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Sikhs that Shoot

Abhinav_Bindra.jpgAbhinav Bindra was considered a child prodigy, but has had limited success on the largest competitive stages.  Still he is considered a medal hopeful.

Bindra will be competing in the 10m air rifle competition.  Qualifications and the finale will all be on Day 3 (Monday, August 11, 2008) in the afternoon


Canadian Field Hockey

In these commentary posts, I will be republishing my original writings as well as include pictures of the athletes and the timings of their events.

There will be four Canadian field hockey athletes that come from Punjabi Sikh backgrounds on this year’s Canadian Olympics Team.  Our Sikh community’s fearless foursome will all be wearing turbans (pagris) during the Opening Day Ceremonies.


Seafaring Sikhs

Manjeet Singh, a Chandigarh rower, has had much success at the junior levels.  He will be competing in at the world stage in Beijing in the lightweight double sculls event.  While Manjeet Singh and his partner Devinder Kumar are not considered medal contenders, they are hoping for a top-10 finish.

Rowing is set to begin on Day 1 (Saturday, August 9, 2008) at 17:00-17:10.


Jasveer Singh – Canadian Sikh Weightlifter

Representing the world of weightlifting, 5’3” Jasveer Singh (sometimes written Jasvir Singh), who came from Punjab in 2002, has become a Canadian and Sikh sensation (many communities have even held akhand Jasveer_Singh.jpgpaaths to raise money for him). He is the first British Columbian weightlifter to go to the Olympics in twenty years. Jasveer (Jasvir) Singh has been sponsored by many Sikh groups including the Khalsa Diwan Society New Westminster in hopes of bringing Olympic glory to Canada. On the right you can see Jasveer Singh being honored and given a check by members of the Westminster Sangat.

Jasveer Singh will be competing in the Men’s 62kg category. According to the official Beijing 2008 Olympics schedule, the event and the medaling ceremony will all be on Day 3 of the Olympics (Monday August 11, 2008).

Sikhs in the Olympics, Beijing 2008

So today will mark the opening of the Olympic Games. Some will cheer for their states; some will cheer for their heroes; some won’t care.sikhs_olympics.jpg

Well, here are FOURTEEN reasons to care: reasons that transcends national barriers and in many ways is more reflective of our Sikh-centered, globalized outlook. It is related to the fact that Sikhs from throughout the world congregate here at The Langar Hall and that issues ranging from Kenya, New Zealand, Canada, Panjab, England etc. all interest us

So in this spirit of continuing to foster a globalized Sikh diasporic community, I present to you the untold story of Punjabi Sikhs in the Olympics. The reason I am using the term ‘Punjabi Sikh’ is because I don’t really know how they identify themselves, but their names indicate that they come from a common ethnic stock – a Punjabi Sikh background.

I am trying to make this list comprehensive, so if I left anyone out, please feel free to post a comment and I will go back to add them. Let’s make this a project we do together, by posting their finishings and results. [also thank you to Mandeep Singh for correcting some of my mistakes]

Sikhs in the Olympics:

Sikhs are one of those great unknown Olympic stories. It is a diasporic story where Sikhs have representeed many countries and many continents. In the Beijing Olympics, there will be Sikhs (on as far as I could figure out using the wikipedia lists) coming from India and Canada. In years past, Sikhs have been included on teams from Kenya, Great Britain, and even Malaysia. From the regions of the five Olympic Rings (Blue – Europe, Yellow – Asia, Black – Africa, Green – Oceania, Red – Americas), Sikhs, including those in the diaspora have been at the center of many Gold medal winning teams – especially in field hockey. As far as individual glory, Milkha Singh “the Flying Sikh” disappointing fourth place finish in the Men’s 400M in the 1960 Rome Olympics.


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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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?

UPDATE: Navraj Bassi – Sikh CFL Football Player

Since the Sikh community first learned about Navraj (Nuvraj) Singh Bassi, many on the internet have rushed to create facebook groups, orkut groups, and other fan displays.bassi_camp.jpg I think the CFL in general, but the SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS, in particular, will see a new group of excited fans.

Many have wondered about Nuvraj Singh Bassi’s status and luckily here in The Langar Hall, we have made friends with some great Roughrider fans, including Behaving Bradley, photographer Downtown Aaron Brown, Giventofly (GTF), and others on the Roughrider Fan Forums.

So from what I gather, Navraj is still a ‘raw’ player, but many are excited about the player he may become. He seems to have suffered a foot injury, but is still in attendance at training camp. We hope him a speedy recovery and the Roughriders a great season! We’ll try to keep you updated with the help of Behaving Bradley and others from the forum!


A long time ago, my fellow Langa(w)r-iter, posed the question:

Can a kesdari Sikh man excel at high levels of athletic competition in the U.S. and practice his faith? [link]

Back then she was introducing us to Darsh Singh, Trinity University’s keshadhari (turbaned) Sikh starter and co-captain.

Today, I introduce you to Navraj Singh Bassi.


Rise of the Great Khali

Other bloggers have discussed their convictions regarding manly men, but Dalip Singh Rana from Himachal Pradesh may have taken this concept to a whole new level.


At a mere 7 feet, 3 inches and 420 pounds, Dalip Singh is blazing a new trail into World Wrestling Entertainment.

He is the first Indian to be signed up by WWE, and enjoys top billing in the famous American showbiz circus alongside fighters such as Hulk Hogan and The Rock.

The WWE website says of Rana:

This enormous monster has walked the jungles of India unafraid of pythons and wrestled White Bengal tigers. Legend states that the Punjabi Warrior has “stared into the abyss and the earth trembled at his gaze.


‘Butcher of Punjab’, You’re Fired!

Poor KP Gill. The ‘butcher of Punjab’ lost his cushy government position, after having been President of the Indian Hockey Federation for fifteen years.

12kr16_DSC0038.jpgBribery, corruption, and mediocrity – this is Gill’s legacy as President of the Indian Hockey Federation. After failing to even qualify for the Beijing Olympics in field hockey, for the first time since field hockey’s introduction in 1928, and then finding himself in the midst of an expose where his handpicked Secretary-General was videotaped(!) accepting a bribe to select a player on the national team, the calls for Gill’s dismissal had become too loud. Others had called for his resignation, but the ever prideful Gill has a track record of being unceremoniously dismissed.

Crying as usual, Gill responded:

“Am I to resign based on a concocted sting operation, or simply because some players or a section of the media wants me to? There is a rule of law, a democracy in the country, I am not going to resign when I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. [link]

Really, what is he going on about? Was his cushy bureaucratic position an ‘elected’ seat? What does democracy have to do with anything in this context? Rule of law? The fact that Gill should ever utter the phrase ‘rule of law’ or appeal to it is beyond absurd. Unfortunately the tragedy upon those families he destroyed prevents me from laughing at the irony. Where was the rule of law for the tens of thousands he made ‘disappear’?


Introducing: Darsh Singh

Can a kesdari Sikh man excel at high levels of athletic competition in the U.S. and practice his faith? Just ask Darsh Singh, junior starter and co-captain of Trinity University’s basketball team:

Darsh Singh

This season, fans haven’t had to chant for Darsh – the team co-captain has appeared in every game, and every time he plays, he makes a statement. As a follower of the Sikh religion, Darsh speaks volumes by wearing a turban and allowing his beard to grow. In fact, it’s believed that he is the only turbaned Sikh to play in an NCAA basketball game.

Maybe you weren’t as impressed as I was by his exploits as a jock. Not to worry, beta is an active engineering student, making honors every year and working in a number of student organizations.


Rocket Roger and Raging ‘Roids in Rural Raikot

* (the asterisk)
This symbol should be assigned to most of the professional baseball’s records over the last two decades. From Barry Bonds to now Roger Clemens, most of the greats of this baseball era have had their images tarnished by allegations of cheating. Whether the baseball owners and media are accomplices will be left for another post.

steroids.jpgHowever, the steroids use hits closer to home. Although this article (you may need to register for a free account) is over 4 years old, recent visits to Punjab makes me believe that the problem has gotten even worse. A more recent article from only two weeks ago discusses how steroid usage is now common among school children for athletic competition.

Steroid usage has become normal throughout village ‘health centers.’ In rural areas, unemployment is high, alcoholism is high, mix that in with steroids and you have a volatile mix. Chris Benoit’s heinous murder of his wife and son and subsequent suicide was largely based on the neurological damage caused by prolonged steroid usage. Will we be reading more reports in the future about ‘roid rage violence against women?

Bringing the issue to the diaspora, there are many Punjabi males that take steroids. Bodybuilding and gym usage is popular. This phenomenon is nothing unique in our community, but are there any specific pressures or attributes within our community that many males to take to steroids?

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.

Harbhajan Singh in a Zidane Mess

So I’m kind of amazed how much press Harbhajan Singh is getting for his, admittedly, terrible use of words. Racism is racism, but whoa, the drama? Isn’t that left to the world of football soccer? (Remember the Zidane episode in the 2006 world cup final?) I for one did not realize how incredibly significant cricket is in the world of… well, in the world. Now…I’m captivated.harbhajan_singh.jpg

Harbhajan Singh was banned for making a racist remark during India’s tempestuous defeat to Australia in the second Test…Australia‘s players had claimed that Harbhajan called Australia‘s Andrew Symonds a “monkey” during an on-field incident…All-rounder Symonds, 32, is the only non-white player in the Australian side. [BBC]

The Indian team felt they were victims of two injustices, the first being the umpiring (which cost them the game) and then the second being a ruling from the referee, Mike Procter, which could cost Harbhajan Singh’s participation in the rest of the games series. (Please excuse my lack of correct Cricket verbiage).

Clearly, calling another player a “monkey” isn’t cool, especially when this same player experienced taunts from the crowd when he toured India last October. But without actual evidence, Indians are calling the ruling against Harbhajan “blatantly false.”

Many in the Australia-based Indian diaspora have come forward claiming that Harbhajan is not guilty of a racist slur – and that the controversy is the product of a cultural misunderstanding…”Considering that the Monkey God is one of the revered idols of Hindu mythology and worshipped by millions, it’s surprising it was considered a racist term,” said Raj Natarajan, the president of the Sydney-based United Indian Association.

Recent news updates suggest the tour will most likely go on… and therefore, so will the finger-pointing.

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