CHANDIGARH: Harpreet Sekha, Barinder Singh Dhahan and Sadhu Binning might have left India years ago to settle in Canada, but their love for Punjabi literature and culture continue to thrive in their hearts.
“What Nehru did was compartmentalise Punjabi by calling it the language of the Sikhs and not recognise it as a language of India. The same treatment was given to Urdu at the time of Partition, which is historically wrong and shouldn’t have happened,” said Dhahan, an Indo-Canadian and the founder of the ‘Dhahan Prize.’ He along with two Indo-Canadian authors Binning, 70 and Harpreet Sekha, 50, were in the city as part of a three-city tour organised by the office Canadian Consulate General.
The authors will hold programmes in various universities of Punjab and will spread the reach of Punjabi language and culture across the length and breadth of Canada. “We are representing a huge Punjabi diaspora living in Vancouver, Canada, along with various other cities of the province of British Columbia here in India. Our aim is to get Punjabi, our mother tongue, a mainstream status in the working environment of Canada along with other parts of the world,” added Dhahan.
After holding seminars in Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, the trio also held a similar session in Lahore, Pakistan before coming to India.
Dhahan, who left India to settle in Canada at the age of four, did not get a chance to learn Punjabi, like many of his relatives back in India. Harbouring a keen interest in Punjabi literature and to fill that void and spread awareness, Dhahan, founded an award after his last name to honour those who contributed to Punjabi literature.
Binning, who has been a Canadian resident for 50 years, retired as a language instructor for Punjabi language from the University of British Columbia after 20 years. He also began the first Bhangra dance group in Canada 1969. He also founded the first Punjabi language magazine named ‘Watno Dur.’ Sekha, has been living in Canada for 30 years and already has published numerous books in Punjabi.
“I left India in 1988 and I am a short story writer. Three of my anthologies, titled ‘Bee Jee Muskura Paye’, ‘Baaran Buhe and Prism’ have been published. A book on prose titled ‘Taxi Nama’ and a translation of Jewels of the Kila named ‘Kile De Moti’ has also been published. A Hindi translation titled ‘Barf Kor Hawayein’ has also been published.”