Manika, a devotional Sikh singer, wants to bring light to lockdown

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By Minreet Kaur

Manika Kaur, a devotional singer-songwriter who has dedicated her life to Sikhism, releases her fourth album next month.

Ek, meaning oneness, was recorded when she was expecting twins. “In this album, I explore different experiences from my life,” she says. “My strong beliefs, womanhood, love of family and a world without egos.”

Manika Kaur was born in Melbourne, Australia and now lives in London. Few women were singing kirtan — Sikh hymns from the holy scripture — when Manika started and she felt it was a calling. She finds that singing devotional songs has helped her to open to her inner essence.

She says: “In the most turbulent times of my life I have found shelter within this inner sanctuary that kirtan has brought to me. Sharing that with others and hopefully bringing a sense of stillness to those who listen to my music,  enables me to feel purposeful.

“Misery comes when we are unaware of our divine self and that causes us to live fearfully as we create the ego and then we desperately try to protect that ego, a false self.”

After her marriage in 2006, she moved to Dubai and it was there she recorded her first album, Bandhanaa, which was made in collaboration with Sukhbir Singh, known as “Prince of Bhangra”, a music genre that was born in the British Punjabi community. Sales of Bandhanaa raised £200,000 which was donated to the construction of the Guru Nanak Darbar temple in Dubai.

All money raised from Manika’s albums and creative work goes to her charity, Kirtan for Causes. Among its aims are educating impoverished children, building homes and working to understand and meet the needs of communities living in poverty in Punjab.

In a project to bring light in the pandemic, she created a campaign to encourage children from all backgrounds to recite the Mool mantra, the opening section of the sacred text, which she hopes will allow young minds to “find the magic within” in times of isolation.

During lockdown she has held several Facebook and Instagram meditation and kirtan sessions and released old private videos of herself rehearsing Sikh hymns. Now she is writing her first book, which features many stories about the Sikh gurus. Researching them, she says, has deepened her faith.

Ek is released on 16 April. Magic Mantra, the first single with a video  will be out on 19 March.

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