Examining the limits of “chardi kala”

A young girl holds a sign: "Chardi Kala - High Spirits". (source: Just Sikh)

A young girl holds a sign: “Chardi Kala – High Spirits”. (source: Just Sikh)

On the blog Critical Mourning Project: Oak Creek & Beyond, Balbir Kaur Singh presents an examination the Sikh ethos of chardi kala — the maintenance of high spirits and optimism especially in difficult times — as a healing mechanism particularly after the mass murder of six Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, last August:

To continually evolve without grieving and reflection is to depoliticize the process of mourning, and is shortsighted in its sense of self-protection. I offer then the alternative of critical mourning, as a way for Sikhs and anti-racist Others to think long-term about our political voices as a result of our chronic collective grieving for those dead or “socially dead”, in the words of Lisa Marie Cacho, at the hands of racist violence.

Balbir Kaur expands the concept of chardi kala from beyond the personal into the political and from beyond a process of healing and towards a process of empowerment.

Read the full excerpt here.


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