Monday January 22, 2018

Art exhibit to spread awareness about Sikh identity in the US

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NEW DELHI: Even after fifteen years of the 9/11 tragedy, Sikhs in the US feel they are more likely to face profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American because of the two distinct symbols of their identity-the beard and the turban.

To spread better awareness about their religion, a new Sikh art exhibit will be held in New York later this year to showcase the pride taken by the community in their religious and cultural practices.

UK-based photographers Amit and Naroop will click portraits of Sikh Americans under ‘The Sikh Project’ mounted by The Sikh Coalition. These portraits will be unveiled around the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

The Coalition is the largest Sikh American advocacy and community development organisation in the US and works towards the realisation of civil and human rights for all people, particularly Sikhs.

After their critically acclaimed exhibit in the UK, the two photographers, who are proud of their Sikh heritage, said they are “very excited” about their upcoming exhibition.

“We are very excited! In the US, it will serve as an educational piece as well as an art project as the awareness of the Sikh identity is still misunderstood; so we are hoping it will have a wider impact,” the two photographers said in an email interview from New York.

The photography exhibit, which explores the beauty, style and symbolism of the Sikh articles of faith, will include both turbaned men and women and will feature a combination of iconic Sikh Americans and a few selected winners.

Speaking about how the idea of ‘The Sikh Project’ came to them, the two photographers said it was in 2013 that it struck them when they “noticed men of different backgrounds and ages growing beards for fashion, as part of their identity”.

“Being Sikh photographers, we wanted to show them that in our culture, the beard has been a part of the Sikh identity for hundreds of years,” they said.

They said their UK exhibition got “overwhelming response” and was “appreciated” and “respected” for its message and the way it was executed.

“The content and context resonated with people from different backgrounds as it is not just about Sikhs; it’s about pride for your identity.”

The two want their latest project to “stand up to the UK Singh Project and if anything do even better than it”.

“In the UK, we have witnessed how powerful art can be in positively educating the broader public about the Sikh community. We can’t wait to begin photographing the Sikh American experience and sharing those stories with the world as well.”

Amit and Naroop, in partnership with The Sikh Coalition, are currently casting for additional photography candidates and are asking turbaned Sikh Americans of all ages and genders to take part in this groundbreaking project. The deadline for the entry is May 1.

Related: The spirited journey of Canadian Sikhs

According to the Coalition’s Executive Director Sapreet Kaur, “The goal with bringing this project to the United States is the opportunity to combat bigotry by sharing a positive narrative of Sikhs in America through portraits and the incredible stories behind them.”

The Coalition was founded by volunteers on the night of September 11, 2001, in response to a torrent of violent attacks against Sikh Americans in the US.

Talking about the response of their subjects, the two photographers said it has been “fantastic”.

“The subjects involved have seen the success we have had, so they are excited to be involved. It’s the complete opposite of the UK Singh project as nobody wanted to be involved at first and it took a while for it to build momentum.”

They strongly feel that such an exhibition will help in showing the Sikh community in the US in a positive light and help fight the bigotry they face in their daily lives.

“Each one of the subjects has a story to tell, which will sit alongside the portrait. Some are positive, some are more dramatic, but through the stories, visitors of the exhibition will get to learn what it means to be an American Sikh, both in identity and also in spirit.”

 When asked whether the exhibition will help in highlighting the importance of the beard and turban, an important article of faith of the Sikh community. they said that they believed it would.The project, they said, is a fusion of their Sikh heritage and British upbringing.
 “It is traditional in content but the execution is modern and contemporary. Hopefully this has allowed it to spread to a wider audience. Has it been successful? It’s hard to judge. People have to be open to learn and understand other faiths and identities. All we can do is to try our best to spread the message. From the response we have had, it appears to have done the job, but there are always more people to reach.” (IANS)
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Analysis of Ancient Aliens show on History Channel

Sometimes it looks likes the show is phony and fake. Many times it seems that they take a small point and turn it into a mammoth thing assuming that extraterrestrials were behind it.

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Ancient Aliens is one of the most famous shows of the History Channel. Wikimedia Commons
Ancient Aliens is one of the most famous shows of the History Channel. Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Bharti Raizada
A few weeks back, somehow I stumbled upon a show, on History channel, called Ancient Aliens.
After watching a couple of episodes, I think the show is trying to convey the following points:
Are aliens really real ? The show tries to answer the question, Pixabay
Are aliens really real ? The show tries to answer the question, Pixabay
1. Ancient civilizations were not able to do anything and they had no scientific knowledge, they were not able to build megalithic structures. Extraterrestrials came to earth and gave them the knowledge and also built things for them. They taught them science, mathematics, technology etc.
2. They even give the impression that all over the world, the government and high profile people are still in contact with extraterrestrials but all of them are trying to hide it from the public for some unknown reason and they all are able to keep it to themselves.
3. Gods may be extraterrestrial beings. They are very advanced scientifically and have very high tech spaceships and weapons. These beings came many times and at many places on earth. They interacted with different cultures. They want to control humans.
4. ET’s are continuously keeping an eye on humans.
5. They are guiding us on a specific path.
6. They keep coming and going back from this planet Earth. Initially, they came to mine Gold as their own planet was getting depleted of Gold.
7. They have lived with us and maybe living with us now. They also mate with humans. Very brilliant children on earth are the result of mating between aliens and humans.
8. They can wipe us out with weapons or diseases e.g. plagues.
9. Whole earth may be a scientific lab.
10. Aliens are doing some genetic experiment on us. All species of humans were created as an experiment and when the experiment did not go in the right direction, whole species e.g. Neanderthals, hominids etc were wiped out.
11. Time cycle on earth keeps repeating itself. Similar to a clock.
12. Our planet is a hologram. There is knowledge everywhere in the atmosphere. We just need to know how to get it. In very deep meditation probably we can get this knowledge which is in a code form. Many discoveries and inventions were by people who got this knowledge suddenly e.g. Nikola Tesla, Baba Vanga, Ramanujan etc.
13. Different religions/ cultures/civilizations have many common events e.g. great flood, the appearance of God or his messenger, working towards making  Gods or ET’s happy, concept of nine gods or counsel of nine, demigods, and primordial sea etc.
14. Many temples all over the earth still have some secret areas, wealth etc. which are not open to the public. Some of these are guarded by military and are considered very dangerous to go even nearby. Some people who tried to go in these areas fell very sick and died or never came back.
15. UFO is a real phenomenon. Many countries have secret labs where they are studying crashed UFO’s and captured aliens.
Aliens have bases on many planets, including ours. Pixabay
Aliens have bases on many planets, including ours. Pixabay

16. ET’s have bases on many of the planets including ours. They are present on Earth’s poles and other places on earth as well as inside earth. There are many layers inside the earth where vast cities of aliens exist.

17. There are living beings/life in space and on other planets. Some living beings live in extremes of temperatures or extremes of other conditions. There are beings who die if exposed to oxygen, some die in water, some die without water. There are living organisms on meteors, asteroids etc.
18. Shivling’s central pillar like part represents an energy storage equipment or atomic area. Surrounding part of the pillar is for waste materials to come out. Water is offered at the top of the pillar, like in nuclear reactors, to cool it down.
19. Kailash temple in Ajanta and Allora caves was built by ET’s using very high tech equipment which was capable of evaporating all ruble.
Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves is also said to be a creation of ET. Wikimedia Commons
Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves is also said to be a creation of ET. Wikimedia Commons
20. Underneath an Indian temple is an extensive tunnel system going to an underground structure where some beings sit on levitating thorns. Indian Government does not allow anyone to go near it.
21. Below another Indian temple, there is a door made of iron which has no locks. It is closed by mantras and no one dares to open it.
Is it really possible for US to have a military base at the moon? Pixabay
Is it really possible for US to have a military base at the moon? Pixabay
22. They say the US has a military base on the moon and that the moon is artificial and aliens have hollowed it out and have a city inside it.
23. There is a galactic war also.
24. Aliens abduct humans and do experiments on them. There are incidences where they took away the fetus from mother’s womb. Abductees describe these aliens as grey people and they feel paralyzed but are conscious during abduction period. Some abductees come back and some do not. There are instances where the whole village or group of people vanished from the earth.
25. There are giants, like Big Foot, living in woods. They smell like Sulphur, make loud sounds and elope very fast. They are doing some secret work for ET’s or are left here, on planet earth, for wrong or criminal activity on other planets.
Some points, which I don’t understand by watching Ancient Aliens, are…
1. First of all, if the aliens helped us building these mega structures like Machu Pichuu or the temple of Baalbek, then why did they take away the knowledge from us and why are they not helping us or building their own structures presently?
2. If they were so high tech, what happened to all of their creations? Why is everything in ruins now? Why we have to dig to find those structures now?
3. If they are living on other planets, what was the need to come to Earth and build things, is this not extra labor for them. And if they like Earth so much that they help us build things, then why don’t they live here?
4. They say that sometimes aliens give us knowledge and help us build thing but other times they say that aliens want to control us, destroy us and spread diseases like plagues. Is this not contradictory?
5. The makers of the show have themselves not seen any extraterrestrials, so their theories are based purely on imagination and have no scientific proof behind them.
There seems to be no concrete proof of the facts shown in the show to be true. Pixabay
There seems to be no concrete proof of the facts shown in the show to be true. Pixabay

6. They never bring mainstream scientist and archeologist on the show and interview them or ask their opinions, thus making people believe only their own opinion.

7. They keep repeating the same phrases and believe that by saying it repeatedly it will come true.
8. In one of the episodes, they say that deep inside a big structure and that it was very dark and there was no way to use lamps as there was not enough oxygen inside. Another said that he went there and tried to light his lighter but because of very low oxygen levels lighter was not lighting up. He forgot that he was breathing okay in that area of very low oxygen and came back alive with no consequences of low oxygen levels.
Sometimes it looks like their show is phony and fake. Many times it seems that they take a very small point and turn it into a mammoth thing and assume that extraterrestrials were behind that. Maybe they are fabricating some points.
Just to mention that many of Ancient Aliens Theorists do not have a degree in archaeology, history, religion, ancient language etc.
At some other times, it seems that their theory makes sense. As there are no explanations till now of many historical events, structures, knowledge etc., this theory at least tries to give some sense to these. These people are just postulating theories. They are not claiming that their theory is 100% true. If you believe that they are spreading lies then why no one ever sued them and History Channel.
Overall the show is very entertaining, educative, and addictive.