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Archive for August, 2007

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By Ravindra Sheoran, New Delhi, Aug.20 : Giving Afghan youth, including those belonging to the Sikh community, a sense of freedom to choose and live is a motto the Khalsa Diwan Welfare Society here swears by.

This voluntary organisation set up in 1993 is taking steps to ensure that refugees from Afghanistan, especially children are in a position to establish their identity and be self-reliant.

The society trains Afghan youth in spirituality, vocational training and other fields to ensure both employment and survival.

One of the children taking such a religious training, said: “I want to be a `Raagi’ (religious singer). My dream is to teach every child to play the harmonium so that he can provide relief to his parents. It’s my dream to learn Kirtan Shabbad (religious studies) and perform in a Gurudwara.”

Many of the Afghani youth are acquiring computer skills to ensure a safe future for themselves to take slice of country’s burgeoning economy. Many of them wish to join information technology, entertainment and lifestyle-related services.

Khalsa Diwan Welfare Society also organizes contests between various refugee settlements in Delhi and its neighborhood to spur youngsters to work harder.

Narinder Singh, the founder member of the Khalsa Diwan Welfare Society, said: “We have noticed our youth taking help of others in filling up forms. People ignored them and they face embarrassment. We want them to be independent.”

Bhupinder Manchanda, one of the members of the Khalsa Diwan Society, said:

“Our main purpose is to provide education. Our children who failed to get admission in schools were taken to those schools and were made to observe the procedures there.”

“We teach them about the schools and to differentiate between recognized schools and the one affiliated to the government. By making them able to get admission to schools, we have solved their problem.”

The society also conducts vocational classes. The emphasis is on equipping the young refugees with the skills that are high in demand in the country.

The children are curious to visit Kabul as tourists on some day of their life.

— ANI

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By Ravindra Sheoran

New Delhi, Aug.20: The turmoil in Afghanistan may have compelled a large number of Sikh families to flee their motherland, and now a majority of those living in India are seeking a new life here, and hope that the Indian Government will come forward to resurrect their lives in some way.

Harinder Singh was once a prosperous cloth merchant in Kabul, but had to flee Afghanistan because of the turbulence there. He came to India with high hopes.

Harinder took to selling green almonds, as this was fruit was very popular among Afghans, and he thought it would attract the same kind of clientele in India. He, however, finds it tough to earn a successful living with his two sons and wife.

“We crave for government’s assistance to grant us a permanent accommodation or land. We do not want to lead a life on lease. Every year, we have to shift our home which is very painful,” Singh said

There are 20,000 Afghan Sikh migrants, and after years of hardship, they and their families are now settling down. Many of them have taken up petty businesses. Despite their struggle to settle in a new country, they have not forgotten their traditions and customs.

Settled in New Delhi, hundreds of these families may well be identified by their clothes and eating habits.

There are many Afghaniss who value their freedom, cherish their traditions and customs, despite being in a new country.

Gurpreet Kaur, an Afghani Sikh woman, said: “This is Afghanistan’s tradition which we are following. We cover our head with a cloth. We still wear full sleeves as we were wearing in Afghanistan.”

Naura Singh, another Afghani Sikh, said: “The trend of people living in India is different from the people in Kabul. Here, we live with more freedom as we used to live in Afghanistan under a tyrannical ruler.”

Despite still trying to cope up with the modern life of Delhi, these Afganistanis have not forgotten a temptation for their favourite dish “Naan”. They prefer buying baked bread from their specially-owned `Dhabas’ or road-side eateries.

Large in size, Naans or the flat bread costs four cents each.

Although the youngsters have adapted themselves to Indian delicacies, elders continue to enjoy the same lifestyle here.

Prem Kaur, an Afghan customer, said: “We don’t cook `rotis’, the Indian bread, as we only eat Afghani breads. We had big houses in Kabul with our personal ovens. Here, the houses are small and we can’t keep an oven. Having no option we buy bread from `dhabas’ or the road-side eateries.”

Although the Gurudwaras in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Talibanis, the Sikhs had spirited away replicas of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to India for safekeeping and installed then in the Gurdwaras.
Copyright Dailyindia.com/ANI

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