Pink Ladoos: empowering the community through dance

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Nach Balliye, a dance group, started a grassroots movement here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to celebrate the girl-child. Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

Nach Balliye, a dance group, started a grassroots movement here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to celebrate the girl-child.
Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

The recipe to create pink ladoos is quite simple. It’s passion mixed with equal parts dance and activism, served with a dollop of empowerment.

Pink ladoos are not just about adding a rose-coloured hue to a dessert; it’s an extraordinary idea that celebrates the girl child and her arrival into a world that’s bent on rejecting her. It’s about letting the entire community know the precious bundle of joy swaddled in blanket needs human warmth and love as much as the boy child.

Licensed commercial pilot Sumeet Gill, 29, started Pink Ladoos, a grassroots movement in Canada this past year after a chance meeting with Dr Harshinder Kaur, a world-renowned activist from India few years ago. Despite death threats on her life by disgruntled critics, Dr. Kaur continues to carry on a passionate crusade against female feticide.

A father brings his daughter to the Lohri for Her, an event in Toronto by Nach Balliye, that celebrates girls. Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

A father brings his daughter to the Lohri for Her, an event in Toronto by Nach Balliye, that celebrates girls.
Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

So impressed was Gill by the pediatrician from Patiala, India, she took time off from her work and followed her to Punjab. As Gill and the doctor travelled to remote villages talking to women, it became apparent the prejudice against girls was deep-rooted and stubbornly entrenched in the psyche of people. Horror turned to disbelief when Harshinder Kaur told Gill the gender ratio of boys to girls in Brampton, Ont. was even more distorted (higher) than that in Punjab.

“I was shocked when Dr. Harshinder Kaur told me the issue of female feticide was common here in Canada as well,” Gill said. “Her strategy was to reach out to youth in the GTA and appeal to them to reject old customs. I was very inspired by her. So, I arranged for her to come back and talk at a seminar I organized. At the seminar, the doctor spoke to us about the consequences of female feticide on the human race, not just one community. It was quite an eye opener.”

The talk lit a fire in the youth. Gill who was part of Nach Balliye, a dance group she and her friends formed to promote culture at that time, decided to use the power of dance to educate families. They turned Nach Balliye into a springboard of activism. Then, this past year, Gill and her friends started another grassroots movement in Canada—Pink Ladoos. The purpose of Pink Ladoos is to start a dialogue with Punjabi families shackled by outdated social norms.

How does it work? New parents, blessed with a girl register at Nach Balliye’s website. The Pink Ladoo team, dressed to the nines in traditional dresses, visits the home of the parents with a box of pink ladoos. Once there, they inject the home with with their dance and music. Then they connect with every member of the child’s family and talk to them about nurturing the girl.

“As a group we decided to come up with mechanisms to celebrate and focus on the positive,” said Gill. “We wanted to be part of the solution. I believe if we bang on doors long enough, they will open.”

Lohri is a harvest festival celebrated by the Punjabis. Lohri for Her, a grassroots movement recreates a scenic village in Punjab to host its annual event. Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

Lohri is a harvest festival celebrated by the Punjabis. Lohri for Her, a grassroots movement recreates a scenic village in Punjab to host its annual event.
Photo courtesy Nach Balliye

Dr. Harshinder Kaur serves as a GPS for the Canadians. While she continues to work—at the macro level — with various governments and international agencies such as United Nations (UN) orchestrating policy changes to curb female feticide, Nach Balliye is attempting to change the mindset of people at the micro level through Pink Ladoos and Lohri for Her, an annual event where the girl child is celebrated during the harvest festival of Lohri.

“We are not an event, we are a movement,” says Neeli Grewal, one of the members of Nach Balliye. “Pink Ladoos is a validation for the family to celebrate the girl-child. Our vision is to raise awareness of the issue of gender-selection by going door to door. Our movement is already creating a ripple effect. In just few years, we hope to make Lohri for Her a Canada-wide initiative with events taking place simultaneously across different cities in Canada.”

For more information visit http://www.lohriforher.com.

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One thought on “Pink Ladoos: empowering the community through dance

  1. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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