"Ahimsa Music tour Celebrates Non-Violence, Sikh
"SAN FRANCISCO - "The more people see each
other's cultures, the more we all realize how similar
our cultures are," Vijay Chattha, organizer of the
Ahimsa Music tour here last week told India-West.
Chatta and organizers Tejas Patel, Prem Kumta
and Nihal Mehta kept this realization in mind as they
hosted the all-day eclectic music, film, and dance event
at the Sony Metreon April 21.
Hundreds of young hip music, film, and dance
enthusiasts from all backgrounds turned out to support
the cause of non-violence in the face of hate crimes.
As people streamed in and out of the day-long even, deep
grooves played in the background as people mingled, etc.,
and enjoyed the sun and open dance floor.
The 'Global Sight & Sound: South Asia'
event was a collaboration of the Ahimsa Music Tour and
the Smithsonian Sikh Project, which brought together an
abundance of live performances by such artists as DJ Cheb
I Sabbah, Vertigo, DJ Janaka, and Lal Singh Bhatti, among
others, who came together to promote the philosophies
of peace, non-violence and understanding.
"We chose the name ahimsa for what it
means in the Buddhist and Jain traditions, which is the
philosophy of non-violence," Mehta told India-West.
"A lot of people since Sept. 11 needed
money immediately in the wake of the backlash, and this
[the Ahimsa Music Tour] was a good way to raise it,"
The Ahimsa Fund, the blanket organization of the music
tour bearing the same name, essentally has five goals
and causes involving the battle against hate crimes. The
organization aims to help in the development of a memorial
to Balbir Singh Sodhi, the Sikh gas station owner slain
in the aftermath of Sept. 11 in Mesa, AZ,; to help the
family of Waquar Hasan, who was also shot to death the
same day in Dallas, TX.; to rase money to launch the Smithsonian
Silk Heritage Project in Washington, D.C.; and to investigate
other aspects of awareness for the South Asian community.
As the young faces in the crowd proved, the
new generation of SouthAsian Americans, who are coming
of age now, seemed much more open to one another than
the first wave of immigrants in the 60s aand 70s. Hindus,
Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains -- they all mingled together
comfortably, notiing their differences while embracing
their similarites and celebrating the collective experiences
of being South Asian in America.
"This tour has really become a platform
for us to learn more about South Asian culture,"
said Chattha. "We're all exposed to one another's
heritages," he added.
The organizers are open-minded abou t who
they showcase in their shows. Although the majority of
musicians are South Asian, there are other people and
cultures represented as well, such as the Capoeira USA
dance troupe, a group of dancers who study the old Brazilian
tradition of self-defense through the art of dance.
Another motivation behind the Ahimsa Fund's work is to
be able to give up and coming musicians a place and a
stage to be heard, and Chattha says he would like to convert
this music tour to a record label.
"We want to creat a similar platform
here in the U.S. that Talvin Singh has created in the U.K.,
and right now, Indian culture happens to be in,"
Chattha told India-West.
As Chattha, Mehta, Patel and Kumta look ahead, they hope
to continue creating visibility for South Asians in the
music industry while promoting the philosophies that the
organization was founded on.
"There was a need for something
like this -- we're looking forward to going on to L.A.,
New York and other cities," said Chattha. "We
want to make Ahimsa Music Tour a household name,"