Sajid Khan questions Sikh Tradition

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Bir Khalsa Group Beginning

On 31 July 2010 in the TV Show "India's Got Talent", the Series 2 Judge Sajid Khan, a Bollywood director said that "Sikhs should not give swords to their kids as it sets wrong example for kids who are watching them on TV". He made his comments after watching a performance by the Sikh Jatha "Bir Khalsa Gatka Dal", a Gatka Group from Tarn Taran which performed the Sikh Martial Art called Gatka on the Colors Channel.

The Jatha had performed with great enthusiasm, to loud cheers from the audience. All three judges watched with rapt attention as the group even included some amazing acrobatics with one member even giving a fire eating performance.

Reaction of the judges

While the two female judges showed an occasional sign of fear, Kirron Kerr even used the pallu of her sari to hide her face during some of the more dramatic action on the stage, judge Sajid Khan had sat with a blank expression on his face while the masterfully choreographed fight sequences, flashed across the stage.

However when 5 year old started to spar with the 9 or so year old boy twice his height, Khan hit his button flashing the red X , signalling the group's only negative vote.

Sajid Khan thought that it was wrong to have a 5 year old child using a sword on stage, that it would set a bad example to children across the country and would promote violence like this.

The Gatka jatha (group)

Manpreet Singh

Kawaljit Singh, the leader of the Jatha said that gatka was only for self defense and that even children needed to learn to protect themselves. Kirron Kher, the wife of Anupam Kerr, who has played a Sikh more than once in her movies, was obviously more familiar with Sikh traditions.

She tried to impress on Khan that the martial art was only for defense and that as the Jatha leader had stated, it was far better at keeping the kids of Punjab from turning to drugs and alchohol. Kerr even yelled out the Sikh cry Jo Bole So Nihaal, which got a resounding response from the stage, and the mixed audience as well.

The debate

The participants further stated that the martial skills of the Sikhs was for Self Defense only and said that they would also continue to teach the skill to their kids, as this was also the command of Guru Gobind Singh; to remain ready (Tyar Bar Tyar) for any situation, including this, as well.

Kirron Kher and Sonali Bendre (the other judges) agreed to pass the Jatha on to the next round of the competition, each with a resounding Yes. However they had one condition, that the Jatha not include the two children in their next performance. Group admits, but not aplogized and said in loud voice that they will play like this only.

After the group had left the stage, Kirron Kher kept up her pressure on Sajid Khan to understand that the Sikh martial art was not about spreading violence, but Sajid Khan had closed his mind to any further discussion; he shouted one more time as he walked of the set. One viewer was left wondering if the whole thing was just a publicity stunt designed to increase the audience at the expense of the Sikh group.

In the News

There were other discussions too:

Topnew's website said, But the actor-director Sajid doesn't like the dangerous performances of small children with harmful weapons like swords in their hands. He expressed his (in) sensitivity towards a martial arts group from Punjab, which used swords and exhibited their fighting skills. As the performance was liked by Kiron Kher, thus, a minor argument started between the two and Sajid left the set.

Sources also said, Sajid's comment ticked Kirron off. She, not being the one to take it lying down, gave him a good dose. The argument went so overboard that Sajid left the jury podium and walking off sets!

Online Forums Responses:

People were stunned, one can find this on online forums: Sajid was ignorant of Sikh culture and Tradition, thats why he showed this behavior. Before this performance belly dance was going on in which girls were shaking their hips and bellies, does that set anything to indian culture?

In many forums, People commented that bollywood shows thousand of rape scenes, fights, nude scenes, does this set a good example for kids?

Some people also said that the Bir Khalsa Group Should not continue on in a show that ridicules someone's culture or traditions, on any condition. Sajid himself does adult comedy on shows, even telling Sardarji jokes in his movies.

Some people commented that it's just for TRP nothing else.

Color TV in trouble

Sajid's reaction as 7 yr old Manpreet Singh was performing

Sajid Khan’s Gatka comment gets Color TV in trouble, By Yashika kapoor - August 5, 2010 (

Sajid Khan would never have dreamt that his statement for 'India’s Got Talent' contestant Manpreet Singh's Gatka performance as ‘violent for his age’ would get both, the show and the channel, in trouble.

But his remarks have offended the Gatka Federation of India (GFI) and Punjab Gatka Association (PGA), who seek an apology from Colors TV and the reality show’s judge Sajid Khan. The organizations have also urged the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to take severe action in the matter that resulted in 7-year-old Manpreet Singh’s elimination from the reality show.

GFI General Secretary H S Grewal and PGA Joint Secretary Jagmohanjit Singh said that judge Sajid Khan's reaction to the Gatka performance by the kid, had deeply hurt the feelings of the Sikh community. Grewal defended Gatka and said, "It is an art by which one becomes extremely graceful and brings dignity, divinity, grace and self defense."

He also related that the Punjab Education Department had incorporated Gatka in schools, colleges and universities, adding: "As school children exhibits Gatka sports in the competitions so it is absurd to exclude little children from the show.” The Gatkebaaz and Sikh panth have been informed about the matter and they have been asked to force Colors channel to apologize for the wrongful comment and elimination of the kid from the show.

Sajid Khan tenders apology

Sajid Khan

From the Tribune, Punjab / Amritsar, August 10

After the intervention of the SGPC, Sajid Khan, one of the judges of TV reality show “India’s Got Talent”, has tendered an apology for his remarks on the performance of Sikh martial art- Gatka - by seven-year-old boy Manpreet.

Sajid Khan apologizes to Sikh community

BIGOYE News Network - Aug 10, 2010

‘Housefull’ fame director Sajid Khan has apologized to the Sikh community after he opposed the idea of performing Gatka (a martial arts dance form of the Sikhs) by a 5-year-old. His comments came on the show ‘India’s Got Talent’ where he is a judge.

Sajid’s comment had enraged the Gatka Federation of India (GFI) and Punjab Gatka Association (PGA), which asked for an apology from Sajid and the television channel, Colors.

“It is a case of plain misunderstanding. I was only concerned about the five-year-old getting hurt. And of little children at home who obviously aren’t that skilled,” Sajid said.

“I completely respect and understand their (Sikh’s) rich tradition. I respect all religions and would never ever speak against the community. If anyone felt offended, I respectfully apologise a thousand times,” he added.

Sajid was recently in news for the same show when he walked out following an argument with co-judge Kirron Kher.