban. It is printed on 100% recycled paper as well as displaying an Eco-Libris badge 625 trees were planted for the first edition! In addition, a portion of proceeds from the sale of each book will support Seva Canadas work to restore sight and prevent blindness in children. By shopping at Saffron Press, you really will be contributing to a green and ethical experience! We spoke with the author, Navjot Kaur, about the book and the challenges she underwent to have this story published. After the jump is the book trailer and the author’s first interview. As you view the information, consider this how important is diverse and multicultural literature on the shelves of every library and school? Did you or do your children have access to this type of literature?

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