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Sikh Community providing sweet buttermilk (chabeel) to children

June 23, 2017: People across the world will be treated to free drinks courtesy of the Sikh community this weekend, as diasporas across several nations take part in Chabeel Day on June 24, this year.

Chabeel Day is an international commemoration of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s shaheedi, organized by the UK-based Sikh Press Association (PA). Non-alcoholic drinks (chabeel drinks) will be served to the general public across three continents, eight countries and by hundreds of volunteers.

Chabeel Day Leaflet

The Chabeel tradition, which is still prominent in India, has largely been forgotten by Sikh NRIs, with very few actually being held for the benefit of the general public outside of India. That was until the launch of Chabeel Day in 2015.

Rupinder Kaur, co-founder of the Sikh PA, said the idea of Chabeel Day was one which was behind the very creation of the organization.

One of the aims behind the creation of the Sikh PA was to raise the public profile of the Sikhs.

People from Sikh Community are distributing drinks to celebrate Chabeel Day

“We wanted to make this concept more prominent among Sikhs outside of India. The message we saw that was behind the concept of serving Chabeel was that it is about staying Chardi-kala.”

A public relations campaign that helps further an understanding of Sikh history and philosophy, the concept of Chardi-Kala, a Sikh saying which means “ever rising spirits”, is paramount to Chabeel Day. To get this message across Basics of Sikhi, the Sikh educational organisation known for their YouTube channel explaining the Sikh faith in several languages, created specially made Chabeel Day leaflets.

Basics of Sikhi educator Sukhdeep Singh said, “Basics of Sikhi were behind the concept of Chabeel Day from the beginning, as it’s an easy way to spread education about Sikhi. The leaflet is to ensure that the messages behind the practice of serving chabeel can be put across clearly, which isn’t always easy, considering the story most linked with this tradition.”

The story behind the Chabeel history starts in 1606, when the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, refused to change Sikh religious scriptures as ordered by the tyrannical Mughal Emperor Jahangir, in an effort to curtail the Guru’s growing influence in India. When Guru Arjan Dev Ji refused, He was tortured by being made to sit on a red-hot plate whilst hot sand was poured over him.

Jasveer Singh Gill of the Sikh Press Association said, “Guru Arjan Dev Ji taught Sikhs to accept God’s will as sweet. Therefore, we honour the Guru’s burning by cooling everyone else. This is in line with the Sikh concept of Chardi-Kala, which dictates that one should be eternally optimistic. In today’s climate, we feel spreading Chardi-Kala is more important than ever.”

In 2016 Sikhs of New York held a Chabeel outside a Trump Tower building, leading to many interesting conversations with passersby delighted to be given a free treat.

Mangal Kaur, a Sikh volunteer who has helped organise events in California, said, “Chabeel Day is as simple as it is effective. In the USA Sikhs are often on the end of abuse because of what we look like. A free cooling drink is a great way to break a barrier to start a dialogue, which can help clear any misunderstandings people have about Sikhs.”

Chabeel Day events take place at city centres, schools, colleges, hospitals and more. However, it is not always just chabeel – which refers to rose-water syrup milkshake that is traditionally served – on offer, with water, ice-cream and fizzy drinks often being served instead.

Hunger relief charity Nishkam SWAT (Sikh Welfare Awareness Team) has been one of the front-runners in leading efforts for Chabeel Day since its inception. SWAT volunteer Randeep Singh feels the gesture is a great way to break barriers. “For the last two years, SWAT have taken an ice-cream van into central London, giving away free ice-creams to the public for Chabeel Day. Through this simple gesture, we are able to put a smile on someone’s face and have a chat about why we’re doing it. We speak to hundreds of people and hopefully many of them went away with a bit more understanding about the Sikh faith.

“This year our team will be visiting a hospital in South London, taking treats and toys for the children there. This is how we try to live up to the spirit of Chabeel Day, by both uplifting spirits and educating people at the same time.”

The uplifting factor of connecting with people through offering them a cool refreshment is to be tested in Cyprus for the first time after Basics of Sikhi were asked to come to the Mediterranean nation by local Sikhs.

“We had a message from Sikhs in Cyprus saying that local need education on who Sikhs are. We are aware the Sikh identity can often be conflated with that of an Islamic extremist, something which stems back to pictures of Osama Bin Laden after 9/11.

“Our team decided bringing Chabeel Day to the people of Cyprus would be a great way to teach them about who the Sikhs are, so we hope for some good interaction there this year,” said Sukhdeep Singh.

Denmark’s Sikh community are another group who have taken to Chabeel Day, having last year held an event in central Copenhagen and this year gaining permission to serve free drinks at the nation’s busiest train station.

Hardeep Singh, Copenhagen resident and volunteer, said “The people of Denmark react to our Chabeel Day seva with great warmth and a real open mind. Many people may see Sikhs and not know what our identity represents. So being out in the public, doing our own thing and spreading positivity by interacting with people is an ideal way for people to learn about Sikhs”.

“We are delighted to be part of Chabeel Day 2017 and we hope more people take part in 2018.”


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

India-England test series will now be played next year from July 1 at Edgbaston Stadium

The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.

ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.

"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.

"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.

"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."

"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.