Chaman blooms in Britain
Chaman Lal Chaman's half a century of contribution to popular culture was honoured at a glittering event in London recently. He was presented with the Asian Achievers Gold Award for Achievement in Media, Art and Culture by Baroness Shriti Vadera, an Advisor to G20 Presidency. Chaman was selected from a list of nominations by an independent Panel of Judges and finalists who included a prominent playwright, a TV director and a media personality. These much younger nominees have indeed made a mark in Britain but the coveted prize went to the veteran broadcaster, poet, lyricist and journalist.
The 9th Annual Awards were hosted by Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar newspapers and attended by over 1,000 VIP guests at Wembley Stadium, London. The Chief Guest was Baroness Shriti Vadera and among the VIPs were Kieth Vaz, MP, Virendra Sharma, MP, and hundreds of society and media personalities.
A broadcaster, poet, lyricist, translator and an interpreter, Chaman Lal Chaman is well known in Britain, as he was in Kenya earlier. Over half a century of devotion to the arts as a broadcaster, journalist, poet and a playwright, he has interpreted Eastern culture to the Western mind across numerous communities and countries. Interviewing or presenting their shows, he has been associated with the leading artists of the Indian subcontinent. He has published two anthologies of his poems.
Writing in three languages — Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi — Chaman's poems have entertained and inspired his listeners over many decades. He has two books of poems to his credit and a third one is in print. His famous poem Saun Da Mahina became a super hit Punjabi song, which was sung by Jagjit Singh. Another hit, Jaanda Jaanda Mahi has been sung by Chitra Singh. Renowned playback singers Asha Bhonsle and Kumar Sanu have also sung his lyrics while his bhajans have been rendered by Anup Jalota and Shashi Chopra. He has penned a foot-tapping bhangra wedding song for Gurinder Chadha's film Bride and Prejudice with music by Anu Malik.
Born in India, he moved to Kenya to start his broadcasting career in 1956; and in 1974 he migrated to Britain where he again excelled in broadcasting and other cultural activities. To mark his 70th birthday, a legacy volume, The Fragrance of Chaman was published by Newstech Publishing Inc — www.newstechglobal.com — which presented his challenges and achievements in words and photos. Hand bound in leather and boxed, this volume became a family heirloom treasured by his relatives and close friends. The book that I gladly wrote has set a benchmark for overseas Indians to record their success against heavy odds.
Broadcasting is what Chaman has been associated with and is famous for. It is as natural to him as breathing. His easy and friendly style makes an instant connection with the listener or viewer and he talks his way into their hearts. Talking on the air waves, he has built bridges of understanding between different countries and communities. Wielding his recording microphone, he has travelled to many countries and continents, interviewed world leaders, mega stars of the screen and stage and celebrities.
As a radio/TV announcer, Chaman has always been in the spotlight. His showbiz connections have seen him in various roles, as an acclaimed master of ceremonies at some of the biggest events in the UK; and in India he has been seen him in the company of some of Indian cinema's living legends and renowned poets and writers. These maestros, classical artistes, musicians, playback singers and other creative talents have all been presented by Chaman at various concerts.
He has contributed immensely to create understanding between British, Indian and African cultures. As the Project Manager, Ealing Community Relations Council, he advised ethnic minorities who do not know English well. As Founder-Organiser, he established Hounslow Multi Cultural Centre under Hounslow Community Relations Council to promote multi-cultural understanding through the medium of dance, drama, music, poetry and international cuisine. His poems, popular in Britain, India, Kenya and Pakistan, have brought these cultures together.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's and Pakistan's independence, he penned a play, Saare Jahan Se Achha. Its title came from a poem by the famous Urdu poet Iqbal, which emphasised the sentiment that Hindustan was better than any other country. The play was directed by famous Punjabi writer Balwant Gargi while Chaman's good friend, Jagjit Singh, provided the music. No wonder it was a major success when it was performed in London and other cities in Britain in 1997 and 1998.
For the last two years, Chaman has been active in organising an annual reunion of veteran Kenya broadcasters in London and these have proved to be a great success in bringing together long lost friends and colleagues.
Chaman, literally meaning a garden, continues to bloom.
— Kul Bhushan
British Sikh Association
Celebrating the Guru and his teachings
The British Sikh Association (BSA) celebrated the Guru Nanak Prakash Diwas and the 12th anniversary of the World Sikh University London. The event, held at the Days Inn Hotel, Ruislip, on November 22, 2009 was attended by over 350 guests including students of the World Sikh University and Khalsa College London.
The guest of honour was the High Commissioner of India to Britain, His Excellency Nalin Surie, along with Mr Virendra Sharma MP, Mr Stephen Pound MP, and Mr. Asif Ibrahim, Minister Coordination at the Indian High Commission, UK.
The event started with a recitation of Gurbani Shabad followed by a cultural program and with the symbolic lighting of a diya (an auspicious light).
In his key note speech Nalin Surie praised the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Devji, for giving a set of rules which benefit the entire mankind. He said that Guru Nanak's teachings have become more important than ever in a world which is fast shrinking.
He went on to say that tolerance and coexistence are the most important teachings of Guru Nanak Devji. He also praised the work carried out by the World Sikh University in furthering the understanding of Indian culture and Sikh values.
Dr Rami Ranger MBE, Chairman of the British Sikh Association, paid tribute to Guru Nanak Devji for giving us new directions which are designed to guide us through an ever changing world. Sikh religion is an all inclusive religion which embraces the teachings of other faiths and discriminates against none. His message was simple: we are all children of one God regardless of gender and religion. Ranger also paid tribute to the leadership of Vice Chancellor Dr. Sukhbir Singh Kapoor for making the World Sikh University a world class institution in just 12 years.
Dr Sukhbir S. Kapoor, Vice Chairman of the World Sikh University and Secretary General of the British Sikh Association, spoke of the achievements of the institution. He paid particular tribute to his team led by Dr. Madhavi Amdeker and Dr Jagjit Kaur Sirha.
Mrs Kailash Kaur, an educationalist, was recognised by the British Sikh University for her outstanding service over many years in the field of education.
Signaler Simranjit Singh, a Queen's Guard, was honoured for services to Queen and Country. Simranjit Singh has previously served at the Tower of London Protecting the Crown Jewels including the Kohinoor Diamond.
The vote of thank was given by the Vice Chairman of the BSA, Mr Hardyal S. Luther.