Prominent revolutionary Punjabi poet Sant Ram Udasi was remembered at an event held at Guru Ravidas Temple, Burnaby this past Sunday. Udasi, who gave voice to the oppressed classes through his radical songs, had died on November 6, 1986 leaving behind a legacy of progressive narrative.
To mark his death anniversary, the Chetna Association of Canada, a group of Dalit activists advocating for the rights of the so called untouchables in India organized a public event where speakers paid tributes to Udasi.
Udasi came into prominence during the ultra leftist Naxal movement of 1970s that was joined by those from the oppressed classes. Being a Dalit himself Udasi had to endure both caste based discrimination and police brutality during that period.
He had been to Canada in 1979 on the invitation of Indian People’s Association in North America that also released album of his fiery songs.
Among the prominent speakers at the event was former BC Premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who very candidly questioned why this event could not be held by any of the local Punjabi literary societies? He wanted to know why only Dalits were compelled to organize an event for a person like Udasi, who stood for the entire mankind?
Others who spoke on the occasion included Varinder Dabri, Jai Birdi, a local prominent poet Amrit Diwana and author Sadhu Binning.