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Dalbir Singh

By Inni Kaur
Year 2015, pp. 147, $24.95

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Sakhi-Time with Nani Ji is inspired by the life and teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak, born in 1469, witnessed lot of turmoil and atrocities committed by the rulers of that era in the name of religion and caste fundamentalism. He organized his followers to challenge the protagonists of extremism and founded a new church to build an egalitarian society. His message of universal brotherhood, peace, love, emancipation and empowerment of women, and faith based on oneness of God and boycott of superstitions and idol worship, appealed to all ordinary people who suffered persecution and social injustice. He broke the barriers of the caste system which had polarized the society enormously and replaced the complex diverse rituals with simple ceremonies. He spread his message through his personal example and by direct interaction with the local communities. This book stands out for the very different muted illustrations that are a wonderful mix of both abstract and figurative styles and the fact of being bilingual. As second and third generation Sikhs assimilate in mainstream life they tend to become unmoored from the religious and moral values of earlier generations. In a post-9/11 U.S. context and particularly in the wake of anti-Sikh hate crimes, there is a strong desire on the part of many Sikh writers, especially of this burgeoning genre of children’s stories, to review knowledge of Sikh heritage, culture and language. This book will go a long way in familiarizing children and their parents, with the tenets of Sikhism and with the life of its founder, Guru Nanak. But also, and more importantly perhaps, it will help in explaining Sikh philosophy to the larger community of which young Sikhs are a part. Inni Kaur who is a teacher, painter, poet and author scatters seeds of Sikhi with generous abandon and with the conviction that many will take root and flower. Aesthetic treasures like this elegant book fill a deeply felt vacuum in the lives of the young who have access to other beautifully written and produced books but few that reflect their own culture and religious values so convincingly. Although some of the stories are tweaked a bit to include modern- day issues like equality for women and to encourage rationality over mysticism, they do not depart from the message of Guru Nanak which is as relevant today as it was in the fifteenth ...

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