Nishkam TV had the privilege to cover an event by Sri Hemkunt Foundation Inc, the Garden state Internationals in New Jersey, USA from July 25 – 28, 2019. The 31st Annual Symposium and the 13th Annual Keertan Darbaar were held along with recently added Panthic Digital Video (PDV) program to create the Next Generation Sikh Story Tellers.

On the first day, the team attended the Keertan Darbar held at Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara Sahib in Carteret, NJ. Each age group was given a raag (a pattern of notes) in which they were to recite a Shabad. The members of the Nishkam TV team felt blessed to hear the young kirtaniyas. It was astounding to see that even though the children were competing, they were bonded in a unique way which was beautiful yet hard to express in words.

The following day, the speech symposium took place at the Delta Hotel by Marriot in Woodridge, NJ. The Symposium is conducted worldwide in more than 15 zones. There is a local competition for the children at the local Gurdwaras. The top two winners in each group compete at the zonal level with the winners from other Gurdwaras within the zone. The winners of the zonal competition are invited to compete at the International level in their respective age groups. Nishkam TV, not only listened and recorded their speeches, but had a chance to interview these bright young kids and their mentors.

The Hemkunt foundation also runs the Panthic Digital Voice (PDV) program. The program was established to create the Next Generation Sikh Story Tellers. There is strong desire among our community of having a Sikh-centric digital media, where our stories can be told by our own future Sikh story tellers. Sikhs currently have minimal or no representation in American main-stream digital media or journalism. There is a dire need for our youth to learn Sikh history and become the Next Generation Sikh Story Tellers. In this years event, kids made Sikh-Centric films based off the theme of ‘Kirat Karo’. The videos were uploaded to YouTube and were then judged based off of originality, creativity, editing and following the Sikh Ethos. Winners, and as well as all participating children were honored with awards and winning films to showcase at Sikhlens Film Festivals around the globe.

The team also had the chance to interview the current President, Prithpal Singh of Hemkunt Foundation, some board members, and few organizers from the New Jersey Sangat who worked for months to make this monumental event.

We interviewed Sikh scholars, Khalsa Lakhvir Singh from Nairobi, Kenya and Davinder Singh Garcha from Virginia for Nishkam TV. Khalsa Lakhvir talked about the great Sikhi spirit, vibrant Sikh community, and the 100+ years Sikh history in Kenya. Davinder Singh discussed about the spirit behind the founding of Sikhism and the the “langar” (community meal) system in Sikh Gurdwaras. He explored it from Guru Nanak’s perspective based on Gurbani teachings and the Kartarpur village that Guru Nanak had established.

At the Saturday night gala, our team was honored to meet and interview multiple celebrities and role models. This included Harpreet Kaur (the first Sikh woman to win an Emmy) and Manmeet Singh, founders of Sach Productions. We also talked to Gagandeep Singh, a famous mandolin player from Bareilly, India. Nishkam TV interviewed with famous Canadian rapper, Fateh Singh as well.

On the final day at the prize distribution ceremony, we spoke to Attorney General Grewal, Mayor of Hoboken, NJ, Ravi Bhalla, and Lieutenant Colonel Kalsi. All these people continue to serve the United States of America while maintaining their Sikhi identity.

To learn more about Hemkunt, click here .


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