Toronto Bhangra Team "Nachdi Jawani Folk Loverz" Wins the P.C.S. Trophy at Punjabi Cultural Society's Chicago competition

October 23, 2017 11:11 AM

CHICAGO, IL: Punjabi Bhangra (folk dance) teams including University of Chicago, Spartan Bhangra from Cleveland Ohio, "Raakhe Virse De" from Michigan, SFU Bull Bhangra from Tampa Florida, Nachdi Jawani Folk Loverz from Toronto competed in the 10th PCS Chicago International Bhangra and Gidha Competition held on October 14, 2017 at Meadows Club, in Rolling Meadows Illinois.

Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini of Advance Pain Management in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the grand sponsor.

The event was also sponsored by Dr. Narinder S Grewal, Mohina Ahluwalia, PCS Chairman Hardial Singh Deol, and Gurdeep Singh Nandra.

Anita Lerche, a Billboard Top-5 Charting Artist and an internationally acclaimed award-winning singer, songwriter and composer enthralled the audience with her melodious singing and dancing. She started with her song "Aao Ji" and kept the audience spellbound and engaged with her songs "Lathe Di Chadar ute," "Heer" and "Sadke Punjab Ton."

P.C.S. introduced Anita Lerche first time to Chicago audience. She originates from Denmark and was the first non-Asian woman from the West to release an album in Punjabi known as "Heer From Denmark." Anita has been touring the world, received numerous awards and honors and has been featured on several music collaborations including "Ao Ji" with Gurcharan Mall. She has evolved into a prominent figure in promoting Punjabi music and culture on international scale. Her album "Sadke Punjab Ton," an ode to the culture that has changed her life. She has made history with Punjabi music, first time its ever on Billboard charts. She was on two charts simultaneously and that is huge in music business.

Despite eight inches of constantly pouring rain and flooding on Chicago streets, more than 500 die hard PCS supporters defied the weather to enjoy this colorful and high energy cultural showcase.

Nearly 100 male and female bhangra performers from all over the United States and Canada and local youth coordinators participated in this event. The competition this year was among the bhangra teams only, who wore stunning costumes and gave stellar performances.

"Bhangra continues to rise to new heights, there were more non-Punjabi than Punjabi names among the list of these university teams participants, which is great. We hope to keep families and the youth engaged in their Punjabi culture," said Sukhmel Singh Atwal, President of PCS Chicago.

In addition to a meaningful bhangra competition experience, the participants had a lot of fun games and dancing during pre and post event social mixers, networking parties, meals together and celebrations like a youth festival.

Competition performances were judged by seasoned bhangra experts who are not PCS Officials. Parminder Singh Walia, Vipan Kaur Kaler, Amrita Kaur Randhawa, and Navkiran Kaur Dhillon judged the teams for traditional dance form, authenticity, costumes, choreography, artistic creativity, and flawlessness in their presentations. Rajinder Singh Mago a P.C.S. official coordinated the judgment process. The team captains received friendly feed backs from the judges after the show.

Pardeep Deol announced the Bhangra competition results. "Nachdi Jawani Folk Loverz" an independent Bhangra team from Toronto Canada, comprised mostly of youth ranging in age from 10 years to 17 years won the PCS Chicago Bhangra Championship 2017 first place trophy and $3100 cash along with the bragging rights amidst an unceasing thunderous applause all through their performance. They landed and swept the stage like a whirl wind and with every move they made, they won the hearts and minds of the audience and the judges.

The second place PCS trophy and $2100 cash prize was won by "Raakhe Virse De," another independent Bhangra team from Michigan. It was a very close contest with all the rest of the teams, making the judges sweat to come to the final decision. Interestingly, this team (RVD) was runners-up in PCS Bhangra competition in 2014 as well.

Tarandeep Singh Nagra compered the bhangra competition teams performances and also the dance off for the best dancer contest. Fantastic Bhangra performances one after the other announced by Nagra kept the spectators spell bound. Nobody moved away from their seats till the end lest they miss a performance.

Parvinder Singh Nanua emceed the sponsors recognitions segment. Event sponsors Lakhvir Singh Sahota, Kevin Atwal, Balwinder "Nick" Singh, Surjit Singh Chera, Harkewal Singh Lally, Jaidev Singh Bhathal, Jesse Sahota, Dr. Gurdial Singh Basran in liu of PCS Chairman Hardial Singh Deol were honored with plaques by Chief guest Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini.

"PCS Chicago officials and volunteers work very hard and do a great job organizing this event and hosting the guest teams from far and near for the weekend celebrations. Our community must also do their part and support them in their efforts to be able to continue promoting our culture," said Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini the chief guest.

The program was organized by P.C.S. officials Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Mohinderjit Singh Saini, Bikram Singh Chohan, Parvinder Singh Nanua, Surinder Singh Palia, Manjeet Singh Bhalla, Raibrinder Singh Ghotra, Pardeep Singh Deol, Surinder Singh Sangha,  Sunny Kular, Balwinder Singh Girn, Paul Lail, Bhinder Singh Pamma, Onkar Singh Sangha, Parminder Singh Ghotra, Yadwinder Singh Grewal, Ronny Kular, Vick Singh, Gurmit Singh Dhillon, Amarjit Kaur Atwal, Jasbir Singh Palia, and  Rajinder Singh Mago.

The logistics of the competition and the pre and post event activities were managed by the P.C.S. youth organizing committee comprising of Harleen Kaur, Taranpreet Singh Nagra, Amardeep Kaur Deol, Harman Kaur Sidhu, Shan Dev, and Ankush Verma, Jaskaran Singh Saini, led by Pardeep Singh Deol and Bikram Singh Chohan. The youth group was introduced on stage by Pardeep Singh Deol, and honored for their hard work with plaques by the Chief guest Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini.

The next PCS Chicago's mainstream event is participation in McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade on State Street in Chicago downtown on Thanksgiving Day November 23, with a theme "Punjabi Maharaja wedding procession." The PCS contingent will include a decorated float, a dressed up walking unit, Bhangra dance troupe, Punjabi music and live Dhol drum, where thousands of spectators will line up to watch and it will also be broadcast live on WGNTV-9 and re-broadcast on CLTV later.

P.C.S. is an all volunteer non-profit community service organization devoted to promoting Punjabi culture, performing arts, education, sports, and good citizenship in the Chicago Metropolitan area.


Winds of change: Muslim girls embrace education, aim high

Students of Fatima Girls Inter College during the morning assembly at Daudpur Village in district Azamgarh
November 12, 2017 05:42 PM

By Abu Zafar
KATIHAR(Bihar) For Ghazala Tasneem, October 31 was not a normal day. It was the day her dream came true and she was rewarded for her hard struggle of three years. She was selected for the Bihar Judicial Services Competitive Examination with 65th rank and can soon aspire to be a judge.

"Indeed, it was difficult, but thanks to Allah, due to the continuous support and motivation from my husband and other family members, I have achieved what I deserved," says Tasneem, a housewife from Katihar district of Bihar with two sons.

There is a general perception that Muslim women rarely pursue higher education, or go for competitive exams, and the social odds are stacked even higher once they get married and have kids. But women like Tasneem challenge such stereotypes.

India has the largest Muslim population after Indonesia, which is about 14.2 percent of its 1.34 billion population, and the 2011 census says that about half of the population of Muslim women is illiterate. But women like Tasneem think that the situation is changing fast.

"Though in areas like law and judiciary, still the number of Muslim girls is very less. But in general, the situation is changing now and there are many more Muslim girls going to school," Tasneem said.

Zebun Nisa Khan, associate professor at the Department of Education in Aligarh Muslim University, says that situation has already changed. "The trend is not changing, but it has already changed. For the last few years, the number of Muslim girls in schools has increased massively," Khan said.

Muslim women's literacy rate is on the increase in Uttar Pradesh, but the situation in states like Bihar and West Bengal needs to further improve.

Moonisa Bushra Abidi teaches Physics at Maharashtra College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Mumbai. She also thinks that educating the girl child is an increasing trend among Muslims and an increasing number of Muslims girls -- encouraged by their parents, particularly mothers -- are going for higher education.

"One can see a larger number of girls with hijab in many institutions now. In the early 1990s, when I was pursuing my M.Sc. from the University of Mumbai, I was the only girl in the entire university with a hijab," Abidi explains.

She says that during her days in the same college, at the intermediate level, there used to be one division of girls against four of boys, but now there are four divisions of girls against one for boys. At UG and PG levels, there are hardly 8 to 10 boys in each class against 80 to 90 girls.

The college is being run under the presidentship of a woman, Fatima Zakaria, a Padma Shri awardee, journalist and academician, and mother of veteran journalist Fareed Zakaria.

"The situation is not good because the number of boys is decreasing and now our college is becoming a girls' college," Abidi said.

But what had been the major issues for educating Muslim girl child in India? Khan lists poverty and lack of awareness as some of the major problems in the path of girl child education.

"The major obstacles are poverty and lack of awareness. Many Muslim families are below the poverty line and they are unable to educate girls," she explained.

Sadia Rahman, PhD scholar of international relations at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, thinks that widespread poverty and financial constraints are the major causes that prevent Muslim girls from accessing modern education. "Also, the poor quality schools in Muslim populated areas is also responsible for it," says Rahman who hails from Kolkata and completed MA from Presidency University.

According to Islamic teaching arrangements of classes, male and female students should be separated and many people believe that it is also one of the important reasons for the low literacy rate of Muslim women in various places.

"I think the biggest obstacle for girls' education was co-education and less availability of Muslim-management colleges. Sometimes a girl with a hijab becomes the butt of jokes, because of which religious-minded girls are hesitant to go to colleges run by non-Muslim managements," Abidi added.

Abidi believes that Muslim girls from conservative families don't feel comfortable in the co-education system and the community should think about opening more separate colleges for them.

"In rural areas, even Hindu girls prefer girls-only colleges and avoid co-education," Khan pointed out.

Neyaz Ahmad Daudi, who runs Fatima Girls Inter College in Daudpur village in Azamgarh district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, has another story to tell. Daudi, who has doctorate in Psychology from Banaras Hindu University and served at Shibli National Intermediate College as principal for over a decade, says that he chose to start a girls' college because boys can go far and there were not enough girls' colleges at nearby villages and towns.

Non-availability of schools and colleges nearby is also one of the major obstacles and a major issue in many areas.

Daudi says that in places like Azamgarh, where most of the guardians away in the Gulf countries or in metro cities earning a livelihood, people are cautious about the security of girls and don't allow them to be sent too far; they also seek a safe and secure transportation system from home to school.

At 73.01 percent, Azamgarh has the highest Muslim female literacy rate in Uttar Pradesh. But being a small place, it is still difficult to gain higher education here.

"Now girls are educated but they have less opportunity for higher studies and competitive exams because usually it is available only in bigger cities," Daudi explained.

There is another misconception that some people think that educating a girl child -- especially modern education -- is against the religion, but Khan believes that getting an education is a religious duty.

"The very first revelation on Prophet Mohammed was the word 'Iqra' which means 'you read' and such words are mentioned in many places in the Holy Quran. It is general guidance for both males and females," Khan says.

"Islam and Muslims are not against education. Islam teaches one to gain knowledge from cradle to grave, but some people misinterpret Islam," says Tasneem.

"All educational goals can be achieved being in veil. There are a number of examples in the early Islamic period where women were very much involved in education and nursing sectors," Tasneem added.


Mega Auditions of ‘Mirchi Fashion Queen-Punjab 2017’

Participants of ‘Mirchi Fashion Queen-Punjab 2017’
October 18, 2017 12:25 PM

Jalandhar, Oct.18-CT Group of Institutions hosted the Semi Finale of scintillating and fantabulous ‘MirchiFashion Queen-Punjab 2017,’ at Sardarni Manjit Kaur Auditorium, Shahpur Campus.

Mirchi Fashion Queen, Pan Punjab's Beauty Pageant competition went to 5 cities for Auditions and shortlisted 100 contestants from these cities to go through Mega Auditions at CT Institutions, Shahpur Campus and top 16 Finalists will be getting grooming and training from Industry experts and celebrities before the Grand Finale.

Mirchi Fashion Queen is a great platform for young girls who carry the dream and desire to wear the crown and fly high in the world of Fashion.  S. Charanjit Singh Channi (Chairman, CT Group), Manbir Singh (Managing Director, CT Group), Dr. G.S. Kalra (Campus Director, CT Group of Institutions, Shahpur) wished good to the selected participants as the winners will get an entry to fashion world with name & fame an also exciting opportunities in coming days.

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