Bridging the Divide Between Sikh Generations

A few weeks ago, Maple Leaf Sikh saidthat “We often lament the state of our gurdwaras but we should just as often stop and think about how much we have accomplished.” How very true! How often do wehighlight communities where things are working wellfor the Sikh diaspora? Hola12B500x.jpgA recent articletells ushow a small town in Central California, Livingston, is helping tobridge a gap created bya cultural, linguistic and religious divide between generations. Recognizing that language is the link to religion for Sikhs, the sangat in Livingston has ensured that children in the area have the opportunity to attend Punjabi classes and learn the language.

There’s a lasting link between the 35-character alphabet used to write Punjabi and the Sikh religion. The Sikh scriptures and the Punjabi language of many Sikhs were written in a script known as Gurmukhi. So to be fully initiated into the religion, you must know how to read it… Tripat Grewal, who helps teach Punjabi language classes, said that for many Sikhs the fact that their children couldn’t understand what was being said in the temple was at the heart of the effort to create Punjabi-language classes. “The religious part was very important,” she said. [link]

When the space at the local Gurdwara became too cramped, the leaderssecured classroom space at a local elementary school. While these efforts aren’t the first of its kind,it’s always great to hear a community coming together to address a need. For those of us who are familiar with the small towns scattered across central california — these punjabi classes are vital to bridging the divide between generations. With large immigrant populations and many living in joint families – being able to communicate effectively with one another is and will continue to be an important part of the diaspora.

Tripat Grewal said earlier efforts failed for several reasons. Many in the Sikh community are working-class folks, and either aren’t literate in Punjabi themselves or, since they’re recent immigrants, wanted their children to learn English. Kirpal Grewal said the classes in Livingston are part of a larger effort by Sikhs to keep their traditions alive as new generations grow up in the U.S. “This is a movement to revive our culture and language,” he said.

It is also a reminder that as we continue to build new gurdwaras (which we will!) – let’s ensure thatample space is devotedto classrooms so that punjabi can be taught. This should be an integral part of the architecture in each and every gurdwara.


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16 Responses to “Bridging the Divide Between Sikh Generations”

  1. Roop Dhillon says:

    It should not ever be incumbent on the Granthis and Sikh Gurdwaras to teach Punjabi, at worst we will become like Muslm Madrassas, and extremist, at best the kids won't take it seriously and will they really go on to use Punjabi as written and read language in the west? I doubt it.

  2. Roop Dhillon says:

    It should not ever be incumbent on the Granthis and Sikh Gurdwaras to teach Punjabi, at worst we will become like Muslm Madrassas, and extremist, at best the kids won't take it seriously and will they really go on to use Punjabi as written and read language in the west? I doubt it.

  3. Roop Dhillon says:

    continued…

    In UK the parents are forced by good schools to assist their children to read novels and books all the time at home after school and prove that they have done so. This has helped my two boys, both under 10 reach a level in English that my generation never could.

    Now imagine applying that to the Punjabi, that is the Parents take the responsibilty to teach it…I have already began and my boys can reas sign in Gurmukhi in the Gurdwara. The second aspect is speaking as much Punjabi in the home as possible….

    I have even taught myself Gurumukhi and have tried to put it to use…the result is I am one of the few western raised guys who can write in a Creole Like English codified Punjabi, but nevertheless Punjabi. This hobby may even result in me getting things published later..more importantly as my vocab improves, I am more likely to be able to read and understand the Guru Granth Sahib, thus close the generation gap

  4. Roop Dhillon says:

    continued…

    In UK the parents are forced by good schools to assist their children to read novels and books all the time at home after school and prove that they have done so. This has helped my two boys, both under 10 reach a level in English that my generation never could.

    Now imagine applying that to the Punjabi, that is the Parents take the responsibilty to teach it…I have already began and my boys can reas sign in Gurmukhi in the Gurdwara. The second aspect is speaking as much Punjabi in the home as possible….

    I have even taught myself Gurumukhi and have tried to put it to use…the result is I am one of the few western raised guys who can write in a Creole Like English codified Punjabi, but nevertheless Punjabi. This hobby may even result in me getting things published later..more importantly as my vocab improves, I am more likely to be able to read and understand the Guru Granth Sahib, thus close the generation gap

  5. Rana says:

    I see what you mean Roop. It is cool that a western raised Sikh has done what you have. But the problem is really how many Sikhs in the west can even speak Punjabi nowadays, let alone read and write it? WIll they really use Punjabi as their own Literature? Nice if they would, but your real audience is in India, who won't relate to your western experiences.

    Ther are some errors in your your written Punjabi, but a great effort. You have proven that English codified Punjabi as spoken by the few in the west who can, does work on the page. I do think its semantics will be alien to the native Punjabi reader, and worry that the western Sikh who will understand its ideas, won't access it because they can't read and write Gurumukhi

  6. Rana says:

    I see what you mean Roop. It is cool that a western raised Sikh has done what you have. But the problem is really how many Sikhs in the west can even speak Punjabi nowadays, let alone read and write it? WIll they really use Punjabi as their own Literature? Nice if they would, but your real audience is in India, who won't relate to your western experiences.

    Ther are some errors in your your written Punjabi, but a great effort. You have proven that English codified Punjabi as spoken by the few in the west who can, does work on the page. I do think its semantics will be alien to the native Punjabi reader, and worry that the western Sikh who will understand its ideas, won't access it because they can't read and write Gurumukhi

  7. Roop Dhillon says:

    Woah Rana! You seem to be everywhere!! Thanks for your comments. Yes I am Rupinder Dhillon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupinderpal_Singh_Dh

  8. Roop Dhillon says:

    Woah Rana! You seem to be everywhere!! Thanks for your comments. Yes I am Rupinder Dhillon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupinderpal_Singh_Dh

  9. Gagan Singh says:

    Roop Dhillon any reason why you don't use "Kaur" as you last name or at least your middle name? I don't mean to sound rude, but I'm just wondering.

  10. Gagan Singh says:

    Roop Dhillon any reason why you don't use "Kaur" as you last name or at least your middle name? I don't mean to sound rude, but I'm just wondering.

  11. Roop Dhillon says:

    No you are not being rude. Unfortuately for me my name is extremely common. It is in fact Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon. But as I have chosen to enter the world of writing, there are other Rupinderpal Singh Dhillons, so publishers and other writers said I could not be known by the same, and Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon Moga was already well known. SO I have had to get myself use to calling my self Roop. Yeas I could have called myself Singh and drop Dhillon, but guess what, name already taken.

  12. Roop Dhillon says:

    No you are not being rude. Unfortuately for me my name is extremely common. It is in fact Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon. But as I have chosen to enter the world of writing, there are other Rupinderpal Singh Dhillons, so publishers and other writers said I could not be known by the same, and Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon Moga was already well known. SO I have had to get myself use to calling my self Roop. Yeas I could have called myself Singh and drop Dhillon, but guess what, name already taken.

  13. Roop Dhillon says:

    I originally intended to comment under Punjabi Zubane but that has been closed. So this seems next best place. It has been months since I have commented.

    I have now successfully had my book Bharind published in punjabi as spoken and used in UK. I not only urge people to support it by buying it but urge people now is time to learn Gurmukhi and go full swing into understanding our Sikh and Punjabi culture… No excuses http://www.punjabizm.com/forums-ofirstchpnewnovel

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