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De-Freezing 1930s Panjab Webinar :: Panjab Digital Library and Preservation through Digitization of Punjab and Sikh History and Heritage
Panjab Digital Library and Preservation through Digitization of Punjab and Sikh History and Heritage
De-Freezing 1930s Panjab Webinar

On 20 August, Davinder Pal Singh and Daljit Ami co-presented the webinar "De-Freezing 1930s Panjab." This webinar, hosted and facilitated by the Sikh Research Institute, focused on sharing one of PDL's surprise treasures: photographs taken by Bhai Dhana Singh on a bicycle tour of Panjab of various shrines. The presenters then attempted to visit those shrines again in modern times and see what had changed over the decades.

Bhai Dhana Singh was a devout Sikh who grew up in an orphanage in Patiala. After working in the royal garage for some time he started visited different religious sites. Realizing the importance of documentation, he bought a camera and some lessons in using it.

Bhai Dhana Singh was very particular about his notation to the delight of archivists today, recording a great deal of basic information on the back of each photo he took. In this way, his freeze frames represent not only a moment in particular time and space, but also create a reference point for multidimensional engagement.

Most of buildings documented by Bhai Dhana Singh have lost their 1930s shape. Some sites are presently unidentifiable as they have been demolished and reconstructed. The historic fort of Jamraud is out of bounds for visitors and photographers, because it is used as headquarters by the Pakistani army for NWFP. Most of the buildings could have been preserved with modest, but sincere, effort. Historic fort of Sri Anandgarh Sahib is one such magnificent building which has been lost because of particularly short sighted renovation and demolition campaigns of last 60 years.

Bhai Dhana Singh's photographs have taken an important place in the collection of Panjab heritage that PDL is proud to be able to share with the world. Bhai Dhana Singh's work was also presented at an exhibition in Chandigarh on World Photography Day (19 August). The show was jointly organized by PDL and Photo Artist Group.

The webinar was attended by Diwan Manna (Chairman, Lalit Kala Academy, Chandigarh), Neerja Shekhar (Director, Directorate of Census (Operations), Haryana), Chetan Premani (Deputy Director, Imtech Chandigarh), Ajmer Singh (Retd. Professor of History), Yashpal (Retd. Teacher and Trade Unionist) and various mediapersons among other dignitaries.

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Revealing the Invisible Heritage of Panjab