Malkiat Singh /India

versión en español

Soul of Sikhism                                                                                                                                             

A fierce warrior, a devout pilgrim and a humble servant of Wahe Guru. The Sikhs are all that and then some more. Their turbans and untrimmed hair make them stand out in a crowd. And they rise head and shoulders above by their enterprising nature and high spirits. For a religion barely 500 years old, Sikhism has evolved tremendously as a community binding religion. These soulful photographs of the many faceted Sikh people are a tribute to these honest, hardy, humble and honorable people who lead by example, share without disparity and offer unconditional support to the weak and deprived.

We see them as the intense Nihangs who celebrate the eternal victory of good over evil at the Hola Mohalla festival. This festival is an emblematic celebration of a military victory over the enemy, a spectacle of revelry on conquering. The exuberantly tossed colors epitomize the typical Sikh high spirits and the mock battles and skilled displays portray their combative prowess. Known to be Guru Govind Singh's favored and trusted warriors, the Nihangs preserve their heritage and traditions across time, with the fierceness and pride unique to a born combatant.

The same Sikhs are the benevolent and humble Kar Sewaks who clean the Holy Sarovar, an act that symbolizes faith and reverence at the very summit of devotion. Kar Seva epitomizes this sense of devotion through conspicuous physical labor. Harimandir Sahib is Sikhism's temporal and spiritual epicenter and de-silting its surrounding Sarovar is equitable with the highest form of service. Distinctions of status, gender and age vanish as a million hands toil as one, to scratch, scrape and scoop out the once submerged sediment. Each individual dissolves with the rest to emerge metamorphosed into a colossal force, impelled forth as an upsurge of ordained souls abounding in faith and commitment.

And they are the pious pilgrims to Hemkunt Sahib who ascend on wings of faith, gaining strength from their devotion and totally surrendering their soul into His hands. The climb up the steep, unrelenting track to the Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara is symbolic of the effort and resolution needed to attain one's sacred ideal. The stony path is witness to years of the devout, the acquiescent and the inquisitorial trudging over it. And for all who walk this path, it becomes a journey of expressing one's faith in Wahe Guru, an affirmation of the covenant of faith that binds the Sikh community together.

Sandeep Goswami

Curators Statement- Soul of Sikhism- Malkiat Singh

Malkiat Singh's documentation of the Sikh community is a visual journey of an ardent visual storyteller, who is also a strong follower of the discipline and faith. He has travelled extensively spanning almost 2 decades to live and experience every aspect of the life of various sects of Sikhism, exploring and searching for a deeper meaning within their distinctive world.

Malkiat's work aesthetically offers an insight into their vibrant festivals, rich culture, spiritual ethos, their firm sense of belonging as a community as well as their colorful yet traditional and simple way of life

©Sandeep Biswas

Malkiat Singh has been capturing the rich colors of the Indian life and culture for more than two decades. The photography of Sikh sacred space has been his passion. He remains ever enthralled by the deeply moving interplay between the spiritual and the customary lives of the Sikh community. He took up photography as a full time vocation following his graduation in fine arts from the Shilpa Bharti {Rajasthan College of Arts). Eventually he also earned his post graduation in the same subject. Among the numerous citations and awards conferred upon him for excellence in photography, there are the UP State Lalit Kata Akademi Award for Art Photography and the Sahitya Kala Parishad awards. His work has been a part of various state and national level exhibitions of the Laiit Kala Akademi. Credited as a photographer with numerous books to his name, his medium of expression remains his vision through his lens. Some of his foremost books are 'The Great Glory -Sikhism' published by Rupa & Co, 'Banda Singh Bahadur' and Guru Granth Sahib-The Guru Eternal', both by Himalayan Books. A series of coffee table books for Uttarakhand Tourism titled 'Uttarkashi-Blessed by the Himalayas', 'Ganga -The River Eternal' and 'Tehri Garhwal -Kingdom in the Clouds' being the notables amongst them. Another has been a large format coffee table book titled 'DAV - A Way of Life' done for the DAV College Management Committee. Malkiat has also done autobiographical coffee table books titled, 'Hero Sant Satyanand Munjal' for the family of HERO GROUP and 'Haldiram Bhujiawala to Global Haldiram's' for the family of HALDIRAM GROUP.

Another coffee table book titled 'Story Of Punjab National Bank' was done for Punjab National Bank on the occasion of their 125th Foundation Year Celebration. A coffee table book titled, "The Eternal Truth" was done for Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Ministry of Culture Govt. of India on the occasion of 550th Year Birth Celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. A coffee table book titled "Glory of Guru Nanak Dev Ji" was done for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee at the occasion of the 550th Year Birth Celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Malkiat Singh has also been a major contributor for cover stories for Nishaan, a magazine publication dedicated to the Sikh community. His photographic works are listed by and on display at The Harvard Art Museum in Massachusetts, USA. Malkiat's photography is a captivatingly intense fusion of art and factualism, deep and compelling in its soulful beauty. His work is peppered with a heartfelt conviction for the subject and is replete with beguiling details that capture the underlying spirit of places and people in their all encompassing wholesomeness.