Multi art exhibit returns after four years celebrating Sikh heritage

Truth wealth is the theme for Sikh Heritage Month this year

Interactive art exhibit Khazaana, A Treasure of Sikh Heritage returned to Surrey's City Hall on April 7 and 8 featuring local Sikh artists showcasing their work. (Sukhmani Sandhu)

Interactive art exhibit Khazaana, A Treasure of Sikh Heritage returned to Surrey’s City Hall on April 7 and 8 featuring local Sikh artists showcasing their work. (Sukhmani Sandhu)

Interactive art exhibit Khazaana, A Treasure of Sikh Heritage returned after four years to Surrey City Hall on April 7 and 8 to celebrate local Sikh artists. Hosted by Sikh Heritage BC, the event is held annually during April in celebration of Sikh Heritage month, and aims to connect, celebrate, and grow the Sikh community alongside other communities. 

Many Sikh artists’ work across the Lower Mainland were featured at Khazaana, ranging from photography, fashion design, and paintings, to the work of local poets, writers, and spoken word artists. 

“[Khazaana] means treasure trove, so it’s like a treasure chest,” says Manveer Singh Sihota, art event coordinator for Sikh Heritage BC.

“Art really is a treasure chest, because when you open it, and you start to explore it, you start seeing the wealth of talent, the wealth of heritage, the wealth of beauty that exists in our people, and that’s what today’s show is all about.” 

Sihota says the organization likes to put on art events like Khazaana because art is the connection between the past and future. 

“Art transports us to different places and helps us explore the human emotion, which is really at the base of Sikhi,” he says.  

Japnaam Kaur, one of the poets at Khazaana, displayed four pieces of her written work that fall under the theme of Sikh Heritage Month, true wealth. 

“An Incredulous Thought,” “My Best Friend’s Hand,” “An Invitation,” and “My Wealth” are the pieces she created. 

“Some of them explore Sikh identity, going to the Gurdwara, and the wealth that Sikhi has to offer,” Japnaam says. “My favourite one that is displayed is ‘An Incredulous Thought’ because I tried to put into words what going to the Gurdwara means to me and I could never express it before, so I feel like it was my way of poetically expressing it.”

Japnaam says she not only hopes people in the Sikh community feel heard and expressed when they read her poems, but also realize how beautiful Sikhi is. 

“I’ve loved writing poetry all my life. But in the past few years, I’ve realized that I can use it to express my Sikh identity,” Japnaam says. “For me, Sikhi has always been a taboo topic when it comes to being in public spaces like work and school.” 

“So I tried to take a few minutes out and express what Sikhi actually is and put it into words that people outside Sikhi could also understand, and it’s been something that I’ve come back to that resonates with me … and why I’m the way I am.” 

Sahibajot Kaur performed a spoken word piece about decolonization at the event. She completed a master’s thesis in architecture on the areas of poverty in Chandigarh, Punjab, India, her hometown. 

“It all started with an interest in equality, and that of course comes from Sikhi, and our amazing history, where that has always been front and center, the equality of all people,” Sahibajot says. 

Kaur wanted to focus on Chandigarh as she was curious about what could be done to help the town from an architectural point of view. 

“I definitely draw on that sentiment of everyone deserves a right to the city, and equal opportunity, in my poetry.” 

Attendees also had the opportunity to watch two short films. 

Gurleen Kaur directed Rasoi di Rani, a story of her mother and grandmother making saag, a traditional Indian dish made with spinach, telling Gurleen how they learned to make this dish and continue to make it now. 

Monica Chemma directed Paldi: A Place Like This. The film tells the story of the 100 year old town of Paldi on Vancouver Island. Paldi was home to a growing Sikh and South Asian community in the early 1900s. 

Most workers were employed at the saw mill owned by Mayo Singh, and lived in the surrounding area. Paldi had its own Gurdwara, a Sikh temple, which still stands today. After a large forest fire in 2005, a majority of the town burned down, and many Sikh and South Asian immigrants moved. 

To find more events Sikh Heritage BC is hosting throughout April, people can head to their website or Instagram for more information.