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Komagata Maru
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Historical traumas such as the Komagata Maru incident are often the subject of artists’ inquiry. While this is not an exhaustive list of the ways in which artists remember the Komagata Maru, we offer you a snapshot.

Art form: Photography
1989: To commemorate 75 years since the Komagata Maru incident, a photo exhibit was organized in British Columbia.

Art form: Play
2014: Why Not Theatre launched a project in January 2010 with the help of TARA Arts founder Jatinder Verma and a group of South Asian artists. Full production will take place in 2014. As per their website, the play will “examine Canada’s relationship to India over the last 100 years and look at questions around how history shapes our present and future and how do we apologize for the past? Who is accountable and what are we apologizing for?” The play is inspired by Ali Kazimi’s documentary Continuous Journey. For more information, go to http://www.theatrewhynot.org/2011/04/komagata-maru/

Art form: Play
1984: Ajmer Rode wrote the play Komagata Maru (in Punjabi), which was published by Third Eye Publications in 1986.

Art form: Play
Year uncertain: A play about the Komagata Maru was performed at Desh Pardesh. As noted on page 87 in “The Komagata Maru: Memory and Mobilization Among the South Asian Diaspora in North America” by Rajini Srikanth, in Re/Collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History, edited by Josephine D. Lee, Imogene L. Lim & Yuko Matsukawa, 2002.

Art form: Play (English)
Sharon Pollock’s “The Komagata Maru Incident” is likely the most widely referenced play. She has been described as “a dramatist who has given her central theme, the effect of social issues and public myths on individual lives, a progressively richer treatment.” “The Komagata Maru Incident” focuses on William Hopkinson, who in real life played a key role in the subjugation of Indians in both Canada and the United States. As a review of Pollock’s work found, “Hopkinson’s anguish takes us farther into ourselves: the racist denies a part of his own humanity in denying the humanity of others.”1
Script available in Pollock, Sharon. "The Komagata Maru Incident, a Play" in Six Canadian Plays (first edition) ed. Tony Hamill, Playwrights Canada Press, Toronto 1992, pp. 229-286 and Pollock, Sharon. 1978. The Komagata Maru Incident. Toronto: Theatre Ontario Printing Center.

Art form: Play (Punjabi)
1989: Samundary Sher Nal Larrai (A Battle with the Sea Lion) was written by Sadhu Binning and Sukhwant Hundal, for the purposes of the commemoration of 75 years since the Komagata Maru incident. As noted on page 26 in “Vancouver Sath” by Sadhu Bining, in Rungh: A South Asian Quarterly of Culture, Comment and CriticsmCriticism, Volume 2, Number 1 &2, 1993. Retrieved from http://www.rungh.org/issues/Rungh_v2_n1-2.pdf

Art form: Play (Punjabi)
1985: Harcharan Singh’s Komagata Maru: Kaumi Dukhanta was published by Raghabira Racana Prakashana in Chandigarh.

Art form: Mural
2007: Jarnail Singh’s 16x18 foot mural is on the front wall of a Senior Citizen Housing Unit in Surrey, British Columbia. This mural was commissioned by Charan Gill and Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) to commemorate 93 years since the Komagata Maru incident. The mural is painted from photo taken at the time of the incident. On April 25, 2007, Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains made a statement in the British Columbia Legislature about these murals, saying: “I want to congratulate the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society in Surrey for their contribution to our community, especially their efforts to remind us of the importance of the struggles and values of the passengers of the Komagata Maru. Charan Gill and PICS commissioned Jarnail Singh, a prominent artist, to paint a life-sized mural on the side of the PICS complex in Surrey. This mural was painted from a photo taken of the passengers on the Komagata Maru some 93 years ago.

I'm especially proud of this mural for the message it instils in all of us. In my view, it lets us cherish the courage of the passengers of the Komagata Maru and honours their progressive thinking, their bravery and their valour to challenge the laws of the day in the name of justice. These people put their lives on the line for their beliefs and to stand up for what was right.

This mural should serve as a reminder to all of us and to the coming generations that injustices should not be tolerated at any time. Whether they are societal or legislative injustices, we need people to understand that it is their right to oppose things that are not just.

I stand before you today with great pride that they left us with a country to live where there's established acceptance for all faiths, customs and beliefs, where we enjoy free speech and democracy. Please join me in honouring all of those people and organizations who stood up against injustices and thank them for their courage, bravery and compassion towards our humanity. It was their work and vision that laid the foundation to build a society that strives for social and economic justice for all and where we find unity in diversity.”2

Art form: Art Exhibit
In 2011, the art exhibit “Komagata Maru Stories” by Jarnail Singh and Ajmer Rode travelled to a few locations in British Columbia, using art work and text to discuss the Komagata Maru incicent. Hosted by the Newton Cultural Centre.

1 - NUNN, R.. Sharon Pollock's Plays: A Review Article. Theatre Research in Canada / Recherches théâtrales au Canada, North America, 5, jan. 1984. Available at: http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/TRIC/article/view/7449/8508
2 - Standing Order 25b: Statement on Komagata Maru Mural. British Columbia Legislature. Debates, 38th Parliament, 3rd session, vo. 18, no 10, April 25, 2007. (Online). Available: http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/38th3rd/h70425p.htm