As a parent and Sikh I find it very important for us to have rich and engaging stories from Sikh history to remind us of our heritage. It can be easy to forget the sacrifices that the those before us made and just think about your day to day things. It is important to understand the history so that we can relate to why we live a certain way and practice certain things as Sikhs of the Guru.
As a child I always yearned for more engaging Sikh stories and ways to learn about Sikhi. Even today there are not many options for educating children (other than teaching directly). Just about every other religion has all kinds of multimedia educational materials. From series of videos, to interactive books and DVDs. I think we as a community ought to spend less money on building larger and fancier Gurdwaras and put some of that money into creating more interesting educational materials. Sure…books are great…but in this world of video games, MTV, and Television not many kids read books. The few that do…might not find the books interesting or engaging. I always get frustrated reading some of the kids sikh story books that are so technical and use very difficult words. It just makes me realize how far we have to go in this area. We have to take a fresh view at kids of today.
I used to read the old Indian “Amar Chitra Katha” comic books of Sikh history. I had a huge stack of them and it was great (I still have some which Narayan looks at…since he can’t read yet). Reading these comics now that I am much older I find the dialog of the comics very dry and boring, but as a kid it they were cool comics about my heroes (The Sikh Gurus).
I don’t know of that many people creating educational products for kids. In the past 2 years we have seen a little more in this area with two DVDs – Sunny the Proud Sikh (In English) & Sahibzadey (in Punjabi). This is a good start, but I think there is much more that we all can do if we put our heads together. The Sikh community is so diverse and full of very intelligent and professional people. We as a sangat have the means ($) to do these things, but maybe not the interest or priority. If you ask me…I would say that doing things to educated/inspire each other and the youth is top priority. Anyways, it’s up to us to think about this and pursue these ideas if we feel that it is important to educate our children about Sikhi and live the life that the Gurus taught us. You don’t need thousands of dollars to do something. With creativity, some skill, and seva from others, all kinds of things could be done.
I sometimes wonder if the issue or portraying the Sikh Gurus in a visual way (pictures, video) is the major blocking point for doing some of these projects. We know there is no real way to factually represent the Gurus properly in a realistic sense…but I don’t think that should be a stopping point. We have to be able to stop looking at these things in such a critical way….and realize there is a tasteful way to do multimedia from Sikh history.
I think it would be awesome to have movies/videos about Sikh history and have real actors. It may not be totally realistic and controversial, but it will still educate, and is much better than what kids watch on TV these days. We have to open our minds to explore the possibilities.
I started this post with just wanting to write two lines about the video “Miracle of Baisakhi” and look what came out. *sigh* hahaha…. I guess that is what a journal is for.
For the past 4 years Some of our local Sangat have put together video stories in an effort to educate and inspire the sangat during Baisakhi time. These videos are normally shown at the grand Baisakhi celebration in Los Angeles, California every year. Here is one of those videos. More to come tomorrow.