– A word which unites Panjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and Persian meaning soul

The soul sees no religion. The soul sees no border. The soul is free.

“In Rooh, her debut poetry collection, she takes us on a poetic journey that transcends borders and arbitrary boundaries. Her work straddles English and Punjabi culture – fusing words from Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu and English. They look at love, religion, identity, politics, history, taboos, society – often questioning orthodox views, particularly around the roles that different genders are expected to adopt. Rooh has a grand scope and stares unblinkingly at the world. It is a stunning first collection from this young, intelligent poet.” – Verve Poetry Press

“Rupinder’s poetry is at once electrifying, heartbreaking and uplifting. She writes truthfully and with care, as if feeding you these lovingly crafted words with her own hands. A must read” – Amani Saeed.

Available to purchase now :

Verve poetry press website –

Amazon –

Foyles –,rupinder-kaur-9781912565085

Waterstones –

Book Depository –


Putting my salwar on
I play Surinder Kaur’s
ek meri akh kashni
written my favourite poet
Shiv Kumar Batalvi
that carries too much language
that can’t be translated.

As I put my kameez on
it lines my body’s curves
coming down with Lahore and Amritsar
a bit like my mother’s salwar kameez from an old photo
where she stands in-between
as she is the middle child
that has the worry of all.
The photo brings old Delhi
where poetry lingers
and Sanskrit-Latin
origin washes away -no foeticide or qurbanis.

I remember my Nani Ji holding me,
calling me a ray of light – Kiran.
I see my Daadi Ji looking at me
through the mirror smiling –
she lost her husband so young
yet she remained so strong
and raised two sons by herself
working hard day and night.

And as I place my dupatta by my side
I feel my ancestors next to me
traveling through
two worlds of life and death
coming at the platform of reality.

And I stand between two parallel lines
bringing a fusion of language
from every mohalla, area
that they set foot on
from Lahore-Delhi-Amritsar
and finally Birmingham.

Yes, sometimes I write for myself
but mostly I write for my mother.
I write for my ancestors that spill ink in every poem.

Part of Pass the Mic for festival of audacity part of beatfreaks, September 2018.
This was held celebrating 100 years of women getting the vote. The tram relay went from Wolverhampton to Birmingham.

Jugni is a poem that is featured in Rupinder Kaur’s debut poetry book Rooh

o mereya jugni, jugni
o mereya jugni, jugni

jugni travels from Delhi to Amritsar
across to England
jungi; the essence of life,
the spirit of life comes inside my rooh

jugni comes and dances in my dreams
jugni makes me fly

jugni takes me across borders
taking me to Lahore

jugni removes the radcliffe line
and I see my five rivers flowing together

jugni sees me read and write poetry
jugni tells me to light the candle

jugni watches me apply kohl
jugni watches me paint my lips

jugni looks at me and smiles
jugni tells me to fall in love with myself

jugni is no kafir or fakir
jugni is azaad, jugni is azaad

and jugni makes me free
jugni sets my rooh free

the jugni becomes me…
and the jugni becomes me…

o mereya jugni, jugni…
o mereya jugni, jugni

These two poems are from Rupinder’s debut poetry book Rooh with Verve Poetry Press

Sada chidiyan da chamba – Our temporary nest of birds

Sada chidiyan da chamba- Our temporary nest of birds, is a project that aims explore the female narrative of Panjabi wedding folk songs in Panjab and the diaspora over the past years with a focus on Birmingham and The Black Country. Research will be done through oral history, wedding archives from photographs and items.

Sada chidiyan da chamba ve babla
Asan ud jana, asan ud jana

This was our temporary nest of birds,
O father Tomorrow I will fly, I will fly…

What unites Panjabis across the world is the language itself along with its traditional folk songs. Panjabi Wedding folk songs are an element of the different types of the various different Panjabi folk songs.

Balbir Kaur on her Wedding day, July 1995

Wedding folk songs from Suhag, Sitniyan, Tappe, Mahiye and Ghoriyan are the artistic expressions of Panjabi women. Suhag in particular is the direct female perspective of brides. They have been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation as outlets containing the feelings, sentiments, emotions and desires of Panjabi women.

Throughout the project there will also be creative writing workshops held with women of all ages, to explore and write responses and even to rewrite the folk songs. The workshops will be held in November in Birmingham and Wolverhampton along with a Giddha workshop.

If you have any favourite wedding folk songs, or have wedding stories, photographs and items that you would like to share and contribute towards this project please get in contact with myself –

With all research collated there is an aim of an exhibition in Spring/Summer 2020.

This project is being kindly supported by Creative Black Country Open Access Seed Award and is being co-produced by Professor Rajinder Dudrah’s research at Slanguages, Creative Multingualism (Oxford University) and Birmingham City University.


Rupinder had led workshops across Birmingham and nationally working with various organisations and schools. She has experience with students aged from 15- 50.

She generally carries out these workshops- Introduction to Panjabi poetry, Introduction to South Asian poetry, Introduction to South Asian Writers (these can also be made specific e.g. just focusing on one writer or a theme) Azaad Lafz (Free verse poetry writing) and Finding your voice through spoken word.

” I was able to reconnect with the arts, I never knew that there are so many South Asian poets”

“I realised that poetry is such an empowering outlet”

testimonies after workshops

If you are interested in speaking to Rupinder about workshops please email – for more information.

ਯਾਦਾਂ – yaadan – memories

•••• ਯਾਦਾਂ – yaadan – memories ••••


The life of a woman… or is it the life of a girl that becomes a woman. When does a girl become a woman? After she hits 16… 18. After marriage? After giving birth to children? Then what happens? Society gives her names of a daughter then a wife then a mother… Does she not have her own “identity”… will society forever only call her names..? And never call her “her” by “her” own identity. When a woman reflects back on her life remembering her yaadan as a young girl, a daughter, then wife and then mother… what does she think…

Was a moment in her yaadan that she lived for herself…? Since a child, she is told you must behave a certain way… you abide to these rules and customs… you must know how to **cook and clean*** or else what will your in-laws say. She wants to study but is told the worth of an educated woman is nothing. If she wants to do something for herself she is told you do this only once you are married. And once she is married she told, well you should done whatever you wanted before you were married… Then she has children and her life becomes her children she never thinks anything else could be her life aside from her children. Her happiness comes from her husband and children.
She spends her time with children and doesn’t realise when they grow and become young adults. And now she sits remembering her days looking through her yaadan. Taking a deep breath… holding the photograph of when she was a girl reflecting she thinks… now I must live and live for myself and fulfill my own dreams.



Yaadan satrangi ne puttar, yaadan ehsaas ne, jazbaat ne…they are various different thoughts. Yaadan kadi vich kar nai hondi’aa they are always either good or bad. Yaadan kadi dukh deni’aa ne te kadi sukh…. depend karda yaad kis naal joori aa …koyi shehr di yaad… kisi insaan di yaad… kado, te kis tarah us di yaad aa jaye koi pata ni… ik geet… ik tasvaar tanu us pal di yaad karva denda hai te oh pal twade akhan moreh aa janda… 

– Balbir Kaur, my mother. 

mum looking











Rooh- Soul. I describe Rooh as a journey for me it is not a book but it is like a river that flows and flows.  It is azaad – free, free from barriers and borders it is simply just the Rooh- soul. I started putting together my poems for a potential collection together just a year ago, around this time.  The poems range from many different things from being in the diaspora to Panjab across to India and beyond man-made borders with history, politics, taboos and love with an emphasis on the roles of genders.

In most of my poems I always use words from – Panjabi-Hindi-Urdu, this is something that just comes natural being a lover of poetry that comes from India more so before it’s partition, the poetry in Panjabi/ Hindi/Urdu is just so beautiful and full of so much language. I hope one day I can write fully and properly in each language as I love them all.
The canals by Brindley place

become a prayer for Jhelum.

The library becomes a home for reading Faiz and Iqbal

with Lahore coming so close

yet so far away.

I write half ghazals thinking of Amritsar and Delhi,

languages spin intermingling Hindi Panjabi Urdu English.

Which is mine?/ when all four are mine…

(poem from Rooh)

book cover rooh

I came across the artwork of a Pakistani artist called Maryam Mughal and I just fell in love with her art, and style…and then I saw this painting and I just wanted it… I didn’t want anything else after as I felt it was perfect for Rooh. I felt it captures the essence of Rooh completely. And everything about it is just what I am… my mum actually thinks the painting looks like me lol. So after trying to get her contact details for so long, my publisher was able to get in contact with her and we got the rights for this beautiful beautiful painting for my cover. Please do check out her other work too, it’s absolutely beautiful you can search her on google. She isn’t on social media expect Facebook.

Now, coming to the title – I decided on the name Rooh for my poetry book — firstly because poetry is literally my Rooh (soul) and because it is a word which unites languages – Languages that are so rich in heritage and culture, words that are literally poetry.

Rooh (soul) is originated from Arabic but is used by many languages such as mentioned. Panjabi and Urdu are two languages in particular that I love, Panjabi being my mother tongue and Urdu the language that I literally fell in love with.

Rooh is available for pre orders and it will shipped world wide see links below. And thank you to those that have been giving a lot of love and appreciation I can’t describe how it all feels to see your dream coming true. At the age of just 22 I would have never imagined to be a published poet!

I can’t thank my publisher enough, for being so patient and understanding with my work. I am truly grateful to Stuart who is the co-founder of Verve Poetry Press along with Amerah Saleh.

Please do pre-order and come down to Waterstones if you can!!!

link for pre-orders;


ticket link for launch at Waterstones in Birmingham ;

India… rape-public?

Image result for mathur case rape 1980

[1980s- Protests In Delhi Against the Mathura rape case]

Flashback to March 26th 1972, India witnessed a custodial rape case. Custodial rape is perpetrated by a person employed by the state in a supervisory or custodial position, such as a police officer, public servant or jail or hospital employee. It also includes the rape of children in institutional care such as orphanages.

The Mathura case became the turning point in Indian Rape Law as it led to amendments in Rape Law via The criminal law act of 1983. In absolute brief, a young tribal girl named Mathura was raped by two policemen.

The case came for hearing in the sessions court on 1st June 1974. The judgement came forward that defendants are not guilty. It was stated that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse, her consent was voluntary.  And only the sexual intercourse can be proved and not rape. On appeal, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court set aside the judgement of sessions court and sentenced the accused policemen to one and five years of imprisonment.

In September 1979 Supreme Court of India justice reversed the judgement given by Bombay high court on the case. Supreme Court held that Mathura had raised no alarm, there was no visible injury on her body indicating no struggle, therefore, indicating no rape. The judge noted, “Because she was used to sex, she might have incited the cops [they were drunk on duty] to have intercourse with her”. Implying that it’s the girl’s fault and not the fault of the police officers.

But nothing really came into the light until the law professors Upendra Baxi, Raghunath Kelkar and Lotika Sarkar of Delhi University and Vasudha Dhagamwar of Pune wrote an open letter to Supreme Court protesting the concept of consent. “Consent involves submission, but the converse is not necessarily true…From the facts of the case, all that is established is submission and not consent…Is the taboo against pre-marital sex so strong as to provide a license to Indian police to rape young girls.”

This gave rise to widespread protests across India especially in Delhi demanding a review of judgement which received vast amounts of media coverage. But the court said that there is no Locus Standi to rule in the favour of Mathura, which eventually led to Government of India making amendments in Rape Law via The Criminal Law Act of 1983.

Now coming to 17th December 2012 we see the rape case that shocked the entire world – Nirbhaya.   An outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been nearly 6 years, one was let off as a juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed last year. On the 9th July, 2018 India’s Supreme Court on 9th July finally upholds death penalty for rapists in Nirbhaya case. When this actually happens I will believe it.

In the space of six years since Nirbhaya many more rape cases have been coming forward, a new rape case has been in headlines pretty much every day.

17th July 2018,  yesterday I came across three different rape incidents. “11-year-old girl was raped by 17 men while drugged and held captive for six months”/ “14-month old girl was raped by her great uncle”/”girl with disability gang-raped by 22 men for 7 Months”/    now just imagine these cases are reported…

WHY DO MEN RAPE? WHY IS INDIA A RAPE-PUBIC and not republic…. Why is there such delays with justice…

I have so many questions with little answers…

Savitri Goonesekere mentions that “Men mostly employ violence and rape to preserve their position of power in certain communities” Rape is seen as a method to exercise control over women to prove their masculinity. Often it is also used as a weapon of revenge against various disadvantaged or low caste women.

Writers such as Manto, Bedi, Amrita Pritam have looked at the effects of how rape was used in the partition. Manto’s Sharifan looks at rape as revenge was as political then as it is now.  Earlier this year we had the brutal incident of the 8-year-old Muslim Kashmiri girl Asifa. She was raped within a Hindu temple and currently, eight men are on trial for the rape and murder.

India was voted the most unsafe country for women to live. India has a culture of silence that is integrated by misogyny. It is deep-rooted often starting at home where,  girls treated differently to boys… boys are given more freedom and are open to doing whatever, whereas girls are told to be modest and behave a certain a way. These thoughts are also carried into the diaspora and believe it or not even first/ second/third generations carry these views.

In regards to rape, it is a serious social problem reflecting the reality of how women are treated. It needs to be dealt with at all levels from an individual, social, legal, economic and political aspect. Many think it is new that India is seeing so many rape cases but rape has always been at high rates The Mathura case being a prime example in the 1980s.

I can write many thousands of words but will it reach out to rapists and the government? Will my voice continually get rejected for wanting justice? There are many complex layers as to why rape takes place which needs to be analysed individually. As I mentioned in my previous blog post on five years since Nirbhaya the society needs to change… the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women. 

We need to become the revolution and change the present for the future.



Violence, Law and Women’s Rights in South Asia by Savitri Goonesekere

Men who rape (the psychology of the offender) by A. Nicholas Groth and H. Jean Birnbaum

Poetry and some thoughts

I was born outside the country my mother was born. Will this forever mean, that despite being born in England, this country is not truly mine? Diaspora, “the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland”.
I found myself mixing my clothes and music as a teenager bringing a perfect fit for fusion. At times I wanted to go away from identity but, the more I ran away the more it chased me. And now my identity as a British Sikh Panjabi defines my life.


I last studied English literature at the age of 16 for my GCSE’s. I was never good at spelling and grammar but, I still managed to scrap a grade B. I never imagined that one-day poetry will shape my existence. For me at first, poetry was just my emotions.
I thought it was just a way to express myself, a way to just talk about my emotions and feelings. The older I got the more I realised, there is so much more to poetry – that poetry isn’t just emotion it is a way of living. Poetry is a way to tell your history.

I enjoyed reading poetry especially Sufi poetry written by Rumi and Hafiz I read these two poets so much during the age of 17.
One day I was listening to a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qwwaali.
It was a Panjabi qwaali maye ni maye mere geetan de naina vich birhan di radak pawe…”
I instantly searched for the writer, of this qwwaali and I came across the poetry of Shiv Kumar Batlavi. And I realised how beautiful Panjabi poetry truly is. The Panjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, along with Amrita Pritam changed my life. I lost and found myself while reading their beautiful poetry.


(Shiv Kumar Batlavi)

But this wasn’t enough, I did not know how to read them in the actual Panjabi script – Gurmukhi, so I decided that I wanted to learn how to read and write Gurmukhi.
I spent the summer before starting university, learning how to read and write (and I am still in the process of improving). During this time I started reading a lot more Gurbani, the words of my Beloved Gurus and I realised how diluted translations are. Translations never give the real and raw feeling of what is written originally. Perhaps that is why they are called translations. As they can never hold the true essence of its original version.

Reading poetry in Panjabi gives my rooh – my soul a feeling which I cannot quite describe. I find words that touch me like they were made for me and me only. Which is why I decided to write in Panjabi.
Some say to me but you’re born in England, so isn’t English your mother tongue but for me, my mother tongue is my mother’s tongue.

I fear that my generation, living away from Panjab and the generations to come will forget the beauty of our language.
I fear they will forget this is the language that Waris Shah choose over Urdu. I fear they will forget this the language of our Gurus.
I fear that they will forget the need to know Panjabi.
Which is why even though I write in English at times I write about my mother tongue, Panjabi.

I’m grateful for my mother, for telling me stories while putting me to sleep. The love tales of Sohni – Mahiwal to Heer – Ranjha to the Usdasis of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Which now make way to my poetry.


(painting of Heer and Ranjha)

I love reading. And the more I read about my history, the more I realise I know nothing. The effects of 1947 and 1984 are still very much fresh, with questions unsolved.
I asked my Nanaji, about partition about two years ago and the way he described partition, the loss of his mother once again (he lost his biological mother at the age of 2) while crying, made me want to dive deeper into the brutal history of partition and colonisation.

the panjab

(map of Panjab pre-partition)

I started writing a lot about Panjab in both English and Panjabi. As through my poetry, I wanted to send reminders of the beautiful past Panjab had united, how it was the land that started poetry, how it was so rich in history. Before it was divided but the horrors of the partition cannot be ignored. Partition caused a division of hearts and over thousands died. Women were affected brutality. Panjab is still crying and Kashmir is still bleeding.

I visited Panjab in the summer of 2017 and I realised many of the youth, even in Panjab are going away from their roots. The high statistics of drug and female foeticide in Panjab also cannot be ignored yet it is.

And now I can’t stop writing about the effects of colonisation because it still affects us today. The way how society thinks.
How brown skin is not liked. How once India was once the land of sexual Gods, the land where the Kamasutra was written, the land that was called sohne ki chidiya today is one of the countries with the highest rape statics with many parts full of poverty.

After the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012, it made me truly question – is this world, ever going to be a world for women.
From reading the Ramayana and the Mahabharata it made this question arise so much.  And one day I looked at my mother, my grandmother and their eyes held so many stories, stories unknown. But these unknown stories are the stories of so many women. I use my poetry as a way of telling stories a way of voicing what is not heard or is often ignored. From what so many women experience. What I saw in society from the ends of Handsworth to Panjab makes way to the ink of my pen.

Of course, my own experiences shape my poetry. Someone once told me until your heart doesn’t break you can’t become a poet.
Yes, I’ve had my heart broken many times and perhaps that is why I feel everything so deeply. But this doesn’t necessarily mean getting your heart broken by a lover. Your heart can be broken in ways aside from love, such as society, injustices, family and friends. For me, like most poets, everything I experience and what I see around me shapes my writing.

This poem below, ” Who am I” explores the theme of my identity.

Who am I?

I am the winds of Lahore
that my Nanaji brought
across the border of Wagah

I am the soil of Amritsar
where my father was born
I am mixed with the air coming from Delhi
where my mother was born

Who am I?
is a question I am yet to solve
I am divided into names and culture
I sit oceans away from Panjab
yet I write about Panjab

I am somewhat British
yet more Panjabi
I write in English
wishing I wrote more in Panjabi…

– Rupinder Kaur

“Khuda kise de hath vich kalam den toh phela ohnu sach likhan di taufik devi
said by Amrita Pritam which roughly translates to –
God before placing in someone’s hand a pen give them the ability to write the truth”


(Amrita Pritam)

I can’t thank God, Allah, Ram, Waheguru, Satnaam enough, without the blessings of God I am no one.

Rupinder Kaur.

Lost Somewhere – poem.

panjab book cover

Lost somewhere she is
somewhere before 1966
somewhere before 1947
lost somewhere, maybe between 1799-1849
during her rise

Lost somewhere before –
Bulleh Shah’s kalam
Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s kitaab
Amrita Pritam’s words
before Waris Shah’s Heer
lost somewhere maybe between –
the sweet raags and poetry of the 15th century

She’s lost somewhere –
maybe at the shore of Chenab
maybe at Takhat Hazara
maybe at Jhang
or maybe, between the valley of mountains

She’s lost somewhere –
in pages of history
in pages of literature
in pages of poetry…
and her voice is
lost, lost and lost

Maybe she’s somewhere, watching warriors
or somewhere, listening to saints
maybe she’s lost somewhere, in the horizon of mustard fields

Maybe she’s lost somewhere –
where her five rivers where once together
before her sixth river of blood emerged…

Maybe she’s lost between, the borders of Amritsar and Lahore
or lost maybe between, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur
lost between, Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi maybe

Can someone find her?
does anyone know where she is?
can someone please find my Panjab?
before she gets lost and lost, into pages of history
before this poison of drugs fills her every corner

Can someone please find my Panjab…?
her land that started the academics
with the world’s first book – The Rig Veda
today is losing its literature…
please find my Panjab

Bring back my beloved land of warriors, saints, lovers and poets

Colonists and governments may have divided her
but her soul remains one
undivided –
borders and distance mean nothing when the soul is one

I might be away from my Panjab
but –
Panjab is within my heart
and within my soul…

– Rupinder Kaur.


rooh punjabi logo final

Five years since Nirbhaya…

16th December 2012, 23 year old medical student Jyoti Singh was raped. Gang raped. On 26th December, the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, took the decision to fly Jyoti to a transplant specialist hospital in Singapore. She died on 28th December from the internal injuries.

Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh

“We are still waiting for justice”: Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents.

Today marks 5 years since Nirbhaya but has anything changed? are women safer?  There are more and more rape cases coming forward – but is this making any difference? – how many more cases will it take for it to come to end completely? – to destroy something it must be finished from its root.

On 17th December 2012 a outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been 5 years and this still has not happened, one was let of as juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed this year.

Image result for nirbhaya case

Since the reporting of Nirbhaya there has been an increase of reporting rape cases by 35%. Rape statistics have increased over the years, leading people to question why has there been increase. But I believe personally rape has always been at high rates it was just never reported by so many due to victims or victims parents thinking it will cause shame for them.

The root of rape cases – why do they happen; a few things come into my mind –

Bollywood influence – many, many bollywood films are male centred with a female just for eye candy, item songs showing one girl with so many men and she is loving it. Films show how men chase women till she gives and somehow falls in love with them.

Lack of education – not having access to education especially in rural areas means that some are not aware of what women are capble of doing – women across not just India but the vast globe have exceeded in various jobs and titles and not just being at home listening to whatever a male says – being the father or later the husband. Women are independent in certain places in India which many other rural areas are unaware off.

But what causes someone to rape a baby, a young girl ? perhaps they are mentally ill..?    I really don’t know. 6 days ago, 5-year-old Haryana girl was raped and she was found with 16-cm wooden stick inserted in her private parts.

I’m not sure how rape cases can come to end but I think it starts at home. Instead of telling girls how they can save themselves from being raped how about we start teaching boys not to rape. To create a change in society we need to start at home. Bring up both boys and girls with equality – not differentiate with them. We need to break the stigma that if a girl has male friends she is a not a good girl or doesn’t come from a good family. If a girl has a boyfriend it does not mean she is characterless.

In 2015 A documentary film directed by Lesleed Udwin which was part of the BBC’s ongoing Storyville series brought into light what goes through the mind of rapists and those that think it is a girls fault that she gets raped.

India Daughter

This film was banned in India but it aired outside of India on 4 March 2015 was uploaded on YouTube going viral. On 5 March, the Indian government directed YouTube to block the video in India. The documentary is now available to watch on Netflix with some bits on YouTube.

The documentary had some shocking statements made by the rapists –



Was this rapist – brought up this way, is this what he was taught by his parents. Is this what he saw in society and then thought it was norm which is why he raped Jyoti? I don’t know.

It has been 70 years since the Independence of India and 5 years since this brutal rape case. Are women free in India? Can a woman walk alone past 8pm.


An image from the protest which took place a day after the rape of Jyoti Singh.

I am not sure when the day will come, when across the entire world women are treated with equal respect and that having a girl is just as valuable as a boy.

When will #Nirbhaya get justice… I am not sure but for now, I believe only God can give her justice. The Government is corrupted, the system needs to break at its root. The society needs to change… and as mentioned in order to make this change, the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women.

Sources used –

India’s daughter –  film which is available on Netflix to watch.