By Lakhpreet Kaur
On Friday April 29th, 2016 members of Sewa, a Sikh student organization made up of Columbia University & Barnard College students, hosted Kaur Voices, a night of spoken word, poetry, art and music celebrating Sikh women.
The event was packed, with standing room only, as students and community members, Sikh and non-Sikh, Singhs and Kaurs, filled the venue.
Inspired by UC Berkeley Sikh Student Association, Sewa put on this event hoping to create a “brave space for people to share experiences, love, narratives, and strength of Kaurs.” The highlight of the event was a performance by Australia’s Got Talent contestant, spoken word poet and activist, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa.
“It was inspiring, energizing and fun!” recounted an audience member.
Khushmit Kaur, Columbia alumni and event organizer was enthusiastic that Kaur Voices left people a little bit more aware of women’s and Sikh issues.
“I hope this event encouraged everyone there to acknowledge the strength of a woman’s voice and critically engage in conversations about the extent of inequality between men and women within our society to this day,” she said.
“For me, this event was a unique way to continue a dialogue about gender disparities within the Sikh community by giving women the stage rather than discussing why they should be given the ‘stage.’ While the discussion is essential, women’s self-expression is a proactive and powerful tool to diminish inequalities,” said Khushmit Kaur.
Sukhjit’s Kaur Khalsa’s personal mission for her spoken word aligned with Khushmit’s vision and Sewa’s purpose in hosting Kaur Voices. “When I perform spoken word my intention is to ignite pre-existing passions and challenge my audience to alternative perspectives,” said Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa. “Spoken word is truly healing for me and has helped me process internal struggles as well as communicate difficult issues to my community.”
When asked what her favorite part of the evening was, Sewa member and event organizer, Sarika Kumar said, “There are so many! If I had to pick one, it would be when Sukhjit said something along the lines of Sikh women bearing and feeling the pain for their Sikh brothers, but often feeling like Sikh women’s issues are often not respected or given importance. Having someone verbalize that tension collectivized a lot of the pain and hurt that Sikh women feel, but often do not share. Especially sitting in a room full of Kaurs, Sukhjit shedding light on this issue gave me and others a sense of appreciation and acknowledgement for our existence and life experiences.”
Sewa was grateful to all of those who made Kaur Voices possible. “A BIG thank you to everyone who attended and performed at Kaur Voices, which was full of love and empowerment!” stated their Facebook Page. “Further, thank you to Sukhjit who’s energy and passion inspires us all to challenge norms and practice empathy and fearlessness in our everyday lives!”
If you weren’t able to attend the event, you can enjoy the pieces below.
“Forgive Me If I Butcher Your Name,” By Jasleen Kaur
“There are No Singhs without Kaurs,” by Gurwinder Singh
A Punjabi Song by Prakriti Gill
A Screenplays by Jaipreet Kaur
Read by Sarika Kumar and Najot Kaur. Narrated by Jaipreet Kaur.
Shedding Light on Domestic Violence in Sikh Families
Shedding Light on Anti-Blackness & Racism in Sikh Families
“Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith, sung by Ikaasa Kaur
Poems by Gurleen Kaur
Poem by Nina Chanpreet Kaur
Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa
The audio recordings of Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa during this event did not come out well. So, we found better audio clips from other sources of the same poems she recited at Kaur Voices below.
To Advance Australia Fair