Name: Ameet Singh Bhatt
Sites: http://www.boliyanbook.com ; http://www.onlinepunjabiteacher.com
Background: British born and raised Punjabi Sikh
Location: London and Brighton
Topic: Ethical Punjabi Projects aiming to Preserve our Punjabi Culture
What got you interested in helping to preserve our Punjabi Sikh culture?
The preservation of ones culture has to be one of the most important factors in keeping our roots
and traditions alive from generation to generation. In the past this has been achieved through
word of mouth and various informed people who have written books and educated people.
Being a British born confused Desi (BBCD as they say!), I naturally wanted to learn more about
my background and it gave me great pride to know more about my Sikh heritage. Through this
I wanted to help preserve our traditions, language and anything else that would help keep the
Punjabi Sikh spirit alive outside of India.
Even though I run various other businesses, I wanted to give back to the community in another
way so created Boliyan Book and Online Punjabi Teacher as a way to help preserve our Punjabi
culture for generations to come. After all, we are born British Sikhs and live in a Western
environment which gives us the choice to choose the best from both worlds so I wanted the
Punjabi Sikh side more readily available to us all.
What is Boliyan Book and how did the concept of the book come about?
Boliyan Book is simply a Punjabi wedding song book containing all of the various songs you
need for each and every event that makes up a Punjabi Sikh wedding. The great thing about this
book is it takes you through each event (chunni, maiyan, nanakishak, jago, sehra, doli, etc) and
educates the reader on what happens and why they happen, as well as of course providing the
various songs that can be sung during each event.
The idea for Boliyan Book came during my brother’s wedding around 8 years ago. The usual
thing happened during the lead up to the wedding: my sisters and sister-in-laws searched the
internet trying to find Punjabi wedding songs (dholki songs, boliyan, tappe, suhag, ghorian, etc).
After a long while, they found various songs and printed them out, but what they discovered was
many of the songs were either hard to read or incomplete. So when it came to the fun of the
sangeet nights and the other celebrations, they found themselves again just clapping along to
the songs saying the one line of the lyrics that they do know, while the one aunty who knew all
the songs lead the group. There were comments from my sisters and sister-in-laws like how are
we ever going to remember all of these Punjabi songs for our own kid’s weddings?. Sitting back
watching this I knew something could be done in order to help our generation with continuing and
preserving this part of our rich culture, and so Boliyan Book was born.
What was the idea behind Online Punjabi Teacher?
We all know language is very important when it comes to culture, so the ability to teach it to each
and every generation is a must. My level of Punjabi was very much basic and I knew that if I
wanted to learn more about my mother tongue I would have to either go to a Punjabi class at a
Gurdwara or find one of those teach yourself Punjabi CDs. Many of us know that Punjabi classes
tend to be not great learning environments because of the generation divide between teacher and
student (you can read more here: http://www.onlinepunjabiteacher.com/aboutus.html) and with
the CDs you lack the two way conversational style of learning. Therefore we set about creating
an alternative; a far better and more efficient way of learning. We hope that we can teach Punjabi
to the new generations of British born Punjabis who are loosing touch with their mother tongue.
By teaching this generation, we believe that it will be easier for our children to be able to pick it up
and continue our special language.
They both sound like great causes, any last words?
My hope is that we can all keep our traditions alive and stay in touch with our roots, and the way
this can be done is first feeling proud of who we are and where we and the previous generations
have come from. From this we can continue to educate our ourselves and thus the future
generations. It is all about keeping the Punjabi Sikh spirit alive and it is something we can all do
together – so spread the word, feel proud of who we are and we can all take an active step in
immortalising our culture in the UK and across the world! Waheguru!