Positive effect of Sikh Animations on Children

Animations are a catalyst which help others to embrace and digest Sikh history in an effective way

In a world in ever increasing digital technology use, Sikh parents today are finding it imperative to create such content to keep the roots of the upcoming Sikh generations nourished in the Guru's values (Gurmat).

An overview of the Sikh faith involves the journey of the soul to accomplish 4 milestones which can be loosely described as the following:

1. Find a True Guru
2. Embrace the Guru's teachings
3. Sacrifice all to the Guru
4. Attain the Guru's Grace

Now, imagine describing this to a 5 year old? Even a 10 year old would struggle to understand such concepts! But before we even try to dispute this, let's not forget the fact that many Sikhs in the Western diapora are losing their mother tongue language; Punjabi. The result is obvious, without a connection to the glorious history of the Sikhs, children are turning away from their faith.

So, what's the one solution?

Sikh Animations.

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When our Grandmother passed away peacefully at home, my child, then aged 4 enquired about death. When I tried to explain that according to Sikh teachings, the soul had gone back to Vaheguru, I saw a puzzled look on the youngster's face. However, when I mentioned the scene from the animation 'Sundri' by Vismaad, where they depicted Sundri's soul going back to Vaheguru, he immediately understood. Noticeably, through the funeral he remained calm and reflective, rather than confused and overwhelmed.

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In 2014, the first Chaar Sahibzade animation movie was released, packing in audiences worldwide. Streams of viewers left the cinema charged with tears flowing, feeling emotionally moved by the sacrifices of the children of the tenth Guru. Sikhs and non-Sikhs developed a greater respect for the faith. A deeper understanding was gained on what point 3 'sacrificing all to the Guru' meant. An appreciation of the Guru's sacrifices inspired families to walk on the path of Sikhi themselves, whether keeping their hair unshorn or starting to read their prayers. Amrit initiation ceremonies saw a huge increase in families coming forward and reconnecting to their faith by formally declaring themselves as point 1 and 2, both finding a Guru and embracing the Gurus teachings.

Since then, there has only been a mere handful of animated films released and children are growing fast! With children reported as spending over 6 hours a day on digital screens and having more challenges than ever, exposed to cyber bullying, grooming or conforming to pressures of body image (such as Disney princesses or a soccer player's latest haircut), there cannot be a better time to release more content to guide and inspire them. Currently in history, we are seeing a dramatic increase in mental health illnesses amongst children and young people.

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Animations are a catalyst which help others to embrace and digest Sikh history in an effective way. Everyone, regardless of age, background, gender or occupation needs role models. Characters to learn from, assimilate with and develop the golden qualities of a saint-soldier (Khalsa). In a class of young Sikh girls that I taught, we discussed the importance of female leadership and education. To help with understanding we watched Sikhnet's animated movie 'Kaur', based on a Sikh girl who took inspiration from Mata Bhag Kaur in history to become an astronaut and overcome stereotype and bias within the home and Western environment. This created such empowering conversations allowing girls to see themselves in the eyes of Mata Sahib Kaur Ji - truly capable and blessed.

Animations are a bridge which could lead many back to the Gurdwara and into learning Santhea, Kirtan and Gatka. As a parent myself, we teach our own children santhea, sewa, Sikh history, keep them in good sangat and take them to historical Gurdware in India. We have found that over the last 18 years of doing talks at children's Sikhi camps, we have observed a sharp decline in children attending. So, whilst preserving old traditions and paying heed to the respect of the Gurus and Gursikhs, let's all support Sikh animations.

Sarveen Kaur

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