Punjab

On mission to teach Gurmukhi to Pak kids

December 17, 2018 01:37 PM

In Pakistan, where a group of private schools had banned Punjabi two years ago, terming it a “foul language”, a 74-year-old native of Kalyanpur village in Jalandhar is facilitating Gurmukhi lessons for hundreds of children through his staff according to the tribune.

Hari Singh Aulakh, who has been a resident of Canada for the past 49 years, visits Pakistan every year to supervise his initiative. His team teaches Gurmukhi to Sikh and non-Sikh residents of Pakistan, a country where many schools have even frowned upon the idea of teaching Punjabi. Aulakh’s efforts have given a new lease of life to the language in the region.

A school that he set up at Nankana Sahib holds a regular period on Gurmukhi for Sikh, Hindu, Christian and Muslim students. While a majority of these are Sikhs and Hindus, at least five per cent of these students are Muslims.

Starting with a bunch of 15 to 20 kids at Nankana Sahib, Aulakh’s little project has now turned into a movement. As many as 600 children of Pakistan are now learning Gurmukhi under his initiative.

A makeshift unit at Nankana Sahib has become a full-fledged school. Set up in 2001, Guru Nanak Model High School now has about 500 children who are getting regular lessons in Gurmukhi.

Aulakh’s classes are now being held at two places in Nankana Sahib, two places in Sialkot and in Peshawar. Barring a school in Nankana Sahib, evening classes are held at gurdwaras in other places.

Retired as a Quality Control Inspector in Canada, Aulakh, says, “Our family was from Lyallpur in Pakistan. The town is now known as Faisalabad. We visited it on Gurpurab in 1969 and from then, I have visited Pakistan every year.”

Aulakh, who also has a rare collection of Nanakshahi coins, has also set up a library at Nankana Sahib where many Sikh scriptures such as ‘Gutka Sahib’ have been arranged.

He adds, “Initially, it started off with 15 to 20 kids — Hindu migrants from Balochistan — who were doing menial labour for Rs 50. I wanted to rehabilitate them so we started providing them meals, books, shoes and started teaching Gurmukhi to them. Slowly, I sourced teachers from local Sikh families from Peshawar.”

 
 
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