Creating Inspiring & Educational Media for Kids

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.

This is all food for thought. I love doing this stuff and am always interesting in working with others that have an idea and want to make it happen.

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.

The Miracle of Baisakhi

The below video was put together by Shanti Kaur Khalsa and narrated by Guru Tej Singh and Sat Nirmal Kaur from Espanola, New Mexico.

Download: Video (16.1MB) /Audio (10.3MB)

11 Responses to “Creating Inspiring & Educational Media for Kids”

  1. Fateh ji,
    I totally agree with you brother. I was so happy when my sons saw sunny the proud sikh DVD and then asking me so many questions about sikhi. What made me more happy was when I asked him to join with me in doing seva and he was doing it with full joy. We really need this kind of stuff to teach kids they can be the heros to our kids better than the cartoons there are watching nowadays that is full of nonsense stuff. We all have to join hand and get our kids our future on the right path.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a great initiative, much appreciated and much needed for the depleting knowledge of our youth

    [email protected]

  3. I loved the Amrit Chitra Katha comic books when I was a kid. I don’t know whether they have stopped publishing them?

    I think we definately need more comic books illustrating Sikh history.

    Guru Rakha.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i believe that Parminder Singh of Guru Nanak Academy made some colouring books of the life of Guru Nanak Ji.

  5. SikhsRus says:

    Gurmustuk Ji,

    It is a great idea! I don’t think Gursikhs would be offended and would object as long as Sikh history, present and future is presented in a positive manner and not some bollywood or hollywood director or performer or cartoonist or writer etc. trying to do it for personal or political gains or creating hatred out of ignorance. People probably won’t care if Sikh or a non-sikh is playing a part of Sikh or directing a movie etc. as long as it is presented correctly and positively. Movies like “Manjeete Jagjeet, Nanak Naam Jahaz hai” etc. come to mind. As far as people portraying or playing roles of Sikh Gurus in a video or movie or presenting Sikhi or Gurdwara in a negative manner (movie Bole So Nihaal, play Behzti)come to mind, that probably would offend some people, to what degree and type of reaction, it is really hard to tell. Overall, I beleive Sikhs are a pretty patient people given the tough and rough history.

  6. simran singh says:

    what you have said is very true, some initiative must and can be taken to make films with sikh themes….yes there might be controversies but that should not prevent anyone from going ahead with it, after all people did make serials like the mahabharat with actors and those serials were widely accepted…i myself am working in the film industry in mumbai and am very keen to do a sikh themed project, with the advcent of digital technology film making is not as expensive as it used to be…i have just started blogging, please do read my story if you have the time…your comments would be precious

  7. Waheguru Ji Ka khalsa
    Waheguru Ji Kai Fateh

    I had always dreamed of making short films on the lifes of Our Guru’s and the sikhi way of life kind of like low budget do it yourself movie but as usual before things get of the ground, A few so called Sikhi experts will give you a lecture on why we cannot have anyone potray the guru and stuff like that. I have been trying to animate with Flash for a while now. Well with Guruji’s Blessings i hope to have a short animated film by end of the Year like the one our Veerji did for the SHote Sahibzadde. I hope more talented sikhs out there can start making animation or films about Sikhi and our Guru’s.

  8. It’s great to hear that there is interest in doing educational movies or media.

    Indy, Everyone has their own opinion on things and you just have to listen to your heart and do what you honestly feel is right. If the media serves to inspire and educate than to me that is enough. We cannot expect it to be really like the guru.

    I look forward to seeing your project!

  9. SikhsRus says:

    I just listened to the video for the first time. It is really wonderfully done. The Vaisakhi story has been told in a very inspiration manner. More please!! and Thank you.

  10. Khalsa4ever says:

    I totally agree with you on the need for us to more openly display our Gurus in multimedia type movies to increase their exposure. Its difficult to tell a story about our Guru Sahibs if they can’t play a part!

    Hopefully though, with these new animated movies starting to come out, we can start moving towards spreading the stories of our gurus to Sikhs and non-sikhs alike.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sat Sri Akal:

    Back many years ago, there was a plan to make a movie on Maaraja Ranjit Singh (again, way back, not the recent effort by Raj Babbar). When the idea was announced, a LOT of people objected, saying that such a great soul cannot be protrayed by a mere actor.

    I bring this up as a reality check…if anyone does propose to make a movie on the Gurus, it would be in that person’s best interest to make sure that the Sikh community is ok with it…otherwise, there will be many protests and a lot of objection, even if your intentions are the best.

    You may take a look at the commentary by Mangal Dhillon in the Khalsa DVD and he states that one of the challenges of making the DVD was not using an actor for Guru Gobind Singh…such a challenge would not have been present if there was not any objection…which there obviously was.

    Now animation is a separate issue…but still, it would be best to make sure that the Sikh community is behind you.

    Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade…but an ounce of warning avoids a ton of beatings.