Open the Boston Globe today and you’ll see an article highlighting the attempts of various immigrant communities to maintain and preserve ties to their traditions and cultures. The Sikh and Indian generational experience is exemplified through little Sufi Kaur’s growing connection with the shabad and her interest in playing the harmonium under her mother’s instruction.

In Acton, a 7-year-old Sikh girl, accompanying herself on a harmonium under the direction of her mother, sings a hymn to the lord of light in the Punjabi language… With gentle encouragement from her mother, Sufi plays the harmonium, pumping with one hand and pressing the keyboard with the other, as she sings a Sikh devotional song.

Most of us are familiar with the harmonium and tabla, and teachers of the two instruments can be found nearly everywhere. The rubab, saranda, taus, saranda, sitar, and dilruba are also beautiful musical instruments through which the shabad comes alive. However, they are exceedingly rare to hear and appreciate as its musicians (and subsequently its teachers) are sadly few and far between.

Some are being taught arts common in their homes; others are learning skills that their parents never had a chance to study. Some youngsters are pushed by their parents; others have pushed their parents into finding teachers and classes for them.

Can we ensure that our language, music, and culture will survive the pressures of globalization and assimilation? Is it possible for “the ancient and the modern [to] blend seamlessly into a uniquely American lifestyle?” As long as we continue as individuals and a community to view this as our obligation to future generations, share our historical and spiritual knowledge with each other, and dedicate resources to doing so, I believe it is.

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