SIKH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2011: SHORTS
Pingalwara: A Special Home
Directed by: Gurmeet K. Sodhi
Produced by Sodhi Enterprises and Sikh Art & Film Foundation.
95 years ago, a messiah named Ramji Das who later became Bhagat Puran Singh, came into this world. He started a movement which was totally new in conception. This was no easy task. For fourteen long years he carried a spastic child – who later came to be known as Piara Singh - on his shoulders as they had no place to stay. This was a period of his baptism. He achieved godliness through his love for the human beings. Piara Singh was the first child of Pingalwara.
Bhagat Puran nourished the Sikh Act of Faith that to him was his deeds of altruism. With Sikhs, all deeds of altruism are acts of faith and altruism has been a Sikh's defining characteristic since its formative days. The altruistic acts include helping others, serving the needy, treating the sick, standing for justice, and selfless public service.
When you think of Pingalwara, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? A handicapped person? A destitute child? Someone taking their last breath in a corner of a room?
Many think of the same. But Pingalwara is not just that, it's much, much more. Every society has its share of its unfortunate individuals who are sick, disabled, forlorn, suffering and deserted by mankind. There are old people and new born babies no one wants to look after. There are disabled who are not admitted into any of the hospitals and are left to die on the roadside. There are diseased persons no one wants to touch. They all are the burden of our society but who is to look after them?
The word Pingalwara means a house or asylum for the disabled, handicapped or crippled.
Pingalwara is not an institution, it is a dynamic movement. Bhagat Ji did not lay down a number of pre-determined tasks; he propounded a philosophy which is the foundation of Pingalwara and covers the entire spectrum of social problems of our society.
Bhagat Puran Singh had adopted one son, Piara Singh, who was totally handicapped. He carried him in a wooden trolley or his shoulders all his life. He also had adopted a daughter, Dr. Inderjeet Kaur, who is his successor and one of the most inspiring individuals of the 20th century. She decided not to marry so that she could fulfill the task with utmost zeal and dedication. She’s the recepient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan for her work in the field of social service, among many other awards. But the highest award is the satisfaction she gets in service to humanity irrespective of caste and creed. In other words such souls are real saints as they shun publicity and keep serving.
Today Pingalwara not only offers housing to the diseased; terminally ill, orphans and many other destitute kids, it also has a proper schooling system from grade school to higher secondary schools. Bhagatji believed in the power of knowledge and education. Pingalwara offers free schooling to all its kids and to kids from neighboring villages who otherwise would not get any schooling. It also provides for all the school supplies along with transportation to and from school.
Pingalwara is not only helping its residents but also serving the community in a very big way. Pingalwara has also taken up yet another social service: cremating unclaimed dead bodies which are left on the roadside at times.
Bhagatji was a very environmentally cautious individual. And continuing his legacy, under Bibi Inderjeet’s Kaur’s guidance, Pingalwara is now doing organic farming. It has acres and acres of model farms where workers use the waste and remains of the animals from their farms and process it to use it as fertilizer in the fields. Similarly it started gas plants in which cow dung (waste) is used to produce cooking fuel, helping in keeping environment clean.
Today Pingalwara is not just a place for the handicapped or disabled. It is a Home to many that reside here. After being shunned from society - be it if they are handicapped, orphaned or terminally ill – they all find themselves with the same questions: Where do I go from here? Who can I lean on? And somehow they all found the same answer: Pingalwara. Pingalwara is the only place that welcomes them all with no questions asked. For some this is their last resting place and for some this is the stepping stone to a brighter future. Pingalwara is a Special Home that forever works to help in the formation of a healthy and humane society for us all.
Gurmeet K. Sodhi is a television host; producer and one of the youngest South Asian female to launch her own LIVE talk show. She is an icon in the international and entertainment communities. She has in recent times become somewhat of an ‘Indian Oprah’ among the South-Asian community in the US. Ms. Sodhi was recently invited by the President of United States of America - Barack Obama and First Lady – Michelle Obama to attend the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders Commission) reception at the White House. This is the first time an Indian Talk Show Host was invited to such an event at the White House. Her invitation to the reception is a testament and recognition of her work in the community.
With almost a decade of experience as a talk show host, Gurmeet K.Sodhi is known as one of the most influential woman in the South Asian Media community. She is recognized as a media personality and a household name with her unique style and execution of every episode. She has a huge global fan base and an international following. Audience of her show in India enthusiastically welcomed her in 2010 when she launched her first International Road Trip touring across various states and cities. She filmed episodes about social awareness, economic development, cultural richness, historical & religious landmarks amongst many other topics. During her trip she stayed at Pingalwara in Amritsar where she shot her documentary for her film – Pingalwara – A Special Home. She is working on several more films which will be releasing soon. She is also currently in the process of launching her new talk globally – Gurmeet Sodhi Show in 2012.