Kiran Kaur lives in Northern California and is currently a freshman in high school. She has always loved art; since she was a child, she has always enjoyed it.
Her love of art developed working alongside her grandmother, who is also an artist.
As she got older, her mediums expanded to different kinds of painting and sculpting.
During the week, she takes classes from local artists to keep on expanding her horizons; this year, she has been working on portraits.
As Kiran grows, her work grows with her. Art is an outlet for her, and she plans on keeping art in her life as she finishes high school.
Outside of school and art, she enjoys playing soccer, dancing, singing in the shower, and hanging out with friends and family, just like any other teenager.
NEW: Another painted presentation by Kiran Kaur on the Power of Nirbhau and Nirvair and what it means to her. (Dec 15, 2013)
In the video she paints a story, "The Power of Belief" and talks about belief and what it means to her. She also talks about injustice, discrimination and hatred. Turn up the volume, and enjoy.
My name is Kiran Kaur. I am a Sikh. And I am also an artist.
Today, I'm going to paint you a story: the Power of Belief. Belief gives me something to help me stand up, an inner strength, a helping hand through the path of life that is full of obstacles.
Belief keeps me grounded and it keeps all of us, the human race, bound together, keeps us from falling apart at the seams. The word, "belief", has different connotations for each person.
And for me, belief is such a beautiful word, because belief is optimism, strength, and will power. Belief allows us to be individuals in a community, celebrates diversity, and yet creates a sense of union.
As I sketch this image of a sword, the story is starting.....in art, swords usually have a positive vibe- they usually have to do with strength, and courage...and this painting is no exception.
It takes courage to stick through with your beliefs, to stay true to them and to yourself. And this applies to Sikhi-- every Sikh boy or girl goes through tough times or doubts themselves,
with assimilating in the Western culture, finding their identity, and just everyday struggles.
I know, I'm just a teenager, but this is my story-- I am growing up in a family where we talk about beliefs a lot. My parents have blessed me with Sikhi, but it's up to me to take advantage of
that gift and use it in a positive way. My belief in Sikhi extends beyond just being born to Sikh parents. *I* believe that the Guru Ji's gave me this identity for a reason and *I* believe in the SGGS.
However, as powerful as these beliefs may be, they are constantly tested by obstacles, barriers, and distractions, if you will. These are all the things that try to chip away at our beliefs,
tugging, pulling, and trying to strip us of them. Think about when we go to school, or work, or wherever we may go in the morning--there is always that chance that we'll have to face one of these
obstacles during the day.
One obstacle is hate. Hate is a strong word, and an even stronger emotion. Hate motivates people into dangerous and damaging action. When people don't stop to ask questions and find out the truth
about others, they can act on impulse, which can cost lives. The Oak Creek Gurudwara shooting in Wisconsin. One man's hate made him pick up a gun--leaving 6 innocent worshippers dead, and 3 others
wounded. I first heard about this on CNN while getting ready to go to my own San Jose Gurudwara --and I cried. I cried for all of those people who were simply praying and were in the right place,
but just at the terribly wrong time. I cried for the families of the people, because in a heartbeat, a mother or a father, a sister or a brother was taken from them.
However, as horrible as this event may have been, the Sikh community responded well- when we opened up, the broader community warmly received us. People of all faiths came together, and held
candlelight vigils all over the country, expressing sorrow for our loss. This is the optimism in belief. That even in the worst of situations, we can still hold hands and stand as a community.
Okay, this next one is good: Discrimination. What's funny is that we learn about discrimination in school like its gone. Jim Crow laws. The Indian Removal Act. The Original
Immigration Laws. Social Classes. Learning about historical discrimination leads you to falsely believe that its a thing of the past- last year after learning about Jim Crow,
we were asked if discrimination still exists. I kid you not, half the class said no. Discrimination has always happened in the world, is happening, and will continue
to happen unless we act. For example, in 1971, AT&T refused to hire Sikh engineers, they would only hire them without their turban and beard. My grandfather Daljit Singh Ahluwalia and two
others fought for AT&T to accept Kesh-daari Sikhs, after meeting them through NY Human Rights Commission and explaining the significance of Sikh identity.
And now for injustice, in 1984, the Indian Army attacked the Sikh's holiest gurdwara- the Golden Temple. After the subsequent assassination of the Prime Minister, Indhira Gandhi, by her
Sikh bodyguards, riots broke out in Delhi. People were hired to go after the Sikhs and their families; and many people were tortured and killed during this time.
Unfortunately, disappearances, tortures, and killings continued for at least a decade in Punjab--with out any accountability for these crimes.
Jaskaran Kaur, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has devoted her life to an organization she co-founded called Ensaaf. Ensaaf means justice and fights to end impunity.
Ensaaf's mission is to document all the crimes, and fight for justice for the victims and survivors during this decade of disappearances.
Jaskaran has taken her law degree and is using it for something she BELIEVES in. Her belief has empowered her to fight back against the injustice in India.
Judgment: similar to prejudice, but prejudice doesn't require action. Judgement however, is the formation of an opinion, without real facts. I have the perfect example:
TSA--you gotta love their policy....as we all know, their primary job is to keep us all safe at the airport and on our flights. But their paid to judge whether or not to let passengers
proceed into the terminal, and their job is judgement based on appearance. Every. Time. We go to the airport. Dad gets the routine chemical swab pat-down-your- pugari-check, and when
I travel with him, I get a back and braid pat down too. Their Judgement-based-jobs should move from profile to risk-based assessments.
In this painting, I have a brightly colored hand, holding a sword that has "Belief" engraved on it. You can see the "Belief" distinctly among the sea of challenges, and its coming forth
out of blue swirls of water; that represent how each of these challenges are integrated in our lives. For me, belief is like a compass. When your beliefs are strong and initiate your
action, anything can be accomplished, and the obstacles of life can be overcome.
So this is my story: the power of belief.
(Kiran Kaur © All rights reserved. Reproduced on SikhFamilyCenter.org with permission.)