Ik Chota Bacha & Other Sikh Nursery RhymesCD & Book Review by GURMEET KAUR
I called my friend Inni Kaur one day - I reach out to her when I need practical solutions to Sikhi-related resources. Our conversation went like this:
“Bhenji, I need kids’ songs with Sikhi messages to sing to baby Liv Kaur. I have a great collection in English which Angad Singh grew up on, but I need more Punjabi. I need lullabies, songs, rhymes, and poems … all of it!"
Inni Kaur has had an answer or direction to everything I have asked of her so far. She didn’t disappoint me this time around either.
“It’s on its way. Part of it, at least. Wait for a couple of months”.
Exactly two months later, I had Kikli Kids’ CD and booklet - "Ik Chota Bacha & Other Sikh Nursery Rhymes" show up at my doorstep.
The quality of its contents already showed from the packaging; it had me excited instantly. An appealing CD cover with an accompanying bilingual booklet with the lyrics of all 10 songs, vividly illustrated to match the message imbibed in the songs, whetted my appetite.
I recalled the time when my first one was little. We, the parents in the diaspora, had practically no readily available resources such as these to enrich our little saint-soldiers. We made our own kavitas and songs. If they were any good, we shared them with other parents and prepared our kids in the Sunday Gurmat School for annual Vaisakhi performances.
Things have mercifully changed for the better in the last few years.
‘Ik Chota Bacha & Other Sikh Nursery Rhymes’ joins the children’s treasure chest of inspiring and innovative media resources with a strong Sikh message. However, it is the first in its class of nursery rhymes in the Punjabi language.
This album is a collection of ten kavitas that are set to the tune of popular western children’s songs. Song titles include “Sikhi Meri Jaan Hai," "Chote Bache Sach Bole," and "Sach Kahinaa.” Each of the ten songs carries a unique message that aims to share important aspects of Sikh teachings with younger generations in a fun way.
And a way that is addictive.
It took me but one round of playing the CD to start humming the songs to my little one. She too was fixated at the pictures in the booklet. First off, the songs are written with simple language and messages. Then, the tunes are the ones children and the parents are very familiar to. Add to it, celestial voices and a wonderful music. To make the words comprehensible, there is the book to read along both in Gurmukhi and English.
The correlation in the theme from English to Punjabi is bright – for example, ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ renders itself to – ‘Chamkila chhota taara ey’. By the time I got to ‘Yankee Doodle’ – with little voices chanting ‘Sikhi Sikhi Zindabaad’, I had goose bumps. And a couple of tears rolled down my cheeks.
I had to learn more and share this gift with you all.
Every year in the month of July, a special program is held in Los Angeles - called The Sikh Children's Day that is organized by Ujjaldidar Singh Memorial Foundation (USMF), in the loving memory of the Gursikh young man who passed on at a tender age of 16. This day comprises of various competitions in kirtan, tabla, speech, kavitas, turban-tying, gatka, etc. Many years ago, Jagdeep Singh, a dedicated father of two young girls, who works with the Foundation, started writing poems for the children in the community so that they could participate in the program.
About two and a half years ago, Jagdeep and friends presented his kavita, "Ik Chota Bacha" at a Sikh education conference in New Jersey and the audience was enchanted. They pushed for a CD; this work was too precious to be hidden. Although Jagdeep was playing with the idea for a while, this time, he heeded to the sangat’s call.
He already had the poems, now it was a matter of finding the right illustrator, voices and music to bring them to life both in audio and visual format. He and Harliv Kaur of the Foundation set out on the mission to make this happen.
The team collected by Jagdeep Singh and Harliv Kaur consisted of about 25 individuals, and each of them contributed significantly in the production of “Ik Chota Bacha & Other Sikh Nursery Rhymes.” The book has been illustrated in full color by Arshveen Kaur Gadhok, an up-and-coming artist based in Vancouver, Canada. Ravpreet Singh provided art and design direction for the entire project, and Simran Jeet Singh, a Ph.D Candidate in Religion at Columbia University, meticulously reviewed and edited the Gurmukhi and English text.
The team auditioned the children at USMF for vocals. 20 children of 3 – 16 years of age were selected. They dedicated many weekends for rehearsals and studio recordings under the musical direction of Tej Singh Gill. Tej didn’t just produce the music – “he worked with music to create magic”, says Harliv Kaur.
Two years of community collaboration later, the team saw ‘kavitas’ take a life of their own, as they progressed from the initial sketches to final illustrations, from music rendition to recording ... all culminating in a beautiful album and book.
Through this work, the team at Kikli Kids and USMF have attempted to share the Sikh values that they feel are important to be absorbed by our little ones.
Simple ideals such as being truthful, remembering Waheguru, being fearless, and respecting elders, are introduced effortlessly and playfully.
But what is impressive is that complex messages such as getting rid of vices – ego, anger, greed, fear and even materialism, are presented with relevant illustrations in such a way that will make sense to even the little ones. "Row Row Row your boat" becomes ‘Jah Jah Haume jah, mere kol naa aa”.
With some parental involvement and imagination this combo can become a fun and inspiring teaching tool. I can visualize little kids illustrating the scenarios of jealousy, pride and limitless wants in everyday life to this song while humming it. What they can do with all of these ten beautiful songs is beyond imagination.
All in fun, at the end of it, our children will have soaked the concept of these values with their Punjabi names. So imagine when they come across references to these virtues and vices in gurbani next time, they can instantly relate.
I cannot help but feel elated at introducing such a magnificent product to the parents who hunger for resources such as these.
The book and CD were launched at an USMF event where the team showcased their proud work live for the audience on April 30, 2011 in Canoga Park, California, U.S.A.
I hope this book and CD will be well received by the Sikh community with all the chardi kala that was put into it and will become a resource that both families and Khalsa Schools will be able to use for all times to come. I personally look forward to many more poems, songs and lullabies for my little one. I know I will not let any such treasures pass me by.
For now, I am hooked on to the ‘Chamkila Chhota Taara’ that I sing to my ‘Ik Chota Bacha’ in the night.
Both the book and CD are part of the package that is available for US $15 at www.kiklikids.comMay 21, 2011
Conversation about this article
1: Sandeep Kaur (California, U.S.A.), May 21, 2011, 12:22 PM.
I listened to the song samples on the Kikli website. What a wonderful and professional project! Thank you, Kikli and Ujjaldidar Singh Memorial Foundation for putting this together. I cannot wait to share it with my nieces and nephews!
2: Satmeet Kaur (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), May 21, 2011, 5:36 PM.
What a wonderful initiative!
3: Kuljeet (Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.), May 21, 2011, 10:49 PM.
I love the samples! The songs are catchy and very good messages for our children. This is great work. Kudos To Kikli!
4: Kiran Kaur (Texas, U.S.A.), May 22, 2011, 8:44 AM.
I am so grateful to the team at Kikli and USMF that made this happen. Thank you very much! I only wish I had books like this when I was young, to help me learn Punjabi, Gurmukhi and Sikh values. I can't wait to get my copy. Please keep up the good work.
5: Amarpreet Singh Malik (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), May 23, 2011, 10:21 PM.
I have been waiting for something like this since my 2-year old son was born. Finally, Gurdaas can listen to and learn Punjabi nursery rhymes along with the English ones.
6: Preet Singh (Granada Hills, California, U.S.A. ), June 06, 2011, 5:58 PM.
Absolutely loved the illustrations and the rhymes! I'm definitely getting the "Adopt-a-Box" program that Kiklikids.com is offering so I can spread word of this great project to my friends and family. I have heard great things about USMF and Kikli and this project is definitely a result of their hard work and talented kids. Thank you!
7: Gurchit Singh (Carrey Ranch, California, U.S.A.), June 08, 2011, 9:00 PM.
I'm 16 years old and even I get a kick out of listening to this!
8: Barinder Kaur (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 01, 2011, 3:40 AM.
We received this as a holiday gift from my brother, who is always looking for books like these for his son. I attempted to read a few nursery rhymes to my 3-year old but she wasn't that interested so I put it away for later. Months later my daughter was in my brother's car and he had the CD playing and she just loved it! I immediately dug out my CD and let's just say when the kids are in the car we don't listen to anything else. She sings along to every song! My 1-year old puts up his fingers and dances with a big toothy grin. Amazing efforts and amazing results. Thank you!
9: Inderpal Singh (India), March 19, 2012, 6:52 AM.
Ik Chotta Bacha" bahut achhi kavita hai. Please - mainu hore kavitavaa(n) kitho(n) pdf vich mil sakde hun?