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Jaadugar -
Magician Extraordinaire

by NEHA SINGH GOHIL

 

You've heard of Harry Houdini and David Copperfield, I'm sure.

But how about Vikram Singh Khalsa?

At a time when most guys are obsessed with sports, cars, girls, and little else, seventeen-year-old Vikram is managing his burgeoning career as Northern California's newest magician.

Donning a black keski and crisp matching suit, Vikram recently entertained a hall full of folks at an event sponsored by the Punjabi Heritage Society. He charmed the audience with card tricks, vanishing handkerchiefs and unlocking metal rights. His favorite trick, though, is the floating dollar bill.

"People always guess all these different theories of how I do that trick, and I can prove them all wrong", Vikram muses. Not to mention, a crumpled dollar bill suspended in mid-air looks amazing to any audience! That said, even Vikram's introductions have a certain flair  -  he often sets his business cards on fire as he pulls them out of his wallet to hand to potential clients!

For all his showmanship, though, Vikram is a shy guy. He prefers performing for small groups, and spends a lot of his time teaching himself new tricks or perfecting his act. Being a magician has helped him break out of his shell. He has friends in a variety of social cliques, and Vikram has made it his job to talk to people who seldom talk to each other.

His magic has also helped ease the pressure of being the only turban-wearing kid in the neighborhood. "People don't think of me as that kid with the turban or the kid who stands out, because I have my something to be social with", Vikram explains.

Vikram's first brush with magic happened at the "ripe old age" of six. In kindergarten, his principal showed the class a trick, using Vikram as her assistant. She told him to copy exactly what she did, but, as Vikram remembers, "when she opened her hand, the handkerchief was gone, and when I opened mine, it was still there".

He came home the same day and told his parents that he would be a magician, and he'd learn how to do that trick himself. Years later, with the help of a family friend who would bring Vikram a new magic trick every time they met, Vikram managed to do it.

His first performance was at a Sikh youth camp at the Fremont Gurdwara in California last summer. Since then, Vikram has entertained scores of people at birthday parties, gurdwara functions, and even at the San Francisco chapter of The Spinning Wheel Film Festival.

As his popularity spreads, Vikram is looking for ways to incorporate Sikhism into his show. For example, he's thinking about using saakhis to accompany some of his tricks -  if he does a trick where five balls turn into a single one, he can link it to the Sikh idea of  the One True God. An audience of Sikh youth may understand more about the religion if they see it in a way they can relate to, Vikram thinks.

"If I can entertain them, I feel I should try to teach them something at the same time".

But magic isn't the only thing on Vikram's plate. Getting through his daily schedule involves a bit of conjuring of its own. Vikram plays tabla, attends kirtans every weekend, started college two years early, blogs, and even has time left over to create some electronic art.

At seventeen, he is already a sophomore in college, majoring in Electrical Engineering, and always looking for new ways to put his digital skills to use. His website (http://www.vikramkhalsa.com/) is regularly updated with step-by-step guides for household projects  -  from building a table with LED lights, to creating a khanda-shaped cursor for your computer.

Still, it's his magic that brings these skills together. Being a Sikh makes him unique, both as a Sikh and as a magician, Vikram says. His turban and beard add to the overall effect of his performance, making it all the more memorable. And in case you ever want an instant replay, you can find it in the scores of photos, videos, and interviews available on his website.

So, does Vikram really believe in magic? Not the kind you see on stage, he says. Instead, Vikram believes in the enchantment of the Guru's word. "Magic isn't about cutting yourself in half and putting yourself back together. But spiritual powers  -  that would be real cool!"

 

Conversation about this article

1: Tejwant (U.S.A.), August 24, 2007, 4:51 PM.

Vikram Singh Khalsa on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omi9ZmKvO3w

2: D.J.Singh (U.S.A.), August 25, 2007, 4:23 AM.

Who is the true magician? The accomplished child, the pious parents or the divine light that guides us all! May God bless Vikram in his endeavour to learn more about the magic of spirituality!

3: R. Kaur (Chandigarh, Punjab, India), September 02, 2007, 5:33 AM.

"Magic" can be very useful as a spiritual metaphor. Guru Nanak's real magic was to turn slaves into sovereign beings. So, the ultimate magic is in bringing a change in our very mindset. Wish you all the luck.

4: Kaur (Finland), September 07, 2007, 9:45 PM.

He is so awesome! I agree with and endorse all of the above.

5: Pargat Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), January 26, 2008, 2:04 PM.

Wow, I never knew he was that big. I meet this guy every Sunday at the Gurdwara. I have been to two of his shows and he is just amazing.

6: Blake (Florida, U.S.A.), August 03, 2008, 2:35 PM.

Teach me ... I'll do anything to be able to pursue this dream.

7: Kawal Singh (France), February 15, 2011, 2:23 PM.

Wah ... really amazing.

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Magician Extraordinaire"









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