Who are you, and what do you do?
Who I am today took some years to grow into. I can now accept and embrace my authentic nature as an artist in the world. I am comfortable with it, find joy in it, know the high emotional value it brings to the world and I can now freely act on this God-given talent. I believe I have earned the title writer because I now honor the courage it takes for an individual to commit to this act of trusting the imagination.
What is your story?
I’m enjoying a joyful new-born stage as a self-respecting artist, life partner, mother, and community member. The self-respect as an artist manifested when I risked respecting myself as a woman in this world in my mid-twenties. Reconnecting to Wahe Guru gave me the strength to openly reject the notions, judgments, and story-making the world created about women and take charge of writing my own life narrative. I believe our spiritual framework demands that each Sikh acts on his/her God-given destiny and power to make the world a better place. As a woman, it becomes critical to listen to this voice, this intuition, let it grow and manifest inside to live out the dream Wahe Guru has put forth.
What are some things you like and cherish about your community?
The loving nature and hospitality of Punjabi Sikhs is like no other. I have had the good fortune of meeting family and community members who genuinely love other human beings so much, they are ready to offer their homes, their financial resources, their emotional support to ensure that someone outside of them succeeds. It is a reflection of abundance and generosity in spirit.
Our collective imagination needs to open up to re-conceiving the position of women in households and larger society. When women evaluate and judge themselves and other women according to a societal framework built by men, perceptions are distorted and negate the rich inner-lives women possess as mothers, professionals, artists, and leaders. There is a natural brilliance, creativity and compassion that lives inside each woman and tapping into that power, nurturing it, and honoring it makes the world a more balanced and gentler place to live. Some of this is already taking place, but I’d like to see more of it in Sikh households and communities.
When we give women the room to own their full capacity and power and have men understand how critical their roles are as partners and fathers in supporting this critical growth in girls and women, the family unit is that much more powerful. We have to ask ourselves what is the purpose here in these family households we create – is our purpose to nurture and cultivate Sikhs? If the answer is yes, the answer demands that girls and women are part of the equation with the notion that Sikh women could be the next generation of political leaders standing side by side with their brothers on behalf of the Panth.
I’d like to see those deeply honest though tough conversations take place within households amongst life partners, parents and children, woman to woman, man to man that give all members of a Sikh household by extension, larger society the space to honor themselves as individuals and creative powerful human beings. Those tough but honest conversations plant the seeds for trust, support, and faith in one another.
As a mother, I had to step back and see my children as separate from me and honor and respect who they are at a very young age; beings with thoughts, ideas, goals, dreams and free-will. I am not here to dictate who they are going to be as people, I am here to support their individual growth as human beings defining themselves. At the same time, I have to nurture my own growth as a creative being side by side my children and husband. Part of that inspiration comes from Sikhi.
I believe the Gurus had amazing imaginations to socially engineer the blueprints they laid out for society. I believe they passed on that powerful imagination as a birth right to each Sikh that is alive today to imagine the absolute best for one’s life while taking great responsibility to not harm others or be harmed along the way. I believe we have to tap into how the Gurus lived during their lifetimes and emulate that mindset so we achieve what we need to achieve in all realms of living in laying the groundwork for future generations.
What is your advice for youngsters who want to follow your profession?
If you have a need to express yourself, trust it and act on it.
Trust what you have to say. Trust your imagination. Trust your ability to naturally tell a good story. Decide who is going to define your life, you or others? Who is going to lead your life, you or others?
Any books/films/resources you want to share…
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Bluest Eye by Tori Morrison
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- Night by Eli Wiesel
- Life is Beautiful
- Hotel Rawanda