Shuranjeet Singh: Introducing Disabilities in Focus - Punjabi and Sikh Communities

This series comes from a place of reflection, frustration, and a desire to see social change

Shuranjeet Singh
October 25, 2021 | 2.5 min. read | Disabilities in Focus Part 1

Currently, Sikh and Punjabi communities are organising more around intersectional justice, LGBTQ+ issues, and caste oppression. These articles stand alongside such developments to centre the knowledge and insights of people living with disabilities within the context of Punjabi and Sikh communities. This series comes from a place of reflection, frustration, and a desire to see social change.

As someone who doesn’t live with a disability, I have been reading and learning more about such topics I have previously overlooked. At the beginning of April 2021, I read this piece by Allison Wallis which considers the importance of accessibility within Jewish spaces and outlines a number of practical steps communities can take. I had seen some conversations around disabilities within Punjabi and Sikh communities, but wanted to try and bring people together for a more collective, multi-dimensional approach.

In early April I connected with several individuals from Sikh and Punjabi communities living with disabilities who were interested in writing on the topic. Thank you to all of those who contacted me.

I had originally planned on supporting one writer from ideation to implementation, but we ended up with a group of four, all with particular interests, topics, experiences, but a common motivation to amplify the voices of people living with disabilities with a view to social change.

We met every three weeks and, slowly, we learned more about each others’ journeys. These articles were written with attention, conscience, care, reflection, and love. We humbly present our series, Disabilities in Focus: Punjabi and Sikh communities

The series will include articles by four authors who have also shared what planning and writing this series has meant to them in terms of contemplation and connection:

Jasmeet Kaur, who considers the place of Gurbanee and Sikh praxis with regards to disabilities; 

“home. through this experience, i came home to sikh sisters that live and experience things like i do. i didn’t have to embrace silence, i could use my voice because Shuranjeet created a space where i mattered.”

One of the authors shares reflections drawing on their lived experiences of disabilities within Punjabi and Sikh communities; 

“This experience is the first in which I was given creative expression一actually any type of expression outside the doctor’s office一to explore how my lived experiences have affected the narrative I use to describe my own life. And yes, that included being able to voice the difficulties I have faced growing up without feeling guilty. To you all, thank you! Thank you all for compassionately holding and guiding me through Sikh praxis.”

Sarbjot Kaur, who shares reflections on stigma within South Asian communities through caring for her son Mehtab who lives with a disability; 

And Sukhjeen Kaur (@chronicbrown), who considers the importance of accessibility in Sikh spaces:

“Pacing the work over a few months hasn’t only been great for my mental and physical health, it also allowed me to create relationships with the people we were working with. The new life-long relationships I created in this safe space is the best thing I’ve taken away from this needed work and believe it translates into the flow between the pieces and artwork”

We hope that this series continues to build understanding, compassion, thought, and action around disabilities within Punjabi and Sikh communities. We hope to see more attention within both online and physical spaces which work towards equity for all marginalized peoples. 

Following this series we will continue building the conversation. If you are interested in getting involved with disability advocacy within Punjabi, Sikh and South Asian communities please complete this form and we will be in contact with further opportunities to get involved.

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Shuranjeet Singh (he/him) is the founder and director of Taraki which works with Punjabi communities to reshape approaches to mental health, you can find him on Twitter @Shuranjeet.


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