Ustad Sital Singh Sitara Awarded MBE
The new years honours lists has it’s pros and cons, not to mention the archaic link to the word ‘Empire’. However, sometimes you read a name on the list and cannot help but feel ecstatic.
Three generations of Sikhs, perhaps thousands of UK Sikhs, over a span of 50 years have learnt Kirtan from Giani Sital Singh Sitara.
Like many, founder of Sikhs Online, Mann Matharu had the pleasure of meeting with Mr Sitara on several occasions, normally when he would be walking from Leyton underground station to the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Leyton and Mann would either drive him or walk arm-in-arm ensuring his safe arrival at the Gurdwara for him to conduct his lessons.
Blind at birth, Ustad Sital Singh never let that hinder his independence and his tenacity to travel on public transport with his Baja and Tabla (harmonica and percussion set). He travelled the length and breath of the UK, from one Gurdwara to another, ensuring that he never let his students down.
He always made sure his students got the prominent stage time at Gurdwaras to perform. When the Gurdwara stage secretary would only permit 5 minutes to the children, Ustad ji made sure it became 15 minutes and all his students experienced singing kirtan in Sangat roop.
He made learning Kirtan accessible during a time we risked losing our identity. Perhaps, he has never received the Panthic recognition he deserves but he will always be special in the hearts of thousands.
The picture above shows Lord Bilston awarding Sital Singh Sitara an award for his contribution towards Punjabi Music Education.
Regardless of whether he receives a Queens award, the UK Sikhs are indebted to his lifetime of contribution.
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