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This Vaisakhi,
I Celebrate My Homeland,





‘Dude, the whole world has seen this. Slow …’ types my brother-in-law, via messenger, from halfway across the world.

I had sent him a video of Vaisakhi Greetings from Justin Trudeau, leader of Canada’s Liberal party and our current Prime Minister.

Why did I forward him this video? To him, my parents, my parents-in-law, my brothers, and even shared it as my Facebook post?

Admittedly, I’m not given to giddy displays of anything. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau’s message touched some chord deep and lingering. I realized I had never before been wished Happy Vaisakhi by any leader or head of state.

I have been an Indian for most of my life. Sikhs are the largest minority in India. Our history is scrupulously interlaced into the weave of Indian history. In fact, India got her independence by giving up Punjab, her most powerful state.

Yet I cannot recall eagerly waiting to hear an address by any Prime Minster or President of India. Even close friends never wished me. And if someone did, it felt odd. All things related to Sikhi were firmly private in the former ‘homeland‘.

It’s a joke in our family that I must be the only Indian who took over a decade to give up her Indian passport for a Canadian identity. It was a five-year campaign, spear-headed by my daughter who was initiated when she must have been barely three, the age when she first learnt the Canadian national anthem in school.

Deeply satisfied her father was Canadian like her, she was horrified to learn I was an Indian - “Why? Mama, why?”

She had brought forth arguments, some hard to refute, some harder to bypass, some downright funny and some that made that special kind of nonsensical logic that only kids can come up with.

“Our national anthem sounds better than yours,” she said, nodding knowingly.

I suppose she does know better. In her little life of nine years she has sung it regularly, in both state languages - English and French.

When I got my Canadian citizenship two years ago, she said to me, “You won’t regret it.”

I laughed. Regrets are part of letting go, darling, but you have yet to understand that.

It’s a strange feeling to watch Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledge Sikh-Canadians and their rich role in Canadian history. He is a politician, he knows his job ,,, well!  And, for that I am grateful.

Because I can, and showed my nine-year old this video. I can tell and show her how the Canadian Parliament has hosted an akhand paatth, and a public service to celebrate Vaisakhi.

And when she goes to the gurdwara tomorrow morning, she will not be celebrating Vaisakhi alone.

She is not ‘a Sikh in Canada‘. She is one that belongs here. This is her homeland. She is a proud Sikh-Canadian.

And why shouldn’t she be? After all, our Prime Minister can correctly pronounce the word ‘Sikh,’ and knows his people’s history - “Vaisakhi commemorates Guru Gobind Singh’s creation of the Khalsa Panth!”

Please CLICK here to watch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Vaisakhi Greetings.

The author, a resident of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a mother of a precious nine-year old.

April 12, 2016


Conversation about this article

1: Kiran Sandhu (Facebook), April 13, 2016, 2:11 AM.

This is why our loyalty should lie with Canada instead of India. While Canada wants to apologize for something that happened over a century ago, India expects us to move on from their unspeakable actions 30 years ago, and continuing. Laughing at orphans and broken families, it's been 30 years. Move on?

2: Harjit Kaur Sanghera (Facebook), April 13, 2016, 2:16 AM.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Kiran. So very true. Sikhs are given the utmost respect here in Canada, compared to 'motherland' India.

3: Ari Singh (Burgas, Bulgaria), April 13, 2016, 4:48 PM.

For a day, part of the Canadian Parliament was converted into a gurdwara. What more can we ask?!

4: Tony Singh (Canada), April 14, 2016, 7:24 PM.

The anti-Sikh elements in the Indian establishment made a stupid move in assaulting the Harmandar Sahib in 1984. That attack made the vast majority of Sikhs in the diaspora re-think their attachment to India and many of them have been working actively ever since to counter the mischief unleashed against the community. Had the Indian establishment not been blinded by its jealousy and hatred of Sikhs, they could have relied on Sikhs across the world to promote Indian interests in their adopted countries, much like the Jewish diaspora works tirelessly in advancing the interests of Israel.

5: G J Singh (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA), April 18, 2016, 12:51 AM.

Time to move to Canada, with the likes of Trump et al in the mix running for President. Regardless, Americans will always be ignorant and bigoted. Nothing can change that.

6: GC Singh (USA), April 18, 2016, 11:13 AM.

In a kneejerk reaction to the great celebration of Vaisakhi in the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, the Indian Government seems to have suffered a massive jealousy attack. Indian agencies and communal and complicit Hindu media has conjured up the images of a "terrorist plot" and pumped up its vitriolic propaganda against Canada's Sikhs by "creatively' linking Sikh-Canadians with ISIL of Syria and Iraq with cooked-up stories of an imminent attack on New Delhi. Reports being strategically 'leaked' out of New Delhi tell us that the President Parnab Mukherji and Prime Minister Modi are hiding in a bomb-proof bunker and all emergency systems are on red alert in New Delhi!

7: Birti Kaur (New Delhi, India), April 18, 2016, 11:48 AM.

Yup! Don't be surprised if you soon read about a so-called 'terrorist' attack in India and its 'intelligence agencies' immediately point a finger at a mysterious 'phoren' hand! These nincompoops in power here are one-trick ponies. Mercifully, western governments fully know of India's ongoing mischief-making and shenanigans. Sadly, however, the media is lazy and will do little to sift through the smoke and seek out the facts. But I'm confident that any further mischief by this my country is bound to explode in their own faces, trust me.

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I Celebrate My Homeland,

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