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‘Roots of Love’ film in Surrey focuses on hair fashion, turban traditions among Sikh men

Also planned is a ‘Braiding Stories’-themed Family Art Party on Sunday, March 10
A scene from the film “Roots of Love.” (Photo courtesy Harjant Gill)

At Surrey Art Gallery, film screenings and conversations untangle hair as a cultural symbol for beauty and belonging, followed by a “Braiding Stories”-themed Family Art Party.

Next up is an afternoon of “Roots of Love,” Harjant Gill’s 27-minute documentary about the changing significance of hair and turbans among Sikhs in India, on Saturday, March 2, starting at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

“We see younger Sikh men abandoning their hair and turban to follow the current fashion trends, while the older generation struggles to retain the visible symbols of their religious identity,” says a synopsis of the 2011 film on the director’s website, where it can be viewed.

The film, told from the perspectives of six Sikh men aged 14 to 86, is in Punjabi and English with subtitles.

It’s described as “a timely and relevant exploration of these inherent conflicts between tradition and modernity, between pragmatism and faith. The choice of cutting one’s hair is one that not only concerns the individual and his family, but an entire community.”

The screening March 2 will be followed by a conversation involving director Gill, artist Kiranjot Kaur and Suvi Bains, SAG’s associate curator.

Bains assembled the gallery’s current group show “un/tangling, un/covering, un/doing,” which explores the rituals, traditions and politics of hair, closing March 17.

The multimedia art show features the work of Audie Murray, Rebecca Bair, Wally Dion, Clare Yow, Sharon Norwood, Sarindar Dhaliwal, Karin Jones, Baljit Singh, Kiranjot Kaur and Natasha Kianipour. The artists have a variety of cultural backgrounds including Indigenous, Black, South Asian and Chinese.

“They have their own complex histories with hair and their own personal experiences with it,” Bains noted.

At SAG on Feb. 21, Surrey-based Black Arts Centre co-hosted a screening of Spike Lee’s R-rated “School Daze” film, in celebration of Black History Month.

Also planned is a “Braiding Stories”-themed Family Art Party on Sunday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with artmaking, storytelling and interactive dance performances. Children must be accompanied by an adult at the free drop-in event.

Sculpt, make art and play with poetry “to share complex stories that reflect on hair,” says an event advisory. Create a sculpture in the art studio using fibre braiding techniques, hear stories by Kiranjot Kaur and settle in the gallery’s current reading nook. Also, join a 30-minute interactive “Interweave” performance with contemporary dancer-choreographers, Kaili Che and Carla Alcántara. Pick up free tickets on arrival to reserve a spot at noon or 1:30 p.m.

The gallery is at 13750 88 Ave., at Bear Creek Park, Surrey. Visit for details, or call 604-501-5566.

Also on view there, until April 21, is “Art by Surrey Elementary School Students,” a biennial exhibit showcasing “the variety and depth of art education in Surrey School District.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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