25 February 2023
The Sikhlens: Sikh Arts and Film Festival, 2023 witnessed the screening of as many as twenty films from eight countries in Tagore Theatre Chandigarh, here today. The 4th edition of this festival was brought by Pinaka Mediaworks and Rolling Frames Entertainment and supported by the Chandigarh Administration, the Department of Cultural Affairs (U.T), the Government of Canada, and the United Sikh Mission. The films from various countries included India, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Kenya, Pakistan, Malawi, and Singapore. The festival was attended by thousands of visitors from across India and abroad.
Caroline Rowett, British Deputy High Commissioner in her keynote address, stated that “The Culture and the Arts connect us in ways that trade and investment don’t.” She talked about the intertwined culture of the UK and India. She also launched the book trailer of the Sikhlens publications’ biography of Kuldip Singh Bhogal, a former Olympian, titled The Legend of 1972 – Life Hockey & Beyond. Along with this, Jewels from Sikh Wisdom published by Sikhlens Publications was also launched. The announcement of the Sikhlens in the UK Festival 2023 on 17th June 2023 was made by the Festival Head Ojaswwee Sharma.
A day-long program from 11 am to 9 pm was packed with screenings related to Sikh heritage and culture, showcasing and creating awareness for Sikh-centric work from around the world with a particular focus on cultural stories related to the Sikh and Punjabi Diaspora across the world and the high-spirited philanthropic work.
The courtyard was abuzz with a magnificent display of exhibitions put up by five artists displaying more than 1800 heritage artifacts and contemporary art showcasing enormous ancient Heritage Sikh Artifacts, and art produced by various record-holding artists, and also a foot-artist who creates magnificent artworks using his feet. The exhibition consisted of miniature kites and paintings, Sikh art and artifacts from ancient times, and manuscripts of varied texts in Gurmukhi scripts as well as Persian.
A book exhibition focused on Sikh history, struggle, teachings, and Punjabi literature and language. The area was adorned with walkthrough backdrops, and the annual Sikhlens Calendar 2023, celebrating and promoting the Sikhs’ artistic and cultural heritage.
The festival started with an inaugural session followed by the national anthem, a lamp lighting ceremony, and an energetic playback of ‘The Spirit of Sikhlens of India’, presenting memories of the last Sikhlens festival. The audience was welcomed by the founders of Sikhlens, Bicky Singh and Gurpreet Kaur. They shared that the festival brings together various art forms of the rich Sikh heritage on one platform. “Our vision with the festival this year has been a blend of educating, entertaining, and empowering the mainstream audience along creating awareness for ‘Sikh-centric’ work, to promote and bring out encouraging Sikh stories of history, cultural and linguistic diversity, and philanthropic storytelling and encourage the community to get into films”- informed Ojaswwee Sharma, Sikhlens India Head, and Festival Director.
The film screenings continued in the second half of the Sikhlens: Arts & Film Festival 2023 at Tagore Theater, Chandigarh. In the section focusing on Canada, the Sikhlens Calendar 2023 on the theme ‘Hidden Histories: Pioneer Sikhs in Canada’ was launched by François Dutil, Consul, Consulate General of Canada. In his keynote address, he stated “Canada lives in Punjab, as much as Punjab lives in Canada.”. He went on to emphasize that the Consulate General of Canada takes pride in reinforcing their strong ties with Punjab, and announced for hosting the Sikhlens Festival in Canada next year.
The world premiere screening of the documentary Hidden Histories: The Sikh Migration Path to Canada took place, which showcased the historic milestones of the first South Asians who migrated from India to Canada in the early 1900s. Screening was accorded with the discussion of the making and experiences related to the documenting and filming of the same by the author and curator Karen Dosanjh.
The phenomenal Gatka performance by Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Gatka Akhara, was enchanting and hypnotizing for the audience.
The world premiere of the documentary One Beat, the story of Education and Free Healthcare, which showcases the towering efforts of free healthcare facilities to the underprivileged and ensuring medical education facilities in the small town of Bhira, in Uttar Pradesh, India by American-Sikh Bahadur Singh, was greatly appreciated.
The day of festivities culminated with an honor for One Beat, United Sikh Mission, DGRLS – Hoshiarpur. Along with them, hosts, exhibitors, participants, and keynote speakers, were also honored. The festival founder and directorate gave their closing remarks and the date was announced for next year’s Sikhlens India Festival 2024, which is decided to be on the 24th February 2024 (Saturday).