Founder President of SNM Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE
M.A., B.Ed., Sangeet Parveen, Sangeet Bhaskar
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE is an inspirational woman and has a multifarious career. She has been very successful in her various professions as teacher, business woman, bilingual children’s writer, musician, choir convener and community worker.
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE had her education in India and was an English Teacher/Music Lecturer back at home. She came to the United Kingdom in 1968 for teaching and taught in the primary schools in the UK for many years. Her talent for music and writing poetry/children songs was recognized by her head teacher and she was given the responsibility for music in the school that was instrumental in her writing career and her interfaith work. She has also had the experience of working as a Youth Leader of a Young Girls Association, London and presenting a Punjabi programme at BBC WM radio station.
A great devotional singer, an accomplished speaker, a prolific multilingual writer, she has thirty five bilingual books in Punjabi/English and Urdu/English to her credit and has recorded over three dozen devotional and cultural cassettes. She is a pioneer with her new methodology for the teaching of Punjabi language, Gurbani recitation and Shabd Keertan. She is the first devotional singer who explains the meanings of the Shabds she sings in English and Punjabi both thus younger generation and the host community can understand the universal teachings of Sikhism. She has been awarded the prestigious “Pioneering Award” by Eastern Media Ltd, Birmingham.
She has made a significant contribution in the field of Education, children's literature, inter-faith, charity and community work, especially with Asian women and children and community at large. Since 1990 she has devoted her life in supporting the Sikh youth, women and raising awareness of Sikhism amongst the host community.
She has developed bilingual religious resources (talking books) for younger generation of Sikhs. To raise awareness of Sikhism amongst non-Sikhs she has written books such as “Sikh Hymns for Schools” and “My Sikh Colouring Book”. For her pioneering religious literature for children, she has been honoured twice by the Shromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Amritsar in 1995 and 1997, by Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee in 1999 and also by many Gurdwaras and organisations in India, UK and other countries such as Canada, Germany, France, Holland and Belgium etc.
She has developed bilingual teaching materials and written 35 books in Punjabi/English and Urdu/English specific to the needs of the children born and bred in the UK such as Asian Nursery Songs, Songs We Can All Join In and Festival Songs etc. These books enhance the education of the young British Asians as well as create bilingual resources for main stream and supplementary schools. For her outstanding contribution to the children’s literature, she was honoured with “Shromani Baal Sahitkaar” (Best Children’s Writer) by the Government of Punjab in 1997 that included a Gold Medal, One Lakh Rupees and a Recitation. It was the first time that a non-resident Indian was selected for this award.
In 1998 she opened the doors of her own house to enable women to come together and sing Gurbani, when they might otherwise find it difficult to get out of their own homes regularly. Women of all ages from 10 to 60+ from all backgrounds, who have never sung a note before, are trained to sing in a choir and no knowledge of Punjabi is required to sing the songs as she transliterates and translates every thing in English. Her pioneering bilingual music is in much demand as it breaks the barriers and builds bridges in our multi-faith community. The choir has performed at many prestigious events all over the country such as Royal Albert Hall, London in the presence of His Highness Prince Charles and Symphony Hall, Birmingham in the presence of the Prime Minister of the time, Tony Blair in 1999. BBC World Service produced a special programme on its unique style of devotional music in 2000. The choir was invited to India to receive Bhai Mardana Award for its bilingual music in 2002 by Bhai Mardana International Society. It performed at many prestigious Keertan Darbars (devotional music events) all over India where its music was much appreciated. The choir performs regularly and raises funds for the community activities.
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE founded a Sikh women’s group - Sikh Nari Manch in 1998 that aims to empower women of all ages and backgrounds, particularly of Sikh faith and Asian background, to raise their self esteem and enhance their basic skills, their knowledge of services that are available, through conferences, seminars, workshops, artistic events and residential camps etc. It became a Registered Charity in 2002 and has received Queen’s Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service for the community at large in 2006.
To raise awareness of their heritage and culture amongst younger generation she has created an exhibition on 'Prominent Sikh Women' that is the first of its kind in Sikh history. For her community work she was chosen as an outstanding woman from Europe to receive the most prestigious “Mata Sahib Kaur Award” at the tri-centenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa in 1999 by the Tercentenary Committee, Anand Pur Sahib, Punjab.
Every year she organises a sponsored walk to raise funds for charitable causes and has raised over £10,000 for Books in Prisons, Hospitals and Schools, Children in Need, Acorn Hospice, Disabled Children, Street Children, Interfaith Orphanage in Hyderabad, Diabetes and inter-faith luncheons where senior citizens from different religions got together for a meal, and entertainment as well as health awareness talks.
Every year She organises a spiritual residential weekend for women. Women of all ages and backgrounds come together from all over the country and every year 60-80 women participate in this spiritual retreat. These residentials promote their physical, mental and spiritual well being through workshops, yoga, meditation, singing, dancing and counselling etc and also give them a chance to meet people, make new friends and learn new skills.
To promote better understanding amongst other faiths she organises interfaith events such as Mata Tripta-Interfaith Mothers Day and Mata Sahib Kaur- Sikh Awareness Day every year and also participates in many seminars, religious and cultural programmes and gives talks on the role of the mother tongue in the child’s development, Sikh religion/philosophy and the contribution of women in Sikhism.
She worked as a Sikh Chaplain in the prisons for many years and is invited for talks by many churches and religious organisations. She also takes religious education and Music workshops in schools; supplementary schools and libraries to build bridges amongst younger generations.
She realised that there were no culturally sensitive facilities available to the Asian community in the North Birmingham area and the nearest such services for them were at least 8-10 miles away. In 2004 she organised a Feasibility Study of Erdington area that proved the need for these services. She started looking for premises to open a centre that will provide these services to the community and also create a friendly space for the isolated older women of the area. In 2006 she was successful in opening a centre at 176 Streetly Road in Erdington, In the spirit of Sikhi “Surbutt Da Bhulla” the centre was named “Northside Welcome Centre” to be inclusive.
The Centre is open to all and serves the whole community. It provides various activities such as yoga and meditation classes, ESOL classes for women, Computer classes including one-to-one tuition, IAG, Expert Patient Programme, English, Maths, sign-posting and well being workshops. To cater for the spiritual needs of the sikh community, it organises Punjabi Tots, Kirtan class, workshops on Sikhi and bilingual Diwans at Mata Tripta Darbar. The services are being increased as the demand comes from the community and since its opening, has become a hub for community cohesion at grass root level.
She is a very good apeaker and is invited by Sikh organisations, Gurdwaras, women organisations, churches and interfaith organisations to speak on Sikhiasm and women related issues. She also organises Focus Groups of Asian women for research purposes and has helped many students with research topics including the Home Office for its Diversity Report.
She has been honoured for her work with women and grass root community by many organisations. Over the years she has received many awards, the most prestigious being "UNSUNG HERO" Queens Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service in the community that was given to her in 2006 for her work with women and the community at large. She has been listed in "Indians Abroad","Asians in the Millenniun" and "Asian Who's Who International". She has been interviewed many times by National and International radios, magzines and newspapers and many articles have been written about her. She has participated in numerous media programmes on education and religion.
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE is a true symbol of the composite multi-culture of this land that has played a vital role in strengthening community cohesion, universal sisterhood and equality in this multi-race society through her music as well as educational, religious and cultural writings and her work with women and families. The penetrating impact of her work has earned her a wide reputation in UK, India and the western hemisphere. For information on her books, please visit; hdsikhpublishers.com
Bibi Gurdev Kaur has been awarded an OBE for her voluntary work with Sikh and Asian women. It was the first time that a Sikh women was heading the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2009 and is awarded an OBE for her work with Sikh and Asian women.
Bibi Gurdev Kaur OBE has a choir and performs regularly at Gurdwaras, homes and interfaith concerts in the UK and abroad. She is a bilingual preacher and enthralls her younger and older listeners alike by playing beautifully on the keyboard, singing modern compositions based on Ragas and explaining everything in English and Punjabi both. She is invited to many celebrations by Sikh families as youngsters love her Kirtan and she is invited to perform many weddings especially the mixed race marriages. Even though she has been recording her music for many years, its recently that she has started to upload her music on YouTube. Her newly recorded videos have subtitles in English and Punjabi both. You can listen to her music on;