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    • Old story, but interesting and I had not heard of it before https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/how-to-marry-a-maharaja-399010.html How to marry a maharaja It was a story that intrigued and scandalised Spain a century ago: the exotic dancer who caught the eye of a visiting prince and went to live in India as his wife. But plans to tell her story on the big screen have outraged the mahajara's descendants, who fear his reputation will be tarnished Elizabeth Nash Monday 05 November 2007 01:00  comments   Just over a century ago, Anita Delgado, a beautiful but barely literate Spanish teenager, danced a brief flamenco in a Madrid nightclub, caught the eye of a visiting Indian prince, the Maharaja of Kapurthala, and married him. The modest café-owner's daughter left her homeland to live for 18 years in opulent luxury in the Himalayan foothills with Sir Jagatjit Singh. She was his fifth and favourite wife and he showered with attention and jewels personally designed for her by Cartier. The rags-to-riches story intrigued and scandalised Spanish society for decades, to the point that it became said of any young woman seeking social advancement that she "wanted to marry a maharaja". The royal couple had a son, but eventually separated amid allegations of her infidelity. Delgado returned to Europe with a generous pension, and died in Madrid in 1962, after which her fairy-tale life story was gradually forgotten.   But the spectacular biography of the woman who became known as the "Spanish Maharani" has bounced back centre stage after the recent publication of a sizzling fictional biography by Javier Moro which has become a best-seller in Spain and India, and has been translated into several languages. Screen rights to the book were snapped up by the Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, who, inspired by the exotic East-West romance, planned a big budget biopic to be filmed in India in co-operation with Bollywood superstars, which she would produce and direct through her recently established production company. She cast herself in the starring role as the sultry dancer turned princess. But the project ran into trouble, blocked by descendants of the maharaja who, although long stripped of their privileges under the Raj, still enjoy social prestige in India. The maharaja's great-grandson, Tika Shatrujit Singh, heir to the Kapurthala royal family, has challenged the actress's ambitions and threatens legal action to defend the name of his ancestor, who died in 1949, which he claims is sullied by a sensationalist fictional account of his marriage with the low-born Spanish girl. Public interest was further stirred when Christie's announced this month that it would auction the late maharani's jewels in London, an event which the auction house itself hailed as evoking a fairy-tale love story "that could have been written by the finest romantic novelist, but was in fact true". The highlight among the eight pieces of jewellery, worth an estimated £200,000, is an art deco emerald, diamond and rock crystal necklace, a gift from the maharaja to his bride on her 19th birthday. The necklace had been an adornment for his favourite elephant. Christie's international director of Asian art, Amin Jaffer, said: "These jewels are a symbol of cross-cultural love and taste, bringing together Indian princely patronage with the finest European craftsmanship and design."   The improbable romance that spanned class and culture began in Madrid in 1906 during preparations for the wedding between Spain's King Alfonso XIII and Princess Victoria Eugenia of Battenburg. Anita Delgado's family had moved from Malaga some weeks before, so her father could look for work, and Anita, 16, and her sister Victoria started a dance act in a Madrid nightclub, calling themselves Las Camelias. Among the English contingent of guests to the sumptuous royal wedding was the Maharaja of Kapurthala, then aged 34, who formed part of the retinue of the Prince of Wales. He arrived in a glittering coach, wearing a turquoise blue turban adorned with pearls and precious stones, his chest studded with decorations, and a diamond-encrusted dagger in his belt. He asked to visit evening entertainment, was taken to see the Delgado sisters, and was smitten by Anita's black hair and huge sleepy eyes. Sir Jagajdit showered the girl with gifts and flowers, which were rebuffed by her fiercely protective family. He took her to dine in Madrid's smartest restaurant, where the unworldly teenager drank the hot water in the fingerbowl. After the royal wedding ceremony, he invited the Delgado family to his hotel suite, but celebrations turned to fear and panic when an anarchist threw a bomb at the royal cortège, killing 23 people and wounding scores. Guests swiftly fled Madrid, but Sir Jagadjit continued his courtship from Paris. He offered Anita a huge sum of money – enough to set up her family for years – and she agreed to marry him. "I went to Paris," she said later. "I was met by his secretary, a dozen slaves and half a dozen automobiles. They took me to a luxurious palace. A letter awaited me: the prince would not appear until I had learnt French, because he didn't want to express his feelings through another person."   It was an astonishing life change for a young Spanish woman of humble origins for whom education, travel and social advancement were virtually unattainable.She was taught to ride, play the piano and dance; she learnt French and English and how to behave at formal banquets. The wedding was set for January 1908. The prince went ahead to supervise arrangements, and Anita embarked in Marseilles for Bombay. In Kapurthala, she married according to Sikh rites and took the name Prem Kaur. She made something of a splash in Indian high society, but was devastated to learn on her arrival that she was the maharaja's fifth wife. She describes how four maids, each with a different function, formed her "walking bathroom". Her liberal-minded, Westernised husband allowed her considerable freedom of action, allowing her to live in her own quarters, outside the harem, but the British imperial authorities never recognised her as queen. They had a son, Ajit Singh, and travelled together for years through India and Europe, until in 1924, on a visit to London where they stayed at the Savoy, she is said to have had an affair with her stepson, who was about her age. She was separated from the prince, and divorced a year later. Delgado retained her Indo-Punjabi nationality, a life pension, her title as maharani, and all the gifts and jewels she had received during 18 years of marriage. In exchange, she was obliged to leave India and never remarry. She returned to Europe, and lived in Malaga, Biarritz, Deauville and Paris, enjoying the company of her secretary, Gines Rodriguez de Segura, in a relationship she kept secret, fearing the pension that supported them both in luxury would be stopped, until her death in Madrid in 1962. Many of her possessions, including millions of pounds worth of jewels, were sent from India in a separate ship that sank in the Mediterranean. The maharaja's heirs are still trying to recover the treasure. Her son, Ajit, died in 1982 after which Delgado was largely forgotten until the Spanish writer Javier Moro recently published a novel based on her life, Pasion India, translated into English and published in India as Indian Passion. The tale, illustrated with family photos, was widely covered in the Spanish press, where Penelope Cruz's mother spotted it and pointed it out to her daughter as a tailor-made role. The actress, whose father was a suburban car salesman, who became an Oscar-nominated Hollywood goddess, "fell in love with the story" and bought the film rights to Moro's book. Cruz set up her own production company last year and told journalists at the Cannes Film Festival of her ambitions to turn Passion India into her first big biopic as producer and director, to be shot in India, France and Spain. She would play the starring role as dancer-turned-princess, and the Bollywood heart-throb Shahrukh Khan was widely tipped in the Indian press as candidate to play the maharaja. Cruz announced plans to visit India to scout locations in Punjab and cast Indian actors. But everything went on hold when the actress-producer-director found herself on a collision course with the maharaja's family. The book was "a scandalous portrayal that has been spiced up", the maharaja's great-grandson, Shatrujit Singh, said. "This is not a historical account but a creation of the imagination of a mentally sick author, who humiliated the memory of my great-grandfather." The heir to Kapurthala refuses to co-operate with Cruz and threatens legal action to defend his family's name. "I've got nothing against Penelope Cruz, who has obviously been misinformed by Moro," Shatrujit Singh said. "We'd be delighted if she starred in a film about the real life of Princess Anita, but not this rubbish." Moro's book slurred not only the former rulers of Kapurthala, but other former maharajas too, Mr Singh said. "Moro is perfectly entitled to write a book of fiction, but not to use real people, with real names, illustrated with real photos, then say it's only fiction. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable in India." Then Delgado's great-nephew, Manuel Lucas Sanchis, grandson of Anita's niece, Victoria Winans Delgado, wrote an open letter to Cruz saying: "The book contains a great number of errors, frivolities and mediocrities intended only to provide a more saleable image to the protagonist and the world she lived in. Don't base your script on this book, which has nothing to do with reality." But there may be a way out. Another Spanish author, Elisa Vazquez de Gey, published an earlier, less sensational, biography of Anita Delgado. This was authorised by Victoria Winans Delgado, Mr Sanchis's grandmother, who gave the author family photographs and documents, including Delgado's diary, published in 1915. Mr Sanchis concludes his letter by recommending Gey's work as a more reliable source for a filmscript. And the heir to Kapurthala, an adviser for luxury brands in India, may yet relent. "My great grandfather loved Spain and visited the country 20 or 30 times," he said. "In reality, this is an opportunity to tell the love story between the unique cultures of India and Spain, based not on tittle-tattle, but on good manners and sophistication. "I am prepared to meet [Penelope Cruz] and explain the family's feelings and offer her historical guidance. If she co-operates, I may even open the doors to my palace."
    • https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/outlook-spotlight-harjinder-singh-kukreja-the-sikh-globe-trotter-and-goodwill-ambassador/397666 Harjinder Singh Kukreja, The Sikh Globe-Trotter And Goodwill Ambassador Little do people know, but he is also the first Sikh to skydive wearing his Turban in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia and the first Sikh to scuba-dive with his Turban in 2016 in Antalya, Turkey.     Published: 14 Oct 2021, Updated: 14 Oct 2021 8:18 pm With millions of followers on social media, Harjinder Singh Kukreja is one of the most followed Sikhs online. He is a renowned restaurateur, a global citizen with strong traditional roots, a variety of interests, with an amazing social media reach of over 4 million combined followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Little do people know, but he is also the first Sikh to skydive wearing his Turban in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia and the first Sikh to scuba-dive with his Turban in 2016 in Antalya, Turkey. When Harjinder Singh Kukreja steps foot in a new country or a new place or delves into a new subject, he carries with him his indomitable spirit of adventure, his knowledge of the heritage and legacy of India. His vast experience and reach of active and significant influence in the world through social media, his sophisticated forays into meeting diplomats around the globe, and his unique detours as a keen family traveller are well known and acknowledged worldwide. All this with the responsibility and professionalism of a well-established business person, the love of a family person, the intervention of a public speaker and influencer, the gregariousness of a Punjabi with the courage and philanthropy of a Sikh.   Harjinder was awarded the ‘Jewels of Punjab’ Award in 2019 by India’s former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for his contribution to Sikh and Punjabi culture and its promotion in his typical ways. From installing Sikh emblems, the Ik Onkar and Khanda at the World War I memorial in Ypres, Belgium in the memory of fallen Sikh soldiers to his contribution and presence at the unveiling of the bust of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in St.-Tropez, France, Harjinder has been highlighting the Sikh military history and making extensive efforts to promote it. From gifting a unique painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh with his French General Jean François Allard to the French Ambassador in India, Alexander Ziegler, to hoisting the Nishan Sahib in Gallipoli in Turkey to pay homage to the unknown Sikh soldiers who were martyred there, Harjinder loves to promote the lesser known aspects of Sikh history zealously. Harjinder Singh Kukreja is also a top-notch travel influencer and an ambassador for outbound tourism from India. The Turkish Tourism Board admires Harjinder‘s clout on social media, and he has been invited several times to Turkey to promote their tourism. He and his family have been hosted several times by Inflow Summits in several regions of Turkey in association with Turkish Airlines. From the UK Tourist Authority to Iran’s unofficial Tourism Board -Feel Iran and several top-level Hotel brands like Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Kempinski and Four Seasons have collaborated with Harjinder Singh Kukreja and sought exposure on his social media pages.   Harjinder Singh Kukreja is also known for his entrepreneurial acumen. He spearheaded his family’s venture into giving Ludhiana’s chocolate aficionados the city’s first Belgian Chocolate Cafe, Belfrance Bakers and Chocolatiers, in 2015. The Ambassador of Belgium in India, H.E. Mr Jan Luykx, inaugurated Belfrance in upmarket Ludhiana. Harjinder Singh Kukreja travelled extensively to Belgium and other European nations to seek inspiration and even trained to craft real Belgian chocolate in Brussels to make Belfrance what it is today. Belfrance is famous worldwide for its annual chocolate Ganesha, which has received great reception by Indian and international media for many years.   A staunch believer in the significance and importance of the family unit for societal progress, Harjinder Singh Kukreja is well-known for being a family man. His social media pages are full of endearing images and videos of his loveable children -Rehras Singh, Aad Sach Singh and Rut Suhavi Kaur.  His wife -Harkirat Kaur Kukreja, whom he proudly introduces as the ‘Sikh Supermom’, is the powerhouse of his life.   The teachings of Guru Nanak make Harjinder always a step ahead to put his best foot forward by contributing during unfortunate natural calamities. He has helped many flood-affected people in Jammu & Kashmir and even the victims of the Chennai floods. “I believe in such times we all, as humanity, must give our services in the form of money, clothes, items of daily needs and food”, says Harjinder Singh Kukreja. In his efforts to bring equality and humanity together, Harjinder organised a unique Sikh Langar inside Ludhiana’s historical Mosque -Jama Masjid, where he welcomed people of all religions. This initiative was acclaimed widely and received accolades from across the boundaries of countries and communities. From educating unprivileged children to contributing to their marriages, Harjinder Singh Kukreja and his family are always ready to pitch in.  Harjinder Singh Kukreja has a soft-corner for the Syrian refugees because his grandfather, Randhir Singh Kukreja migrated to India, post the partition as a refugee from Sialkot, which is now in Pakistan. In 2017, Harjinder Singh Kukreja wore the jersey of Ravi Singh’s Khalsa Aid International and flew from Istanbul to Gaziantep in Turkey, merely 80 km from the war-torn Syrian capital, to spend an entire day with Syrian refugees.   Government schools and offices in France do not allow religious symbols like Turbans and Hijabs. Harjinder Singh Kukreja decided to voice his concern positively. In 2014, he skydived with the Turban from 14,000ft in St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia, and he is also the first Sikh to scuba-dive in the Turban in 2016 in Antalya, Turkey. “My Turbaned skydive was an effort made to raise voice in favour of not just the Sikh religion but for everyone who wears articles of faith like the cross, hijab, kippah, skull cap and the Turban”, says Harjinder Singh Kukreja.
    • 2023: The Earth’s orbit will change (nobody really knows what this means).  - similar been mooted by some kathavachaks 2025: The population of Europe will reach almost zero. - interesting but unlikely I think  2028: Mankind will fly to Venus, in hope of finding new sources of energy.  😂 2043: Europe’s transformation into an Islamic caliphate is complete. Rome is named the capital. The world’s economy thrives under Muslim rule.  - Doubt it unless the middle East invades Europe
    • https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2021/10/21/mp-demands-answers-over-unjust-treatment-of-west-midlands-three/ MP demands answers over 'unjust' treatment of West Midlands Three By Peter MadeleyWolverhamptonPoliticsPublished: 4 hours ago   Preet Kaur Gill has demanded answers over the "targetting" of the men, known as the West Midlands Three, who were accused of being involved in a murder plot in India in 2009. The Home Office certified an extradition request in December 2020, but an appeal to hand them over to Indian authorities was dismissed in September after a District Judge found that no case could be established. Edgbaston MP Ms Gill, who is chair of the all party parliamentary group for British Sikhs, has demanded answers over the handling of the case. She also called for the Home Office to push for the release of another British national, Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been held in an Indian jail without charge for more than four years. Ms Gill said: "The case of the West Midlands Three is appalling. Having met with them, I've seen first-hand the unjust treatment which they have been subjected to. "The targeting of innocent, British Sikhs has no place in our society "Jagtar Singh Johal has now been detained in India, facing the death penalty, for more than four years with only an alleged confession obtained under torture as evidence. "In accordance with foreign office policy where an individual is arbitrarily detained, the UK Government must act and call for Jaggi's release. It is vital that the foreign secretary now makes this urgent request."
    • https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/amritsar/sikh-activists-give-rs-1-lakh-to-singhu-victims-wife-daughters-want-to-help-as-lakhbir-victimised-them-7582565/ Sikh activists give Rs 1 lakh to Singhu victim’s wife, daughters: ‘Want to help as Lakhbir victimised them’ To offer the same, Gangveer Singh Rathore and Sunny Singh Khalsa, both independent social workers, visited village of Lakhbir’s in-laws in Amritsar. The wife and three daughters of Lakhbir Singh, who was lynched at Singhu border, have received financial help of Rs 1 lakh from two Sikh activists. To offer the same, Gangveer Singh Rathore and Sunny Singh Khalsa, both independent social workers, visited village of Lakhbir’s in-laws in Amritsar. They said that they had collected this money through voluntary donations and were offering it on behalf of the community. In written statement later, they said, “We don’t want to create any wrong perception that family of sacrilege suspect would get financial aide. We want to help these girls because they were also victimised by Lakhbir who never fed them. However, some people are using these girls to create sympathy for Lakhbir and play dirty politics. I would like to ask these people not to use these girls to play their politics, but help them instead…They should be helped because they were troubled by Lakhbir. Rest, our views of the incident at Singhu border are same as that of Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh.” On Sunday, Bheem Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad had met Lakhbir’s sister, Raj Kaur, at village Cheema Khurd in Tarn Taran and provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000 while promising more help. While providing financial help, Gangveer said, “We learnt through newspapers that Lakhbir’s three daughters and wife were not looked after by him. In last five years, Lakhbir never cared to know how they were living….His brother-in-law Sukhchain Singh endorsed these news stories. Allegations of his involvement in the sacrilege act have created more trouble for the family. Their lives were already full of misery…There is no scope of keeping any malice toward the family for the alleged actions of Lakhbir.” In a video with Sikh activists, Lakhbir’s brother-in-law, Sukhchain Singh, said, “If Lakhbir is guilty, we stand with the community.”
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